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pssm horse VERY SEVERE grade 1 ?

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  • pssm horse VERY SEVERE grade 1 ?

    I have a Missouri Foxtrotter diagnosed with pssm.This is the first time I have even heared of this,so please bear with me.According to 4 vets that have seen him and are helping,he is quite possibly a grade 1 which is the most severe.They all have told me not to waste my $$ on muscle biopsy-- on my budget-- because the treatment is the same,even when I had a very good vet out to do the test.Go figure.If he is a grade 1 he will end up with a sort of chronic wasting disease regardless of a special diet,but if he is a grade 2 or 3 his prognosis is good with proper management.Which is why I wanted a biopsy.Does that sound right to you with experience?

    They are all in agreeance as to what I should and should not feed him due to the severity of his condition.They say,in our area grass hay has less sugar than alfalfa.My horse can not have ANY alfalfa except a small amount in supplements.No glucosamine or msm because they are complex sugars.Beet pulp and rice bran have too much sugar for HIM.He gets unlimited grass hay-mostly timothy. And he gets 2 cups timothy pellets soaked with 2 cups of water and 1 cup of cocasoya oil.It helps to use hot water to get the pellets to soak up.There is no mess with the oil this way and my horse doesnt waste any at all.It turns out light and fluffy.Its a nice base.Now what?

    Also,the vets say vitamin b1 is especially important.They want him on mega doses of b-complex.I found a sugar and filler free product made by Brookfield called COMMAND SERENE.
    They also want him on DMG.And CHROMIUM which is a special kind of yeast I guess.I have him on TYE-BYE by ANIMED.My vets all love this supplement because it has selenium,E, C,DMG,CHROMIUM,magnesium etc.It does have a little corn starch--the last ingredient listed.Possibly too much for my particular horse,and the vets say if he cant handle that little amount I wont be able to save him.He has been on this for 3 months.Little improvement.

    This week I will try adding electrolytes--sugar and filler free---only because our water tests show the CHLORIDE to be 4 times whats safe to drink and the electrolytes may help balance it out.

    Here are the issues I am having with his diet----He is very allergic to soy,the protein not the oil,and so sensitive to sugars and starches that I had to go with timothy hay pellets.Cant find the right feed thats not soy based.Even 1 cup of safe choice twice a day had him so severly tied up he could hardly walk.Safe choice has a little molasses.I have tried many management and housing options for him.Even boarding where the water is better.So far,what I am doing now works the best,but he isnt much better.

    Dry lot 24/7 with waterproof blanket and neck covor---since his neck muscles tie up bad without it in the winter,diet,NO FRESH GRASS EVER>NOT EVEN A BITE!I have been working on this since APRIL.Does it really take that long to figure out if you can save your best friend????The vets say some horses have to go through a hump period where they get worse again and they dont know why.A lot of those horses perk right up and are okay after the hump,but my horse just isnt improving much.Any suggestions???We live in MICHIGAN without an indoor arena,so excercise options are limited.And the vets want me to pretty much try the hay/oil thing and slowly add supplements one at a time,so I know if he has a reaction to something.Any ideas on all around supplements or mix and match supplememnts to get a balanced diet,no soy meal,beet pulp,rice bran,or sugar/starch?Or as little as possible.I guess the supplements can be alfalfa based,I just cant use that as a major part of the diet.The fewer supplements I have to buy to get good balance,the better for my budget!

    please forgive me for such a long post.I promise dont usually do that.Just so frustrated and asking for help.Cant get back to a computer til NEW YEAR so I wanted to give his whole life story in one shot to avoid the need for questions back and forth,due to my lack of computer.I will check once a month.Not giving up!!!Thank you for putting up with me!
    Last edited by sedaistable; Dec. 24, 2009, 11:13 PM.

  • #2
    I don't have a lot to add to as I have not dealt with this particular issue, however, have you done a search of the forums? if you can find some of the old threads about PSSM, I would bet that you will find a huge amount of information. I am so sorry that you and your horse are struggling with this and i wish you both the best of luck getting things under control.


    • Original Poster

      Thank you!

      I have spent about 8 hrs straight pouring over old forums.
      It has been really helpful.I think I have my grading numbers backwards though.My ever so patient vets say he has the most severe form.What is that then?A 2 or 3?Thank god these vets are working together.2 of them dont have much hope.2 of them do.Has anyone dealt with this severe of a case?

      Unfortunately the feeds most of you are describing still have too much sugar for my boy.The vets all say sometimes with certain individuals it isnt possible to stabilize their condition. I have to give it til spring for myself if nothing else.


      • #4
        There is a DNA test for this available (costs about $65). I'm surprised one of your vets hasn't suggested it.


        Feeding untested hay is playing Russian roulette for a horse like this. Send samples to EquiAnalytical:


        Click on "Common Feed Profiles" then scroll to the bottom of the page and click "OK" to see the results of many years of hay, feed and forage testing. Sugar and starch are your biggest concerns. It would be a rare alfalfa sample that tests higher in sugars than timothy.

        There are many low sugar/starch commercial feeds available today. Safe Choice isn't one of them. I don't know what this product is "safe" for but it isn't for horses with PSSM. Blue Seal has one (Carb Guard) and Triple Crown has several. I like their Safe Starch Forage which is a chopped hay that has been tested and has added oil. Every horse I've ever come across loves it.


        May I also suggest your vets sound less than knowledgable about appropriate feeds? While I'm not a fan of beet pulp myself, it is usually low in sugar, if you get the type that has no molasses. It should also be fed after soaking and rinsed thoroughly.

        What type of water has 4X the safe amount of chlorine? Can't be well water and I don't imagine a municipal supply would be that high. If this is really true, and not barn gossip, you should move the horse.

        Good luck with him and by all means get your hay tested.


        • #5
          I am sorry for the pain you're going through. BTDT with metabolic horses, but no experience with PSSM. I would probably say goodbye to this horse. Even if you were lucky enough to get the condition under control, one little thing would send him back into a spiral of problems. We each have our own opinions, but I believe a horse should be able to live as a horse. This business of dry lots, muzzles, crappy soaked hay, etc. etc. just to keep them alive, doesn't make sense to me.


          • #6
            I'd encourage you to get in touch with either Dr. Beth Valentine at Oregon State, or Dr. Stephanie Valberg at Minnesota, and at least disucss your case with them. I'm a little surprised that a Foxtrotter would have such a severe case of PSM, and wonder if you don't have some other issue going on as well. Getting the biopsy done could shed some light on this, as well.

            If you are on a budget and your horse isn't a fussy eater, there's no reason to spend the extra $$ on Cocosoya oil. Plain vegetable oil (soy, corn, or canola) will provide the fat he needs (and soy oil will, of course, not have the proteins that your horse reacts to), and will be less expensive. I prefer canola because it does not solidify as much at lower temps, but in MI it may be cold enough that it will still get thick. At my grocery store, the store brand canola is the same price as soy oil.

            Good luck. If your horse does turn out to be a difficult case, it may be very discouraging to try to maintain him and it may be that letting him go is the best thing all around. Mine never made it all the way back and he wasn't a terribly severe case, but he had been fighting in undiagnosed for a long time. He also developed complicating conditions, and I ultimately let him go.
            "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

            Spay and neuter. Please.


            • #7
              I have not heard of that type of grading......my guy has PSSM and has a muscle biopsy done.........and the grading was mild, moderate and severe.........mild is up to about 12% muscle involvement and moderate is up to about 26% and severe is up to 40%........my guy's range was 10 to 20% .......he fell into moderate......anything above 15% of muscle involvement usually means they are not rideable.

              There is no way of telling how bad the muscle involvement is with out doing a biopsy so I don't understand how your vet can say grade one with out a biopsy.



              • #8
                Ditto the shout out to Drs. Valentine & Valberg Maybe have your vet contact them directly since this is such a severe case.

                As far as feed goes, I'd have a good talk to the folks at EquiPride

                I have a severe EPSM and metabolic Percheron. EquiPride is the only soy-free feed that is also very low in NSCs and virtually sugar free. You feed very little (cups, not pounds) so it lasts.
                <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                • Original Poster

                  Wow,thanks you guys!

                  The water has CHLORIDE like what they put on the road to melt ice.I think because its is very low land and maybe we are getting runoff from the road.Its such a beautiful swamp!!!Electrolites help counter act that.Chloride is in fact an electrolyte,but too much of that throws the other electrolytes out of whack.

                  I ended up moving my horse back there because the supplements are costing so much,and my friend that owns this farm isnt charging me board.We figured this is where my horse grew up so my friend offered to bury him there "at his home" if need be.The boarding stable was costing a mint and unable to provide the dry lot thing.

                  I guess in order to really grade this horses issue the biopsy would have to be done.My favorite vet didnt want to I guess because its hard to collect samples and get them where they have to go in good shape.He said we may have to do it 2 or 3 times at $250 to $300 each time.I guess the sample has to go a long way away and proper refridgeration is an issue.I asked and pushed the issue of biopsy tooThe vet knew I had the cash in hand and wanted it done.They all said there is a DNA test being worked on but not available yet.Maybe just in our area or the vets here hadnt heared of it yet.Very strange how some vets grade it with letters,and others dont.Ive seen other posts where their vets used a letter system.I think the mild,moderate severe system makes a lot more sense the way you explained it.

                  These poor vets from small towns here are just learning about this pssm thing and dont know too much about it.People just dump horses at the sale if they cant work and eventually they get to CANADA.So it isnt something 3 out of 4 vets has had an opportunity to work through.My 1 vet always says give him another month whenever I call.Which is every 3 or 4 weeks.Yes,Im impatient and this vet knows how much I love this horse,so he wants me to hang in there a while.Maybe he wants to see how it unfolds???

                  Budget and relocating to a new town and trying to find suitable boarding is a reality though.I am moving 45 minutes away from my free in exchange for chores boarding opportunity.

                  I appreciate your help.I guess I have to face reality though and not be one of these moms that hangs on forever if it wont be a NORMAL situation ever anyway.I will follow up on bloodwork again etc.BUT....

                  I think that it may be time to have my horses favorite vet help my horse to greener pastures though.I dont think I can stand this roller coaster,worry ride too much longer and Im not getting any younger.The 1 vet with experience with this said to"" let him go.Its the best thing for him,he will never be an athlete,I will always have to worry,any little thing will set off an episode and it takes days to weeks to recovor,and thats no kind of life."

                  And I replied:
                  Besides,how am I supposed to find a horsie husband if I dont get out on the trails at the horsie campground?He aint gonna come knockin on my door and how long can I stand on the trail with a horse that cant go waitin for that cowboy to rescue me/us?That could take days!!!!
                  Last edited by sedaistable; Dec. 30, 2009, 11:05 PM.


                  • Original Poster

                    Oh yeah,I had the water tested a couple years ago when weird symptoms cropped up with 2 horses.They are 1/2 brothers.At first we thought it was electrolyte imbalance.It just went on from there.

                    It is well water,but as stated its swampy low land and road run off goes down a stream made by the county road comission,right thru the middle of the pasture.Something to think about when farm shopping.My first vet says too much chloride leaches the calcium out of horses bones.I had never heared of that before.Not sure how to take that.

                    I am not sure it is feasable to test my hay,however important,because I have to buy it every month now.Its always a different supplier(sigh).Not much I can do about that,and once its bought thats what I have to feed reguardless.I wanted to put the whole winter supply in the barn and would have if I didnt have to deal with trying different housing options for my horse this year.Being on a monthly budget with a hay shortage and needing to buy hay at auction kind of is a challenge.How long will it take to get the tests back,and how many times a week will I have to load those 30 bales back in my truck and take it back to auction only to do it all over again?There just arent any hay suppliers with hay in their barns for sale all winter.If theres hay,its for the wives horses!Im afraid I just cant do what I need to for my poor baby horse.

                    Well for now,I have 3 gallons of cocosoya.He loves it.Hates soy or corn oil.He will think he is getting happy treats for the next 3 weeks anyway!!


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ChocoMare View Post
                      Ditto the shout out to Drs. Valentine & Valberg Maybe have your vet contact them directly since this is such a severe case.

                      As far as feed goes, I'd have a good talk to the folks at EquiPride

                      I have a severe EPSM and metabolic Percheron. EquiPride is the only soy-free feed that is also very low in NSCs and virtually sugar free. You feed very little (cups, not pounds) so it lasts.
                      I second the consult with Dr. Valberg--she was very helpful in getting my RER gelding's tying up under control. Alfalfa was also a particular trigger for him, so I've avoided feeding him any ever since I noticed that pattern.

                      You don't mention what your experience with the tying up has been or what efforts you've gone to in order to control it, but careful monitoring of exercise together with a modified diet can normally result in a workable balance being acheived.

                      To see how I managed my chronic RER horse, read my COMH blog:


                      As previous posters have pointed out, beet pulp should not pose a problem for you, as long as it contains no molasses. Contrary to what you might think, beet pulp is NOT sweet; on the contrary, it's had the sugars leeched out of it. Adding molasses puts the sugar back in (BP w/M is mainly used for cattle, I think).

                      Feel free to click the links below or PM me if you like, to learn to more about this issue.
                      Inner Bay Equestrian


                      • #12
                        Ditto on the Alfalfa trigger. Any alfalfa will have my Percheron foot sore in 12 hours.
                        <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                        • #13
                          just as an aside, I'm curious about the use of grade 1 as "most severe". The only regularly used scale of lameness I've seen used is graded 1-5, with 1 being minimal/difficult to observe and 5 being unable to carry weight on the affected limb?

                          Obviously that is just semantics and he needs treatment, but now I'm curious about a scale that goes the other way...
                          Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


                          • #14
                            You got a lot of good info here. I will reiterate what rcloisonne stated there is a DNA test. However, the muscle biopsy is used for grading of severity. I will encourage you to please visit this site and make contact with Dr. Valberg she is the expert. You can send the hair samples yourself and Dr. Valberg can tell you what is needed there. Your cost $65.00


                            Don't throw in the towel with out changing diet and exercise regiments and giving it time. These you will find are key.



                            • #15
                              You might want to read this thread too!