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My heart horse was diagnosed with EPM on Saturday.... UPDATE 3/12 on pg 2

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  • My heart horse was diagnosed with EPM on Saturday.... UPDATE 3/12 on pg 2

    My 23 year old mare was diagnosed with EPM on Saturday...something I never thought I'd go through with this horse. Hoping for a "full" recovery (if there is such a thing) even if it is just making her comfortable enough to be a pasture puff. I'm hoping since she's in such good condition otherwise (looks like she isn't a day over 15, was jumping 3' a month ago, etc.) that we have a chance, but the worst part is that it's just a waiting game to see if there's any improvement with the Marquis/bute regimen (today will be day 2 of treatment). For those of you who have been through this before...what else can I do for her? I've combed through the other EPM posts and saw that Elevate W.S. vitamin E was recommended - I'm going to call my vet and ask for a script for that first thing tomorrow. Anything else I can do to help ensure she has the best chances at recovery possible?

    She has neurological signs, but they're mostly limited to the hind end which the vets seemed to think was encouraging, as she had no cranial symptoms/damage. She doesn't really want to use her left hind leg - will put some weight on it, but lists to the right with the right hind leg awkwardly mostly under the hind end supporting herself. For being neurologic and not really able to effectively use the left hind to support herself, she still is very aware of where it is...even if she walks in a permanent haunches in. She's not depressed or lethargic, still wants to eat, still acts like her normal 16h chestnut mare self, can lay down and get up without much more difficulty than she had before...there's just the neuro symptoms in the hind end.

    I feel like a horrible person because I basically did this to her. She had been getting hock injections every 8-12 months to help keep her comfortable in the show ring. This time, we didn't even make is to the 6 month mark (or so I thought) before she was weak on the left side (not abnormal - she had a suspensory issue in the left hind 6 years ago that has since healed but is the first side to struggle when she's getting close to needing injections) and not really wanting to step under herself. About a week later, she wanted nothing to do with any sort of serious flatwork and would throw a temper tantrum if I pushed the issue too much - and she always seemed to want to go in a slight haunches in. All of these things together were her normal "I need my hocks injected" signals. Last Saturday, the vet injected her hocks. Hind sight being 20/20, there was something wrong when he sedated her - she pretty much sat on the back gate of the stocks and was leaning to the right, so much so that he had a hard time injecting a couple of the sites (but, she is a cheap drunk and I thought he had just given her a little more than usual). I had him check her teeth as my trainer said she had been holding her grain funny in her mouth, but he wasn't able to find anything that needed more than just a quick filing, which he did. Again, hind sight being 20/20, this was the first sign of EPM about a month ago. And another little tid-bit, you don't give EPM horses any kind of corticosteroid, such as cortizone mixed with polyglycan in hock injections, otherwise you experience this: I gave her 4 days off for the injections, and on the 5th day I got a call from my trainer right before I was supposed to get off work, "Don't freak out, but your horse is having trouble walking." FML. Take horse to the clinic, a couple days later is diagnosed with EPM.

    It all makes sense in hindsight: the increased number of b*tchy chestnut mare days, the weakening of the left hind, the walking in a slight haunches in to the left, holding her grain funny in her mouth.....ugh. She's my heart horse...my first 1.20m horse, the first (and only) horse I've ever jumped a 4'6" combination on, the horse that had a (scary) autopilot mode when I completely lost my brain and couldn't find a distance to a single fence in my first Level 2 class...and again in my first 1.20m class. This mare has been my rock through a lot of sh*t in the 8 years that I've owned her - moving with me from TX to KY to SC to GA in 4 years while working for barns and trying to go pro, before deciding I loved riding a lot more as an amateur and moving back to TX to graduate from college. I at least owe it to her to try to fix this mess that I have gotten her into...

    You know you're having a bad week when you get rear-ended at a stoplight by an 18-wheeler in your new Jeep that you haven't even made your first payment on, then your new job that you've only been at for a month gets raided by the FBI, then a day later your horse gets diagnosed with EPM. I swear this crap only happens to me.
    Last edited by Rio Blanco; Mar. 12, 2013, 10:54 PM. Reason: spelling

  • #2
    I'm very sorry to hear about your mare. Wow, you've had a really rough week...I hope things get better for you! 2012 was kind of like that for me....one thing after another until you wonder how much more you can take!

    Anyway, it has been a while since I've treated for EPM, but I remember we supplemented with Vit E. And then it was just treat and wait. Both horses I was involved with did recover. They were both pleasure horses, not show horses, but the symptoms did go away with the treatment.

    Don't blame yourself...neuro issues are extremely hard to diagnose, even for vets. You did the best you could for her and you are doing everything right now.

    Good luck!


    • #3
      Oh, I am so sorry to read this Rio Blanco. Can't provide any experienced guidance, but still sending hugs for such a tough week. Hoping all turns around for you soon.
      But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson


      • #4
        So sorry for you!

        As for what else you can do, a diet change is very important as you need to acomodate the changes her body is making:
        - Cut out all alfalfa
        - Cut out all cereals
        - Hay should be bermuda, orchard-grass mix or timothy, and as much as she'l eat.
        - Besides Vit E, Beta-Glucan supplementation also seems to help
        - Add a good pre/probiotic to her diet, to help counteract the harm medication will be doing to her hind gut.

        Bets of luck!


        • Original Poster

          Thanks, guys.

          SCMSL - why cut out the alfalfa, if you don't mind me asking? She is on an alfalfa and soy based grain as I had problems with her colicing quite a bit until I made the switch to alfalfa hay and alfalfa based grain. There's been talk of switching her to either TC Senior or Bluebonnet Senior, but both vets are cautious about doing so since we've had trouble with other such diets in the past.


          • #6
            There has been a study recently (will try to find it for you) saying the protozoa actually love how the alfalfa acts on the hind gut, so if you keep feeding alfalfa to your horse the protozoa have an easier time.


            • #7
              Don't be so hard on yourself first. It sounds like you have been a very good owner to her.

              It sounds like she is very early in the symptoms which is good. The only things I know to do is get her on the Vit E right away. You do not need a perscription for it and can feed up to 8000 IUs a day safely.

              Go to this web site and order it. http://kppusa.com/all-products/elevate-ws/
              You can talk to your vet about it if you want

              And a product (I don't work for them) however highly recommend Karbo Combo

              Web site - http://www.karbostore.com/equine.html

              Only use Panacure or Safe Guard when de worming. Sometimes things like that can cause trouble.

              Keep her moving and using herself as long as she is safe to do so.

              I have an EPM horse diagnosed over 10 years ago and I am getting ready to go ride him now.
              Live in the sunshine.
              Swim in the sea.
              Drink the wild air.


              • #8
                I am so sorry, I remember well how much it royally sucks. I can't give you much advice on treatment, because it has advanced greatly since the time that my heart horse was diagnosed. If it makes you feel any better, he was diagnosed under shockingly similar conditions, at age 21, and he made a full recovery before Marquis was even available. He returned to the show ring (doing 3rd level dressage, and jumping again), and then enjoyed a long retirement before being euthanized at 34 for unrelated reasons (although the EPM did recur the day he died due to steroids we had given him for his breathing - don't ever let your mare even see those again ). Anyway, if he could recover with the SMZs, Vitamin E, and acupuncture that we had available back then, hopefully your mare has a good fighting chance!


                • #9
                  Are you a possum? Did you pee on her hay? No, I didn't think so. I think good animal owners always find a way to blame themselves, even when we are not to blame.
                  Jingles. My mare also was suspected of having EPM and whatever, she never got worse after treatment started. Good luck to you.


                  • #10
                    I have had two horses be diagnosed with EPM. A few things to think about and/or run past your vet:

                    1. If you don't have success with whatever treatment you are currently using, it might be beneficial to try switching to a different drug.

                    2. My vet advised giving 10,000 UI of natural vitamin E. The vitamin E is really helpful for trying to reverse the neurological damage that occurs.

                    3. I am not sure just how bad your horse is, but when I asked my vet about exercising my horse, she wholeheartedly agreed that controlled exercise would be beneficial. My horse was at grade 1, maybe a bit 1+, so she cleared us to do undersaddle work starting out on the flat and gradually increasing to hacking around the farm, up and down the hills. If the horse is in too bad of shape right now to ride, maybe just handwalking would be of some benefit.

                    4. Some people/ websites recommend putting EPM horses on immune supplements, especially ones that include Pau D'Arco (sp?). The theory is that most horses are exposed to EPM, but only some actually become debilitated by their exposure, so it might have something to do with a weakened immune system. I used, and continue to use Uckele's Herbalmune. As a side note, he also had a skin funk on his lower hind legs during the time he was diagnosed with EPM, and since being on the immune supplement, it has gone away and not come back even with all the mud we've had this winter.

                    FWIW, my horse is considered "cured" as much as any horse that has had EPM can be. If I remember correctly, my vet said that if the horse improves by one neurological grade, it is considered cured. I am always on alert for a relapse, but at this point there is nothing holding us back- we walk, trot, canter, gallop, and jump. Lots of trail riding this time of year.

                    I wish you and your horse all the best as you battle the EPM.


                    • #11
                      Yes I used the elevate and also msm but I did the new oroquin 10 treatments. I treated my guy with the Marquis 3 years ago and then a epm cocktail as they call it. He stopped getting worse but didn't get better. I retired him at that point. He was 16 yrs old. 3 yrs later heard about the new trials on here. Talked to my vet he got him into the trials and 150 dollars later he was 90% better. We have started riding him again and he is doing great! So just remember if you don't get anywhere with the Marquis then look into the trial. Also they have found the link of epm with encephalitis and the levasolme(sp?) drug they give helps with that. He is back to his old self in temperament and just overall happier.
                      Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


                      • Original Poster

                        I ordered the Elevate W.S. for her tonight, hopefully it will be here soon (only option was USPS Regular or Priority mail ). I talked to the vet more today - she said to give her 10cc's of the Elevate per day when it gets here. I also told her about the oroquin-10 trials, which she hadn't heard of. She told me to send her what I know about it and that she'll look into it if we need a Plan B if the Marquis isn't doing the trick, but wanted to make sure she thought it was safe before I did anything. I'm going to get her the Uckele's immune support supplement when I get paid at the end of the month (currently I'm just hoping I can afford gas to/from work and the barn to medicate my horse until then ).

                        Vet said she was a grade 2-2.5 severity - definitely not cleared to ride, but stable enough to do some legit hand walking (okay...more like she drags me - I forgot what it's like to have a horse on stall rest with a small run). But today we were actually using the bum left hind leg to support a *little* more weight....not a lot, but a little....but I'll take it. Any kind of improvement works for me, no matter how slight....heck, just not getting worse makes my day too. Here's to hoping we can do this....


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rabicon View Post
                          Yes I used the elevate and also msm but I did the new oroquin 10 treatments. I treated my guy with the Marquis 3 years ago and then a epm cocktail as they call it. He stopped getting worse but didn't get better. I retired him at that point. He was 16 yrs old. 3 yrs later heard about the new trials on here. Talked to my vet he got him into the trials and 150 dollars later he was 90% better. We have started riding him again and he is doing great! So just remember if you don't get anywhere with the Marquis then look into the trial. Also they have found the link of epm with encephalitis and the levasolme(sp?) drug they give helps with that. He is back to his old self in temperament and just overall happier.

                          I'm assuming that he had lingering neurological deficits since you decided to retire him. How does your vet explain regeneration of neural tissue after 3 years in a damaged state?
                          "Absent a correct diagnosis, medicine is poison, surgery is trauma and alternative therapy is witchcraft" A. Kent Allen


                          • Original Poster

                            UPDATE - 3/6/2013

                            I just thought I would update this in case anyone is searching on here for EPM treatment stories like I did when my horse was first diagnosed.

                            Today is Day 12 of the Marquis & Elevate W.S. treatment for my mare. She was on bute for the first 10 days, and we recently started a big glob of rice bran oil with the Marquis as I have seen a lot that points to high fat helps with the absorption rate of the Marquis. We have gone from a severe 2+ (borderline 3) diagnoses, leaning opposite ways with the hind end and front end, barely able to stand without something to lean on - to ground driving at the walk with the hind end working properly and very light trotting in-hand in the arena occasionally. The only time that she really got worse before she started showing improvement was the first 2 days of the Marquis. After 2 doses, we were barely coordinated enough to stay on all 4 feet while grazing and had to take steps after practically every bite to stay "balanced" (I use the term loosely...nothing about any of that was balanced). Then slowly the hind in started coming in-line with the front end - and about a week into treatment the rotation in the right hind leg (the main weight bearing leg since the EPM flare-up began) began to subside. Sunday she was able to go back into her paddock from the stall with a run that she was in, as we were no longer worried about her falling or not being able to support herself all day/night without the stall wall there if she needed it. Today (and for the past 3 days) we are standing evenly on all 4 legs and were even good enough to be able to stand for the farrier to get her front set of shoes reset and a trim behind.

                            Vet said that since she is responding like this that it is hopeful that she will be riding sound again in the future. We go back to the clinic for a re-evaluation after the end of the first 5 weeks of Marquis, which will be in 3 weeks. I hope we continue to improve.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JackieBlue View Post
                              I'm assuming that he had lingering neurological deficits since you decided to retire him. How does your vet explain regeneration of neural tissue after 3 years in a damaged state?

                              The dr that is running the trials is still studying him. She is now running his bw for free which is great because she said he is an interesting case. What they seem to be learning with these horses is it seems a good portion of the neuro signs maybe coming from the encephalitis instead of just nerve damage itself. He is doing amazing though and I just can't believe that we are riding him again. He is balanced, can tail pull and he doesn't almost fall over he actually pulls against us like he is suppose to. He is balanced having the farrier do is back feet now also he doesn't drop his feed anymore and he doesn't trip. All the signs he had is gone. I'm just grateful and he is off all medication now and been off for about 2 months. If he starts showing any signs he will go back on the levasolme for about 2 weeks to help the swelling in his brain, such as if he has a relapse. I have kept him on the elevate maintenance powder though.
                              Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


                              • #16
                                Great news. I hope she comes through great and continues to get better!
                                Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


                                • #17
                                  If you don't have success with Marquis, look into the new drug, Oroquin 10. It's just catching on, and has been very successful in treating EPM. It's also A LOT less money than Marquis.


                                  • #18
                                    Sending lots of jingles


                                    • #19
                                      What wonderful news. So glad she is improving.


                                      • #20
                                        the protozoa actually love how the alfalfa acts on the hind gut, so if you keep feeding alfalfa to your horse the protozoa have an easier time.
                                        AFAIK the protozoa that are normal inhabitants of the hindgut have nothing to do with the protozoa that cause EPM . . .
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