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EPM - clinical signs - how did YOUR horse present?

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  • EPM - clinical signs - how did YOUR horse present?

    There is such a wide range of clinical signs for this disease; I am curious for those of you whose horses tested positive - how did they present (what signs were they showing)?

  • #2
    horse#1-appeared to have a weird "palsy". He would turn his head and then it just kinda jerked in place for a while. Also could not stand upright with a foot held up (ie farrier)

    horse #2- crossed front and back feet while walking, did not stride straight, went off feed and appeared to have lost muscle tone


    • #3
      Mine had extreme muscle wastage and very depressed. The topline just vanished. This is a 17hh tb who looked like a hat rack with fur. There were no neuro signs. Rebounded w/ 2 mths Marquis. Back to full work and looks great!


      • #4
        Back feet twisted when he walked. That was the only sign before the neuro exam was done. Was positive on the neuro, so we tested/treated.

        When it came back the second time, his back hips/legs were just all over the place. When he walked, his back hooves left prints 6-8 inches from where his right hooves hit the ground. Even just standing, he was crooked and looked like he was about to fall over.
        Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
        White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

        Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.


        • #5
          Her stifles looked like they were catching every so often and she lost her top line super fast.


          • #6
            I will be following this thread since my mare has been having mystery lameness issues and trouble getting up and down. One vet didn't think it was neurological and when I got a second opinion from another vet, he said she did have neurological symptoms, and since she was postive to the blood test for EPM wants to start treatment. I don't know what to think. She was born and lived until about 1 year old in an area where EPM is common. But spent the last 11 or so years in an area where there are no opossums and EPM is very rare. Symptoms started showing up in the last year. Could EPM lie dormant that long?

            The thing the second vet pointed out was she seemed to not know where her feet are. He placed one front foot in front of/across the other and she left it there. He said a normal horse would put it back. Well she is pretty laid back draft horse, maybe she is just not concerned about her foot being there. So I tried it on another one of my horses at home. I placed his foot in a similar position and he left it there for a second or two. Not as long as my mare did, but he didn't immediately put it back either. Was this something that those of you with EPM horses saw?


            • #7
              He just seemed stiff and sore through the back, and was moving unevenly in the hind end. I even had the vet out early on, and the vet thought he had torqued his back while playing with the other horses and suggested NSAIDS and rest. It seemed to help, so I put him back into work...then it came back. We played that game for a few months, and THEN he started getting muscle wasting along the topline and didn't seem to know where his feet were. Vet came back out and this time EPM came up as the diagnosis.


              • #8
                My trainer picked up on it fairly quickly during the trial period on our horse. He was 5 years old without tons of training, but solid w/t/c. Trainer noticed that he seemed "not to know where his limbs were" and wasn't sure if it was neuro or just a lanky, uncoordinated youngster.

                When the vet came out, we walked my horse down a fairly steep hill. He would halt and not want to walk down the hill, and when he would, he would do so haltingly and stumbled frequently. Then the vet took him on a flat surface and spun him in a tight circle. His front hooves tracked properly, crossing over the way you would expect, but his back hooves did not. He wouldn't cross his back hooves, and he would step on himself, or plant them and pivot instead.

                We treated him, he recovered, and has made it into his 20s without a relapse.


                • Original Poster

                  Update - the horse in question came back positive for EPM.

                  Luckily the veterinarian treating him is also a PhD doing research on EPM. She's pretty confident that we can get him "right" again.

                  His clinical signs:

                  Bought the horse 3 weeks ago, out of a field where he had been to pasture for 2 years. 6 y.o. OTTB that only raced six times; no known injuries or illnesses. Bought him from the original owner and breeder that has had him his whole life. He appeared sound (although really out of shape) and passed flexions at that time. He did have muscle wasting over his back and hips, but I thought this was due to being out of work for two years and being wormy.

                  Brought him home; he seemed "foot sore" after a trim; grade 1-2 lameness. Soaked his feet, did the whole "foot sore" treatment. He would get slightly better but then would get worse again.

                  Two weeks later horse still isn't right. At this point I'm pretty suspicious it's EPM. He seems to have a "shifting" lameness that appears to be in one leg, and then the next day I swear it's a different leg. When trotting on the lunge line he trips out behind on occassion, and when he canters, he immediately cross fires or breaks back down to the trot. He can't hold a lead behind. He also bucks when asked to move forward, and acts like he's frustrated.

                  Thanks for your stories; I was curious to hear what other people's experiences were. Feel free to add how your horse was treated, did they return to a full performance level, and if they relapsed or not.


                  • #10
                    My horse presented with RH lameness that seemed to be emanating from a sore SI--vet injected it several times, with improvement each time. The soreness kept returning though. Lost a lot of topline, and then became "disorganized" under tack. No one could really see it, but I felt it.

                    Treated with Baycox/DMSO with a very quick improvement. Relapsed 8 months later (supposedly most common within first year of initial diagnosis), and got another round of Baycox/DMSO and is now on diclazuril daily. So far, so good. He is back to normal. Best of luck to you, EPM sucks.


                    • #11
                      Had no lameness issues at all. Horse had always been VERY athletic, not one to mis-step, knew where all his parts were at all times. DD was working him for practices, he started being resistant, especially backing up for Trail obstacles. He would seem to trip a little now and again. Just oddities now and then, until she was having some issues with her sidepassing. I went to help, using fingers while she got legs in place. I was blaming HER for not asking him correctly, so getting in there to get her right. Horse was NOT moving when finger pushed as he KNEW how to do, FINALLY when he did, he ripped off his shoe by stepping on it! Told her he was done for the day, put him away.

                      Talked to husband about the problem, he thought it was just age, maybe had some wear and tear stuff going, since horse was 18yrs, had been used hard for a lot of years. Not just doing "western stuff" with DD for 4-H. So he set up an appointment, and I said the get him EPM tested after reading about how oddly the EPM could present here on COTH. Husband said "couldn't be EPM, he would be nurological, falling down" since those were the only kind he had seen, all had to be put down when it happened. They were REALLY BAD.
                      Horse did test positive for EPM, we did the series with Marquis, he got better! He had the 30 days off, kept quiet, missed Fair. But he came back to himself by the end of it, went back to work and had no more tripping, stumbling or crabby attitude problems.

                      As many have said here on COTH, there was a marked improvement in a week of treatment, cheered up a LOT.

                      DD, husband and I talked after, compared what we had seen. If we had done that sooner, we might have done things quicker. Just that not one of us had seen ALL the oddities. Husband recalled seeing horse rubbing his hind legs together, thinking he had NEVER seen a horse do that before! Looking back, it probably was horse trying to feel his legs, like you rub fingers when your hand goes to sleep. I noticed his crabbiness, not hanging with his friends when outside, tripping during her lessons. DD had lots of almost non-responsive things to his normal cue spots, had to ride much stronger than he ever needed before. Each one alone was not a signal, but all together they were kind of a layout for the gradual onset type EPM. We all knew the horse extremely well, had owned and used him then, for 10 years so we noticed the little stuff, just wasn't HIM in normal work. And after treatment he never rubbed hind legs together again, never pulled a shoe, was easy to ride agaon.

                      Get the horse tested, give him the time off for meds, because if he has EPM, the faster you deal with it, the better the full recovery rate for him. Vet said he never would have GUESSED our horse had EPM, but we knew he wasn't himself. COTH comments were a clue to me, some of the unrelated sounding things had added up to the EPM for them, AFTER removing all other NQR ideas. I figured that we could START with EPM, then go other ways if he was clean. Cheaper too!!


                      • #12
                        My boy was just a little "off" for years. Joint injections helped a little but he would still swing his hind end when trotting or cantering. 1st vet thought it was an old pelvic fracture ( he is an OTTB) 2nd vet thought lyme and pulled a EPM as well. He was positive for both with crazy high titres! After much consulting with Cornell we treated the lyme for 2 months then the EPM for 2 months then back to the lyme for another 8 months. My boy is perfect now!! Hasn't needed any joint injections for almost 2 1/2 years now!! ( knock on wood!!!!!!)


                        • #13
                          Had an 8 year old mare that started to lose her leads behind while cantering. She'd get really pissy about it, like she was mad at herself.

                          She also had minor attitude changes. She had days where she just dragged her ass, not marish, more like she was depressed. This was a high energy, TB jumper mare that I'd owned for 4 years and I def knew something was wrong.

                          But not holding her lead was the biggest thing. I had a different trainer get on her and he said she didn't feel right but couldn't put his finger on it.

                          Blood work and spinal taps came back posititve.
                          You're entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts!