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Wobblers

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    Wobblers

    Has anyone had a horse with Wobblers? I'd love to hear experiences.

    I've been told my two major and well respected clinics that I should probably euthanize my horse. That he isn't a great candidate for surgery because he has so many other issues on top of the neck stuff. And that they don't think he will ever be 100%.

    I talked to my own vet extensively and my chiropractor vet. I felt like I was making the right decision. Then I see my horse gallop across the field like nothing is wrong and that just makes it so hard. He looks so healthy.

    The biggest reason for euthanizing is that he's fallen. On the lunge and in the pasture. And sat back/ lost balance when having his feet messed with (especially with the farrier.) So the big concern his safety.

    Is it normal for Wobblers to be so intermittent in their symptoms? I know neck issues can be that way but it's crazy. Even at the hospital he looked fine until he fell. It surprised the vets too.

    Please be kind. I know I'm grasping at straws here. He is supposed to go to a hospital for a necropsy for their Wobblers study. I just hate seeing him yahoo around the field, makes it harder. On one hand, I'm glad he's enjoying himself right now.

    #2
    In my experience Wobbler syndrome can look very mild right up until it gets very, very bad. It's like a switch goes off.

    As a vet, the owner of a horse with some neuro issues, and someone who knew and loved a young, very promising horse with Wobbler, I would euthanize. He's fallen already. He's managed to not be really badly hurt yet. One of these times he's going to be hurt. One of these times he may hurt someone else. The friend's horse with Wobbler syndrome was galloping around his field the day before he died. He'd been cross country schooling the week before. The day he died he went from seemingly normal to unable to stay on his feet. My friend saw him fall in the field and ran to him. The horse saw him coming, managed to get to his feet, gallop in terror toward my friend for one hundred feet before knocking himself off his feet again. My friend made it to his side and had to stand on his neck to keep him down. The horse kept trying to get up, only to flip over. He'd already scraped himself up and my friend was afraid the next time he stood up he would break his neck or his leg and then he would suffer even more. My friend's a vet, so he had the ability to euthanize that horse within 10 minutes of things going from questionable to crisis. That horse died afraid of the things his body was doing to him. I would never, ever want to watch that happen to a horse I love.

    With my own neuro horse (Shivers), I watch him with constant paranoia. I want to euthanize him on a beautiful day when he can comfortably stand and eat buckets of carrots before he quietly lies down. He's been stable for years but I live in fear that I will miss some little hint that tomorrow will be a bad day and my absolute goal is to euthanize him while he still has a good day or two left, so he never has to know any unnecessary pain or fear.

    You feel bad because he looks healthy. He is not healthy. He doesn't know he's sick. By the time he knows he's sick, it will be bad. The kindest thing you can do is hurt your own feelings by putting him down, because in the process you'll spare him all the troubles that are even now gathering over him like a storm cloud.

    Comment

      Original Poster

      #3
      Horse Rider thanks so much for sharing what I know are awful circumstances. I know you are right and believe me I'm taking to heart what the vets are saying. I also fear him hurting someone or himself. I think him sometimes looking fine and normal makes it harder to wrap my head around. I have to remind myself of what we found on x-rays. I also think him being intermittently neurological is almost more dangerous. Because we (me and staff) are likely to let our guard down. And he's already shown us that it's unpredictable. He can be fine and then fall in the same hour.

      Thank you so much. He will be euthanized. It just sucks and is so difficult.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Horse Rider View Post
        In my experience Wobbler syndrome can look very mild right up until it gets very, very bad. It's like a switch goes off.

        As a vet, the owner of a horse with some neuro issues, and someone who knew and loved a young, very promising horse with Wobbler, I would euthanize. He's fallen already. He's managed to not be really badly hurt yet. One of these times he's going to be hurt. One of these times he may hurt someone else. The friend's horse with Wobbler syndrome was galloping around his field the day before he died. He'd been cross country schooling the week before. The day he died he went from seemingly normal to unable to stay on his feet. My friend saw him fall in the field and ran to him. The horse saw him coming, managed to get to his feet, gallop in terror toward my friend for one hundred feet before knocking himself off his feet again. My friend made it to his side and had to stand on his neck to keep him down. The horse kept trying to get up, only to flip over. He'd already scraped himself up and my friend was afraid the next time he stood up he would break his neck or his leg and then he would suffer even more. My friend's a vet, so he had the ability to euthanize that horse within 10 minutes of things going from questionable to crisis. That horse died afraid of the things his body was doing to him. I would never, ever want to watch that happen to a horse I love.

        With my own neuro horse (Shivers), I watch him with constant paranoia. I want to euthanize him on a beautiful day when he can comfortably stand and eat buckets of carrots before he quietly lies down. He's been stable for years but I live in fear that I will miss some little hint that tomorrow will be a bad day and my absolute goal is to euthanize him while he still has a good day or two left, so he never has to know any unnecessary pain or fear.

        You feel bad because he looks healthy. He is not healthy. He doesn't know he's sick. By the time he knows he's sick, it will be bad. The kindest thing you can do is hurt your own feelings by putting him down, because in the process you'll spare him all the troubles that are even now gathering over him like a storm cloud.
        OP, I’m sorry for your heartache. The above is a really moving post.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Lunabear1988 View Post

          Thank you so much. He will be euthanized. It just sucks and is so difficult.
          I am so sorry, Lunabear. It does suck and it is difficult but it is also one of the kindest things we can do for our pets. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for struggling with this and thank you for doing the right thing, even when it does hurt so bad.

          I always tell people that hard doesn't mean wrong, and that often, by the time it gets "easy" it's too late - they're down, they're suffering, etc. Such is the hard, hard nature of euthanasia.

          Comment


            #6
            OP I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I went through something quite similar recently enough that I’m still mourning. I bought a 5 month old colt from the top international KWPN lines, inspected and with multiple Olympic gold medal winners in his family. At age 2 he started showing symptoms of shivers, and tested positive for PSSM2. Nevertheless with absolutely determined and detailed management I was able to start him. Sadly he was often injured and it seemed his proprioceptive issues were the case. It got to the stage where he had two hind suspensories, was looking at a year of rehab (2nd suspensory happened after IRAP and shockwave for months) and I ran out of vets who would give any hope.

            A kinder, sweeter, more trainable and smart horse I’ve never met. And he was an outstandingly handsome black horse standing almost 17.2 - just stunning. I put him down last November at age 7 after an ultrasound specialist found cervical arthritis on top of it all (perhaps the true root cause?). He was having issues getting up and down, took out an entire stall wall one night thrashing. Hoof care was almost impossible even heavily sedated and he could not live safely in a stall or in pasture.

            He looked so healthy when I took him to the vet teaching hospital to be euthanized. A barnmate tried to stage an intervention - she couldn’t believe I’d put down what looked like a normal healthy horse who would buck and run in his pen. I have to try to forgive her pure ignorance but it made everything so much harder.

            OP listen: I do not regret putting him down. I tried everything. I only deeply and bitterly regret that such a hugely loved horse was dealt a cruel hand by fate. But he didn’t suffer much longer than it took for the multiple vets and specialists to agree his time had come, and at the time he passed he was happy and relaxed and loved.

            (((big hugs to you)))



            Comment

              Original Poster

              #7
              NaturallyHappy that last paragraph from Horse Rider really hit home. Made me cry (but was reassuring and I needed it.)

              Thank you.

              Comment

                Original Poster

                #8
                Horse Rider you are totally right and I am truly glad that his last days can be enjoyable. I don't want him to feel bad or be hurt. Better to do it on a good day.

                Comment

                  Original Poster

                  #9
                  Xanthoria thanks so much for sharing what I know is a very hard thing to experience with me. The interfering boarder story just makes me so upset for you! Even with well intentions, how traumatic that had to be. I can totally see that happening though.

                  We havep talked before- I had to put down another young horse 2 years ago due to Trigeminal Nerve pain and other issues. So I totally have been down this road and I know I'm not alone. It's a hard thing to go through but we have to come stronger because of it. Somehow.

                  My horse also has lots of other issues like pedal ostiestis, a club foot, side bone, lumbar arthritis and now, apparently, Wobblers. At 4 years old.

                  Even if he seems okay now, I think the writing on the wall of what the future holds is pretty clear.


                  I know this is the right thing to do but man it's hard on the heart. I really appreciate everyone's understanding and support.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    So sorry to read this. Yes, it will be very hard. Nothing useful to add except know that you will have lots of virtual hugs and moral support.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I have been exactly where you are, because he was the sweetest horse I have ever owned. And I have had some wonderful horses. And he adored me. And I adored him.

                      I was in a position where I had to euthanize his best friend, and I was in a challenging position. I wanted to make sure that I was the one who made the decisions for him, and this was going to be the best- and hardest- decision.

                      I miss him every day, and I am crying just to think of him again. As it worked out, I could have tried to keep him going, but you never know. I know that he was happy right up until the end, and that he was still getting around as well as possible. He never had to know a bad day, and he was never without his friend.

                      Grief is, indeed, the price we pay for love.

                      Hugs and best wishes.
                      When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them- Maya Angelou
                      www.americansaddlebredsporthorse.net
                      http://www.asbsporthorse.blogspot.com/

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Yes, I've dealt with it before too. And I now know that we only see a fraction of the pain/discomfort/fear these animals feel when they have these kinds of conditions. I truly believe they are programmed to hide a lot of it. So yes it really really sucks to make that phone call but it is absolutely the right thing to do. I'll probably be making that call before winter as well. I wish you nothing but strength and peace.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I've also had to put down a horse and I chose to do it before things got bad-bad, but in hindsight I still could have had it done earlier.
                          He had a fractured humerus and recovered enough to be retire mostly paddock sound with slight reduced movement in the shoulder, but a year later he had degenerative joint disease in every leg except for the one that had the fracture. His body had been silently compensating and after a year the other legs showed the stress they'd been under.

                          He didn't look all that unsound, no different to an older horse with a bit of mild arthritis... but that's apparently not unusual when they're unsound on all four legs, unlike a single limb lameness. You could see it in his face though and his temperament had changed so I made the decision that it was his time. There was another boarder who had no qualms in telling me I was a monster, that I was killing my horse, and in the end she put her hand up infront of my face, walked away and she never spoke to me again!

                          Afterwards I felt like a monster, like I'd done it too soon and that he wasn't ready. It didn't help that the euth did not go well and he thrashed, I felt like he was fighting to stay alive and it was evidence that I'd made the wrong decision.

                          Many years later, the next pet I had to put to sleep was my cat who was 19 years old and had kidney disease. Still traumatised by feeling like I'd taken my horse's life too soon, this time I couldn't do it and ended up waiting until there were signs that she was definitely struggling and there was no other option. In hindsight that was probably the wrong decision. It did help my conscience as I didn't get hit with the guilt about taking her too soon, but in exchange my cat had suffered more than she should have and so I felt I'd let her down either way. Though an unintended side effect was that I think it cleared how bad I'd felt about having my horse put to sleep, and I now accept that it was the right decision at the time.

                          So now that I've done both ways I can see the pros and cons of both options. Sometimes you yourself need to see your animal struggle a little bit so that you can psychologically accept that their time has come.... but it comes at a cost of your animal suffering in order to demonstrate that to you, because they can't otherwise tell you until things get bad. It's not a nice thing to do to your pets.

                          Sometimes you just have to try ignore your emotions in the heat of the moment and proceed despite your heart telling you to stop. Your heart is going to want to lie to you because it cares for your pet, but your brain knows it's the right thing to do. I feel for you and have no answer for you other than to say that when the time comes and your heart wants to interject and stop what's happening, try and ignore it and let your brain make the decisions. Down the track your heart will come around and know that it was the right decision. All the best.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Be strong

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Lunabear1988 View Post

                              We havep talked before- I had to put down another young horse 2 years ago due to Trigeminal Nerve pain and other issues. So I totally have been down this road and I know I'm not alone. It's a hard thing to go through but we have to come stronger because of it. Somehow.

                              .
                              I don't much believe in fate but Lunabear perhaps he found you because you WILL do right by him....no one should have to manage this type of situation twice and it sounds like just perhaps you have the shoulders and heart to do it.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Lunabear1988 how horrid for you to have to contemplate this all again. It’s so unfair.

                                If it helps, remember that all horses die eventually. You are in a position to be able to choose a time well before your horse is in pain or suffering. As you say the writing is on the wall, so this may as well be done on a warm sunny day before things go down a horrible road: when you look at your two choices like that it’s so obvious which is the right one.

                                You can prepare mentally. You have the support of anyone with even half a heart. And your horse will not suffer. It’s only you who will have to endure the pain

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  OP, I am so sorry.

                                  Wobblers is a pretty broad term.. but I had a senior horse with cervical arthritis come out of nowhere, which people also assign as "wobblers"..

                                  Full disclosure -- I regret waiting as long as I did to have him PTS. It's been years and any time I see a picture of him, it is the first thing I think about.

                                  It was difficult because he had days where he looked like just another geriatric horse... He would gallop in the field, be feisty at the "underlings" (he was The Patriarch of our farm and supervised everyone and everything!).. Then he had days where his hind legs were walking a totally different track. We thought "sidewinders" at first, did a bunch of steroids and he got much better.. but eventually he started being ataxic again. He never fell, but he couldn't be safely shod -- we ended up having to pull his shoes and try for just trimming ourselves. Because he was kept at our own personal farm, and we were the ones taking care of him and comfortable with that risk, that's what we wanted to do. He still seemed like a happy, healthy horse.

                                  A few weeks into pulling the shoes he double abscessed and declined so rapidly over his body that there was no question anymore. In hindsight I feel so awful putting him through what we did -- it was sobering how quickly he went when the needle went in. I've been to my fair share of those final appointments and I've never seen a horse go as quickly. It made me realize he had been putting on a show, and had been tired for a long time.

                                  I'm so sorry for what you're going through. Lots of hugs for you and your horse.
                                  AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    I'm so sorry OP.

                                    It's never an easy decision and ultimately you need to do what you think is best. It doesn't matter what other people think.

                                    It's so difficult to make this decision objectively. One of the things I use to evaluate my horses: in this condition would he survive in the wild? Basically, I'm asking, "Is he eating? Is he sound? Is it easy for him to get up from laying down/rolling?". If the answer is no, it might be time.

                                    There's a page on facebook where vets provide advice/information. They have a file that provides guidance in making a decision for euthanasia. A quick summary is to identify 3 things your animal enjoys. If they stop doing these things, it might be time.

                                    Comment

                                      Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      You guys are very sweet. Thank you.

                                      Yesterday he ran around the field at a full gallop, jumping ditches with ease. Today he walked around in turnout, tried to roll, got down half way then changed his mind.

                                      Then I went to bring him in and for the first time, was worried for my safety since this all started. He stumbling around and I thought he was going to fall/stumble onto me. Then he straightened out and walked in fine. But for a minute there things weren't right. He looked worried too.

                                      I have no doubt I'm doing the right thing. I've seen and consulted with about 5 great vets. It is just hard to see him look so good some days. But I know what's coming and the safety issue is too great.

                                      Comment

                                        Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        I would rather be bleeding from heartache than have him in pain and injured from falling. No doubt. It just feels like this happened so suddenly. I thought I was paranoid.

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