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Fibrotic Myopathy

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  • Fibrotic Myopathy

    My horse was just diagnosed with fibrotic myopathy. It is a mild case. I would love to hear stories from people who have experience with this condition. My vet said that showing would be out, but I've read a couple of accounts on line where the horse was shown successfully.

    I have been riding this horse on the shoulder of the road, to rehab a suspensory injury. The vet indicated that I should be careful on hard surfaces (e.g. paved roads with no shoulder to ride on), since my horse is barefoot in back, and could easily bruise that foot because of the slapping action. The vet suggested shoes in back, perhaps with borium if I would be riding on pavement at all. This horse (yes, he is a bit of a train wreck!) also has stifle and hock issues, so I prefer to leave him barefoot in back. Anyone used boots or some other method to help keep such a horse comfortable and prevent bruising? I'm thinking rocks/rough footing on trail rides might be a problem as well.

    Lastly, I'm wondering about the timeline of fibrotic myopathy. The injury which I presume caused it happened 3 weeks ago. Based on your experience, might it progress more (more scar tissue), since it hasn't been that long? Anyone use massage or specific stretches, and did it help? The vet said 'Learn to love it, its here to stay'. The plan for this guy is probably to be a trail horse now, unless I can get him to the point where we can do local schooling shows and not get the gate for looking lame. I don't plan to do the surgery.

  • #2
    My 17 year old quarter horse has Fibrotic Myopathy. He has had it for about 9 years now. He was kicked by another horse in the pasture and thats what caused it. He had about 6 months off and I slowly started riding him again. He was and still is a barrel horse, I dealt with it for about 6 years and had the surgery done on him. It did not cure it, and he still has the text book slap walk of fibrotic myopathy. The vet said it will never go away, its apart of him. As far as no shoes goes, if you dont have shoes on him now, he should be fine. I take the shoes off in the winter of all my horses and Byrd never has a problem or gets sore. I think you will be fine, fibrotic myopathy is not all that common and alot of vets dont know much about it, not saying your vet doesnt, but mine had to refer to her text book before she diagnosed him and it took 6 years for her to do so. She never even thought about it. I will warn you, you will forever hear that your horse is lame if you take him into public places. I get it all the time, I would just have your vet write a paper and keep it with you with you have him out. My boy is just fine and happy and healthy. The best advise I can give you is not to let him sit when you "retire" him. The best thing for him is to keep that leg stretched out. That is the advice I got from the head vet at New Bolton, where Barbaro was. The vet that preformed the surgery on my horse and gave me that advise is the same that cared for Barbaro. I hope I answered your questions. Good luck with him.

    Also as far as showing, I barrel race mine just as much as my other horses, 3-4 weekends per month all summer long, and I never had a problem with him. You just need to pay attention to his leg and make sure he is fit and inshape. Also you want to do alot of long trotting to get him to stretch his leg out.
    Last edited by diezel01; Aug. 5, 2009, 01:54 PM. Reason: edited to add about showing


    • Original Poster

      Thanks for the reply, Diezel. My vet seemed to be experience with this particular injury, and felt that his case was quite mild. He said rest was not necessary at this point, but light hacking like we're already doing to rehab the suspensory would be fine.

      I like the idea of getting a note from the vet explaining the situation. I was doing low level dressage and local shows (hunt seat) with this horse, so I'm not sure I will be able to do that again, but he LOVES trail class, so I was thinking maybe some trail trials, which seem to be growing in popularity in my area. Vet suggested team penning, (yeah, I think this horse would really like to chase cows! or anything else that would run away!) but then recanted because of the hock/stifle issues we've had in the past.

      I appreciate the suggestion of long-trotting. We have been keeping it slow due to the healing suspensory, but should be able to kick it up a notch in another couple of weeks. Also will be good for the stifles!

      I'm glad to hear your horse is doing so well with it. It gives me hope that my boy and I have many more years of happy riding ahead, even if we can't show anymore.


      • #4
        First I wonder are we talking real fibrotic myopathy, which cause is unknown and degenerative or just scar tissue from a muscle injury? If it is just scar tissue, the horse should heal and move on

        Fibrotic myopathy is a chronic, progressive, idiopathic, degenerative disorder affecting the semitendinosus, gracilis, quadriceps, infraspinatus, and supraspinatus muscles, primarily in dogs. The cause is unknown. Affected muscles are characterized by contracture and fibrosis. Normal tissues are replaced by dense collagenous connective tissue. Clinical signs include a nonpainful, mechanical lameness. Neurologic function is normal. Surgical release of affected tissues via tenotomy, myotenotomy, Z-plasty, or complete resection produces inconsistent results. Prognosis is guarded due to recurrence.

        And yes, you can definitely use boots behind for extra protection if necessary


        • Original Poster

          BTR, thanks for the reply. From my vet's diagnosis and what I've been able to research, I believe we are talking about real fibrotic myopathy, although perhaps what is seen in dogs is different from what is seen in horses. My exerpt from Merck Veterinary Manual :

          'This uncommon condition is seen chiefly in working Quarter Horses as a result of trauma to the semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and gracilis muscles. Usually, it is unilateral and involves a progressive fibrosis with local adhesions of the affected muscles, which eventually ossify. The gait is fairly characteristic; the forward phase of the stride is jerky, and the foot is jerked back a short distance before being placed on the ground.' (Yup, trauma was involved, and the description of the characteristic gait is right on. Took the vet about 30 seconds to diagnose based on movement, although he did take the time to palpate almost everything before hand and did a few flexions and watched him move for a while just to be sure)

          I have never used hoof boots behind - any suggestions on ones that either do or don't work especially well on hind feet? Do you have to purchase specifically for the hind foot, or can any one be used on any foot? My experience with hoof boots is limited to easy boots from the late 80's - I'm sure there are a bunch of options out there now, with many improvements.


          • #6
            Hmmm, keep in mind too that QH are prone to EPSM or PSSM. This may also play a factor when it comes to fibrotic myopathy.

            I have a friend who has used the Easycare Gloves very successfully on her QH hinds. They are easy to use and work very well.