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  • EPSM Diet

    I have a gelding with classic signs of EPSM. Stiff in hind end, poor topline and muscle, etc. Does not seem to be a particular problem with his back, hocks or stifles even after seeing vet and chiro. Vet has me trying the EPSM diet.

    I am following Beth Valentine's Diet #6 mostly.
    3lbs (dry weight) beet pulp
    6#Kalm Ultra
    2 cups cocosoya oil
    8lbs alfalfa
    free choice grass hay
    VitE/selenium supplement
    mineral block
    He also gets a joint supplement

    He is a thoroughbred, 9 yrs old. He has been on this diet since the end of May. I haven't really seen a difference. He still won't hold a canter and shows stiffness throughout the hind end. His topline is still terrible. He is fat and shiny every where else, his neck, belly and ribs are filled out. But his hips and back and not muscled or filled in. This is kind of a foreign area for my vet.

    Any suggestions on his diet? Not sure where to go from here and looking for suggestions on diet, other tests, and other peoples experiences with EPSM. Lyme is not a huge deal in this area but it is possible. There is no noticeable lameness, just stiffness, unwilling to canter, flinches and acts like I am killing him when I fly spray his back, swaps his back lead while riding and on the lunge line. Should I wait longer on the diet, increase calories?
    Derby Lyn Farms Website

    Derby Lyn Farms on Facebook!

  • #2
    You could do a muscle biopsy test to see if EPSM is really the issue.

    You could try supplementing him wth Acetyl L Carnitine aka ALCAR (Foxden carries it). Although, I think I read that if you are feeding the oil you are supposed to add Carnitine instead of ALCAR. I would not want to take him off the oil at this point (unless the test is negative) since it takes a while to convert them to that diet.

    For his muscle development, you could try supplementing him with Alfalfa. You could experiment with adding amino acids like Tri-Amino and/or BCAA.

    Perhaps it is something physical your vet missed. You could put him on bute for ten days and see if that makes a difference. My vet prefers bute to previcox for this type of test. Your horse could have an issue in his neck or back, for example. Some horses don't like to canter when their front feet hurt. Swapping leads can be just lack of muscle tone or instability in sacroiliac.

    I have one horse who really responded to the high fat diet, but then I still had to re-train him to be responsive and work in front of the leg.

    Also, forgive the obvious question, but does his saddle fit? Is he worm-free? A horse can have a lot of symptoms coincide that are not related. If the EPSM diet did not work, You may have to explore each symptom on its own.


    • #3
      I'm not really sure I'd feed L-Carnitine to a horse that sounds "puny" as it's a non essential amino acid that aides the body in fat metabolization (it's great to help LOSE weight for people). I've never heard of supplementing horses with it, so maybe it reacts with a different set of chemistry in their bodies, but since it works the same in dogs, I doubt it.

      I have an EPSM thoroughbred and a selles francais prone to low magnesium. They presented the same symptoms but eat entirely different diets.

      EPSM TB
      4lbs alfalfa pellets
      1lb equalizer ration balancer
      2 cups veg oil
      24/7 pasture on fertilized grass
      1lb dry weight beet pulp
      joint supplement

      Mag def. SF
      2lbs alfalfa pellets
      .5lb equalizer ration balancer
      1/2c veg oil
      remission supplement (crucial for magnesium supplementation)
      accel supplement (for additional selenium)
      apple a day electrolytes (SERIOUSLY crucial for pliable muscle)
      24/7 pasture on fertilized grass.
      chaque pas est fait ensemble


      • Original Poster

        His saddle does fit. He will still swap leads on the lunge line without any tack, and has done this from day one. His back is very sensitive to any sprays and he actually slinks down when I spray him. It could be a neck issue that we are missing.

        I understand that the L-carnitine is to help with energy, but I also understood it was to help lose weight.

        Petstorejunkie-how long until you noticed a difference with your horse on the epsm diet?

        I am going to ask around and see what I can find out about other local vets and if they are familiar with epsm and doing a muscle biopsy test.
        Derby Lyn Farms Website

        Derby Lyn Farms on Facebook!


        • #5
          I would definitely try adding Tri Amino, but also make sure you are following the exercise regimine of the EPSM protocol. Otherwise, maybe try another chiro. Our thoroughbred who is not EPSM totally lost his top line when he had SI issues. Sarapin injections and alternately shockwave have worked very well for him.


          • #6
            If this were my horse this is what I would do, provided I had no "proof" the horse has EPSM.

            I'd gradually introduce a high NSC diet as a trial. In my personal and completely anecdotal experience, some horses need more simple carbs to perform strong work than other horses do and the symptoms they show when they don't have enough carbs are similar to the EPSM symptom list.

            If the horse was on a 10% NSC hard feed, I'd go with 20%. If 20%, maybe some oats.


            • #7
              Our gelding was diagnosed via biopsy at 20 months old (moderate, type II). The hospital told us we would see a difference within 6 mo of the diet change, but I started seeing improvement within a month and a half. By 3 months it was night and day. Im sure every horse is different, but if you haven't noticed a difference by now, you may want to explore different potential causes. Good luck, hope you get to the bottom of things soon!
              Work - feed - ride - shovel poop - repeat.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Derby Lyn Farms View Post

                Petstorejunkie-how long until you noticed a difference with your horse on the epsm diet?

                he was already on a low NSC diet, what we were missing was the fat. When I added fat, I saw a difference within a week.

                I'd try magnesium and electrolytes, because swapping behind and tight butt muscles were the #1 behavioral symptoms with my SF.
                chaque pas est fait ensemble


                • #9
                  Doesn't Valentine say it takes 4-6 months on the diet to see results?

                  Mine initially got worse when changed his diet (quite dramatically worse) but I think that was due to having been given too much grain for about two weeks prior to me finding out about the probable EPSM. It was not a lot by most standards, but was about 8 times what he had been getting (almost nothing) each day. I had been doing almost everything right for EPSM management except for the fat and supplements and he'd never had major issues, just a feeling of something isn't quite right. He had never been close to tying up before the diagnosis, but he was close a number of times in the weeks that followed. It probably took a couple of months to get him back to his old normal, and then he kept getting better from there.

                  Four months out I had a different horse, and he never did have the apparently common relapse that many horses have around the 4 month mark. But I really had been doing almost everything recommended (a handful of grain, 24 hr turnout, working 6-7 days a week for an hour or more) for EPSM horses before that, so there wasn't a huge change needed.

                  I don't know that I'd try increasing NSCs just yet. Mine seems to be more sensitive to excess NSCs than he was prior to the diet change.


                  • Original Poster

                    I don't think I want to try increasing NSCs just yet. Before I started him on the diet I wanted him to gain weight, and was probably doing what you did Redhorses, I had him on a ton of grain to gain weight, which he did not gain the weight being on more grain.

                    I will look into his SI and also the magnesium and electrolytes. I do give electrolytes but not every day. Had to look up the Tri-Amino. It is cheap and worth a shot. I'd like to add one thing to his diet at a time. Magnesium is to calm them down, but I just bought calcium pills for myself that have magnesium in it, had something to do with muscles-don't really remember now I will have to read my bottle again. Magnesium won't make him too quiet will it? Otherwise he doesn't really need to settle down any.
                    Derby Lyn Farms Website

                    Derby Lyn Farms on Facebook!