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Would you take a horse with history of EPM?

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  • Would you take a horse with history of EPM?

    I need some advice about a horse I’m interested in! I’ve done some searching around and found a thread addressing this topic but it was from 2009. Surely EPM treatments and outcomes has changed in the past couple of years

    I just had to retire my mare and re-home her. Because of her vet bills, last year's wedding, and some unexpected medical bills, I don’t have a big horse purchase budget. I have a horse care budget, which has a pretty good cushion, but If I used all that money to buy a nice horse, I’d be out of money for board, new tack, our vacation, etc.

    Through word of mouth (our vet actually) I heard about a horse that used to board at my barn that's being sold. She's pretty much perfect. She's perfect size, temperament, and looks a lot like my previous mare so Im emotionally interested already. She's an easy keeper and easy to work around, very polite, gets along with others, hacks out, sweet, good breeding, etc.

    The problem: EPM! It presented as a problem picking up one canter lead and seemed like it was a pain issue. I believe it went on for about a month and was first misdiagnosed as hock problems. They did adequan and she didn’t respond. On the second visit, they diagnosed grade 1 EPM, confirmed later by the blood test. They treated it (ill have to ask how) and she responded right away. She was able to remain in light work throughout the treatment and improved greatly. This was last summer. The owner is a high school student and the winter combined with being busy, she wasn’t really able to keep her going much through the winter and is just now starting to get her going again and so far, so good. She's 12.

    I talked to the owner last night. She's about to leave for college and is most interested in finding her a good home where she will be loved. She told me that if I took her, she would give her to me for free along with all her tack and blankets.

    So.......I should also mention that the vet who treated the horse was the one to recommend the horse and says that she responded very well to the treatment. She did say that she thinks she will need some hock joint support. She did flex positive in the hocks when they were first trying to diagnose her. I can handle hock support as I just handled stifle support for the past 4 years so, in a free horse, I don’t think that’s the deal breaker for me.....but the EPM scares me because I don’t know a lot about it.

    My goals are first level dressage and hacking out a lot. I do ride a lot, probably 4-5 times a week ring work mixed with trails.

    So, what do you think?

    Also, with EPM, I’d have to forever be careful about giving her steroids, correct? What about hock injections if she needed them later on? Are there supplements for immune systems that could be helpful? I read that stressful situations could cause a relapse. She's a Connemara so not exactly the uptight nervous worrier type and my barn is very low key, low stress.

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    I would not, personally, unless you have the space and time for a horse that might or might not be able to work and be ridden for years to come. Too many different ways that a horse can break your heart, and I would not willingly want to own one with a built in problem like that, unless it was as a pasture pet. Others' opinions would no doubt vary a lot, so you're going to have to work it out for yourself. Good luck!
    Click here before you buy.

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    • #3
      I would not.

      You can buy a 100 percent healthy horse and still have problems (lots of vet bills) down the road but I would never go into horse ownership with any problems from the get go.
      You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.

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      • #4
        There will be those who'll say "Yes! My perfect horse has had it!"

        Nope. Not me. I have a very nice horse in my barn who is now in the chronic stage. It is the most frustrating thing, and I am dreading the day that it becomes a heart breaker.

        She may never, ever have an issue again. But, then again, she might. It is expensive to treat. Just seriously not worth it in my book.
        Amanda

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        • #5
          What others have said, but that sounds like a pretty un-definitive diagnosis of EPM to me. The most common meds. have significant anti-inflammatory side effects that can make many, many lamenesses and subtle "neuro" afflictions disappear. Unless she was showing marked ataxia, or they did a spinal-tap or the Davis test that came up positive, I wouldn't assume that's what she had.

          My suggestion would be to offer to lease her and see where it goes.

          Comment


          • #6
            If you just had to re-home a horse in part due to vet bills associated with that horse, I definitely would not get a horse with a history of EPM. That's another condition that is likely to result in a lot of vet bills. Even if it seems to be gone now, that is not always the end of the story.

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            • #7
              No. Boarded where someone's horse had EPM. It can reoccur because that "bug" is hard to kill. Plus whatever damage it has done before being treated is permanent damage.

              So while I'd always keep my horses if this happened to them, I wouldn't buy a horse whom I know would probably cost me thousands in vet bills for a pre-existing condition.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by FineAlready View Post
                If you just had to re-home a horse in part due to vet bills associated with that horse, I definitely would not get a horse with a history of EPM. That's another condition that is likely to result in a lot of vet bills. Even if it seems to be gone now, that is not always the end of the story.
                Nah, I had to retire her and re-home her because she was no longer sound to ride, not because I couldnt afford the bills. If I could have gotten a clear diagnosis of "its this and this is what she needs" than I would have provided it for her but it was a whole long drawn out mess taking over 7 months and then some time to rehome her. It was exhausting.....so Im feeling pretty risk adverse right now and not sure if thats due to the whole recent experience or not so I really wanted other opinions so THANKS everyone! Some of the ladies in my barn think I should go for it because she is everything I would want in a horse and free but............what if?

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                • #9
                  I wouldn't pay money for her, but as a freebee? Maybe. Discuss it with her vet, discuss what would be done with her if EPM reoccurred with the current owner. Would you be comfortable the euthanasia if it did reoccur and she was unridable? There's risk of EPM with any horse and you could even buy a horse that recovered from EPM and not know it if it wasn't disclosed.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BeanCounterPony View Post
                    Nah, I had to retire her and re-home her because she was no longer sound to ride, not because I couldnt afford the bills. If I could have gotten a clear diagnosis of "its this and this is what she needs" than I would have provided it for her but it was a whole long drawn out mess taking over 7 months and then some time to rehome her. It was exhausting.....so Im feeling pretty risk adverse right now and not sure if thats due to the whole recent experience or not so I really wanted other opinions so THANKS everyone! Some of the ladies in my barn think I should go for it because she is everything I would want in a horse and free but............what if?
                    There is no such thing as a "free" horse!

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                    • #11
                      I don't know a great deal about EPM, but have had friends have horses that have/do have it. It seems to 'reoccur' each year around the anniversary of the first onslaught of it. There have been horses from just a slight afliction to one that had severe shoulder muscle atrophy that will NEVER improve. One horse is unrideable...and is now in retirement pastures. The other - still in work - but will never be able to climb up the levels of dressage, which is where he was headed. The medications are super expensive...and you JUST DON'T KNOW when/if it will reoccur and what the damage has already been to the system.
                      Heather
                      Green Cove Springs, FL

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                      • #12
                        Sounds like another horse you'll need to "rehome" when she becomes unridable. Where do you find good homes that want to take on unridable horses in this economy?

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                        • #13
                          Nope. I have 2 with it and would not knowingly buy one. Love my guys. One is retired from it and one is going great and that one was really not truly high positive but we treated just in case. The one that I know for a fact has it has cost me around 3k in treatments and even though he is good now he is not rideable because he still trips on occasion and it's to dangerous. As well as I never know when that next 3k will have to come out of my pocket for more treatments because there is a high rate if relapsing with epm. This horse maybe free but you have to look at the long run and it maybe cheaper to buy a horse in this market then get a freebie with an issue you know can cost thousands.
                          Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

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                          • #14
                            No, I would not. I've been through the heartbreak of watching a fantastic horse become a pasture ornament and relapse yet again....God knows what we spent but it was a lot in his two attacks and he never came back. I eventually lost him to heaves (euthanized) because I could not use steroids to treat the heaves. He was miserable all summer so I decided to end it in the Spring of 2010 on a good day knowing the worst was yet to come.

                            There are just too many good horses in this economy that you ought to be able to find without taking on one with a lifelong issue like that.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              No. I lost my 31-yr old to EPM last fall. He went downhill so fast that he was unsafe to be around and I had my vet put him down. The only way I'd take on a horse with a history of EPM is if I had my own place and the horse was to be a companion only.
                              "When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered." CANTER New England

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                              • #16
                                I have a wonderful TB mare buried out back whom I lost to EPM when she was 9 years old. However, when we noticed the problem she was very compromised- atrophied muscles in her neck. She died back in 1998.

                                Likewise, I can think of 4 horses owned by friends who had EPM that was caught early and treated with Marquies and all those horses were doing great the last I knew. One was a National High School Champion All Around Cowboy horse- the gelding did 3 events. He was passed on to another High School rodeo boy who hauled him everywhere for 4 years. Another was a TWH mare. Caught early and the mare is fine.

                                It's a crap shoot but if you go into it with your eyes wide open you could possibly have the mare a long time with no problems or she could have a flare up in a year that leaves her very compromised.

                                And I agree with the poster who said a give away horse with EPM yes but I wouldnt put money on the table for one. Even though I know horses who have survived EPM and been usable afterwards, I work too hard for my cash to buy one with that in it's history.

                                Good luck!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by BeanCounterPony View Post
                                  Nah, I had to retire her and re-home her because she was no longer sound to ride, not because I couldnt afford the bills.
                                  I hate to sound so blunt, but if this is your approach to horse ownership, perhaps you would be better leasing. I am not a fan of pawning off responsibility once a horse isn't usable for what you wanted out of them. Taking on a horse with a tenous health history is not a good idea. No one will want this one when you can't ride her anymore.
                                  They aren't athletic equipment.
                                  As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Thanks so much for judging me when you have no idea what my circumstances were. That was so helpful to me in making my decision and exactly what I was asking when I posted my questions. Thanks for reading my questions about EPM and offering your very welcomed opinion of me "pawning" off my responsibility, since surely that’s exactly what I did, since you obviously know the entire situation based off the very few facts I provided. In fact, my mare actually went to live with a family friend to be a broodmare. You have no idea how much I agonized over my decision to even give her to a FRIEND. You have no idea how fortunate I consider myself to have a FRIEND who could take her; a friend who I trust as a good horsewoman and I know for certain will take the best care of her. You also have no idea how the difficulty in making my decision to "pawn" her off to my friend has factored into my decision about taking the EPM mare. Thanks for assuming I would just “pawn” this one off if she were having neurological problems because I obviously treat my animals like athletic equipment and have no sense of accepting my own responsibilities.

                                    For everyone who provided constructive opinions and advice based on my questions, I have decided to pass. I think I would be too paranoid that every stumble or every trip would be a sign it was coming back and I would probably worry all the time about her. Ive decided to keep looking. Thanks so much!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Yep, I agree. Every time my boy looks a little funny, or trips I'm running around watching his every move to make sure he is not flaring up again. If you are like me in that way you do not need this horse. You will be a worry wart and drive yourself crazy over everything thing.
                                      Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        No. I've never been through such a heart breaking experience in my life, and it wasn't my horse...he was a boarder and he relapsed.

                                        I just read the complete thread. If you don't have enough money for emergencies, which is sounds like you don't...do the horse a favor and don't buy him.

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