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2-year old developing awkward gait

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  • Original Poster

    Sorry - have been away for awhile.

    To answer the questions, limiting his exercise (in the pasture and otherwise of course) will hopefully keep him from putting additional pressure on his spinal cord which happens (we know from the myelogram) when his neck is flexed and also a little bit while extended. We are hoping to keep from additional damage being done while he grows and the bone, muscles and ligaments get stronger.

    The other thing that round pen confinement is doing is limiting his calorie intake. He is a naturally cresty horse so I think that the less weight on the compromised sections of his neck, the better.

    Dune, I think the jury is out on whether or not he can heal from this. There just aren't a lot of studies being done on what happens with long term conservative management because, well, most people will put the horse down.

    While I understand that putting him down might be the best decision for some horse owners, I just cannot fathom doing that for my boy. I can tell by his eye and demeanor that he's not in pain physically. And mentally,yes, he's not in the pasture but he is turned out and can see and even interact with the other horses and he seems pretty okay with that too. He is not a danger to himself or other horses at this point in time. If his condition did deteriorate, I am willing to make the tough decision to put him down but as it stands - I see no harm in seeing what happens in the next 6 months or so. Deb Bennet, someone who has studied equine development extensively, in her "Ranger" article: http://www.equinestudies.org/ranger_..._2008_pdf1.pdf
    notes that he will continue to grow until probably 4-6 years of age. Maybe not in height, grant you, but I don't think that is what matters in this case.

    Let me just point out that I do not expect for Cary to ever be a normal riding horse. In fact, I doubt I will ever be able to ride him at all. I am okay with that. I know this too would not make a lot of sense for a lot of horse owners but I have come to terms with him always being just a companion animal and I am okay with that. After all the vet trips, early mornings and late nights spent next to him, we have the kind of bond between us that has been rare for me in 35 years of horse ownership. So he's worth keeping around!

    Okay, gotta go before I get teary eyed...


    • #22
      Continued jingles. He is so lucky to have you!
      McDowell Racing Stables

      Home Away From Home


      • #23
        Yes, sometimes our horses are precious to us in very different ways. He is lucky to have you, and you to have him. Best wishes.
        Sunny Days Hanoverians


        • #24
          All horses should be so lucky.
          And Vit E, up to 10,000ui a day.


          • #25
            God bless you.

            Jingles for your lovely boy
            The rider casts his heart over the fence,
            the horse jumps in pursuit of it.

            –Hans-Heinrich Isenbart


            • #26
              Good luck! I hope he shows progress soon!
              ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


              • #27
                In the same boat

                Originally posted by ndfayanne View Post
                Thanks for all the jingles (and hammers?? not familiar with that one! )

                Unfortunately, myleograms confirmed cervical vetebral instability at two levels. EPM ruled out. Very, very sad.

                Because 2 levels are involved, the vets at Purdue were not overly optimistic about the Bagby Basket surgery for my boy but I will continue to seek second opinions. Also researching whether or not chiro would help or if it is even possible since he has instability.

                The Purdue vets did agree that vitamin E was a great idea, 10,000 IUs a day. Elevate is on the way. ahf, any comments on the quality of this supplement? Of course I want to be sure I am getting something good for my money. All the vets are keen on it but it never hurts to ask around.

                So right now, my plan (and really my only hope) is to feed him chock full of vitamin E and as little carbs and fat as possible, exercise restrict him and hope and pray he grows out of it. He's > 1yr old so the consensus seems to be that isn't super likely but Welsh Cobs are noted to grow until 5 or 6 so maybe that's in my favor.

                The worst part is, his is *miserable* being stall-restricted. You'd need to have to met my boy to fully appreciate it. Full of spunk and personality (piss and vinegar is how one vet put it! ) so I feel like this fate is only slightly better than death.

                I have been considering my alternatives - happy life in the pasture albeit neurologic, paddock only but still separated from the horses or round-pen restricted but adjoining the other pastures (and thus leaving the possibility of neck-wrestling and further injury still open).

                I'd love other comments, suggestions and feedback. I just can't stand to see him live like this - he is so completely listless and depressed it breaks my heart every time I am at the barn or even think about it.
                I also have a yearling( TB x Appaloosa x Shire )diagnosed with wobblers so far I have be had him in for around 2 months, he is on a stict feed regime. I am also giving him Vitamin E in high dose quantity. Two months ago my farrier was unable to trim him he came last week and did his feet with no problems and stated how much more stable he felt. He still swings his hind legs at walk on a bend but is good infront. I am now letting roam the yard whilst I muck out and he is even running around. I am giving him a chance and he has shown improvement so providing you dont mind the hard work keep going. The only difference is mine is very happy,eats well and loves human contact, he isnt even bothered about other horses. I am looking for more info from others on thier feeding experiences and other maintainance suggestions for a youngster with wobblers and any success stories please.


                • #28
                  Lots of jingles for your yearling. Although you may eventually have to put him down, I would wait until you are sure you can't keep him comfortable or until he is a danger to you. It sounds like he is comfortable and happy, so you can take your time and see how he does.

                  Years ago, we were told by a respiratory specialist at the vet school, that our then 11 year old would be dead within 2 years of lung disease. We decided that if he was going to die soon, we were going to have a lot of fun before he died. I trail rode him. My daughter did dressage through 4th level with him. His lungs improved dramatically. Now, he is age 24, and is arthritic, but still happy.

                  Horses can surprise you. Sometimes, the healthy ones die unexpectedly and the chronically ill get better. I would wait until you see how things are going to turn out.

                  Good luck.


                  • #29
                    Talk to Dr. Reed at Rood and Riddle, he has been involved/knows about wobblers and basket surgeries. Wobblers is common (relatively) in racing TBs so the big KY clinics are more familiar with it. They may be able to give you better odds on sx correction and better able to prognosticate for you.

                    Good luck
                    Horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


                    • #30
                      A friend of mine was a breeder years ago. One of the colts at age 2 suddenly went wobbler. She took it to New Bolton where wobbles was confirmed and she was told to put it down. The colt belonged to a client and was quite large. My friend said "Thank you very much" and took him home. She locked him up and didn't give him grain. He did grow out of it and went on to be a show hunter. He also grew to be 17.2 hands. He is now 24, retired and still around. He has the shivers, but that did not affect his rideability. Newer research has indicated that starving a growing horse causes more problems. I had a growth plate issie with my WB mare at 6 months of age and consulted with Don Kapper of Progressive Nutrition. He advised me to put my filly on Rejuvenaide which is a super vitamin/mineral supplement. He also advised me what to feed her. My filly is now a mare and 5 years old. No residual from the growth plate issue. I still consult Don with any feed/weight/growth issues I have for all 3 of my horses. If you go to www.prognutrition.com you can access information on the products. You can also request a free consult with Don who also is a breeder. No, I don't work for PN. I'm just a happy customer. Hope some of this helps. If you can stand the agony of seeing your horse each day knowing you may have to put him down, and he is not in pain or danger IMHO I don't think a wait/see approach is a bad thing. And call Don. At least you will be covering all your bases. Remember too that most vets know very little about nutrition and feeding horses properly. Jingles
                      Last edited by Maude; Oct. 9, 2012, 09:35 AM.


                      • #31
                        OP how is it going with your wobbler horse? I just had my 2.5 yo arabian gelding diagnosed with wobblers also, and just like yours, he is affected in 2 places in his neck. Just like you, I am ok with him being just a pasture pet/companion as long as he is safe to be around.

                        My vet recommended the strict diet, 6500 IU of Vitamin E, I have a chiro/accupuncture booked for Wednesday this week, and learning about energy healing.

                        I have started my own thread you can see a video of him there, as well as my plan on what to do with him. I am very interested to know your progress and hope it all works out for the best for everybody


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by ndfayanne View Post
                          Update in case anyone is viewing the thread. I've had 3 different vets look at him now. Consensus seems to be Cervical Vetebral Malformation (CVM or wobbler's), however even tho we did a blood test we still cannot rule out EPM. Testing for EPM still has a long way to go but that's a story for a different time. I'm making plans to take my boy (Cary) to Purdue for radiographs first and possibly myleogram second.

                          Right now I'm doing my own research and wondering if there is a link with Vitamin E deficiency? Fresh forage has been extremely limited so it seems likely that he is very low right now. BTW, I have a serum sample that I can send in for definitive testing so that is on my list of things to do.

                          Any sage comments out there regarding Vitamin E supplementation? I am considering calling a formulating pharmacy to talk to them about cost. The good stuff at Smart-Pak runs about $2 per day!
                          The easiest way to enure adequate Vitamin E is to add human vitamin E capsules.....vitamin E is fragile and does not last long in powder form.......I use 400IU - 3 to 4 capsules a day.



                          • #33

                            I use Vit.E also to supplement my horses. I have found the best price at Costco. NatureMade All Natural Vit.E is $14.95 when not on sale and $10.95/bottle when it is. I use 10 pills/day which is a dose of 4000ICU/day. We just throw them in with the feed and they gobble them right up. Be sure you only get the D-form and not the DL-form. The DL-form is man made and not well utilized so you are throwing your money away.

                            At $14.95/bottle that costs me $14.95/month. Pretty cheap for the all natural form and much less expensive than any equine products. You can also get it in an oil form at some of the larger pharmacies in with the supplements but it is more expensive, still less than equine products.


                            • #34
                              Good luck to all. One of my friends had a WB she raised from a foal who grew big with a big neck and had training problems. He was diagnosed first with wobblers, and then with arthritic neck, on the second opinion. She ended up placing him with a different trainer and he has a productive life under saddle.


                              • #35
                                I have a wobbler. I bought him about 15 years ago when he was a yearling. Brought him home and over the summer he developed an awkward gait, dragging his hind toes. Thought he was being lazy at first. Then it slowly got worse. Vet said he would out grow it, said to let him be a horse and he would be fine. 15 years later he is still a wobbler. Wish we would have had the knowledge back then that we do now. He is a 16.1H full paint gelding. He is a little tall compared to most stock paints. He is extremely hard to trim his feet. Sometimes his rear end gets a little ahead of himself and he has been known to tumble. Otherwise not in pain and just a pasture puff. Over the years he has learned to handle this awkward gait and doesn't tumble anymore. Hope you have good luck with your horse. Treatment and knowledge is available now that was not back then, especially with the help of the internet and Coth I trusted my local vet and didn't know any better. Now I can come online to Coth and read 50 stories about the same issue and all the treatment that is available and how to proceed .
                                Derby Lyn Farms Website

                                Derby Lyn Farms on Facebook!


                                • #36
                                  How horses break our hearts...

                                  So sorry about your horse! Our first foal broke his leg out in a flat grass pasture with his mother. He had 3 surgeries then had to be put down. We have had a number of young horses who needed prolonged stall rest.
                                  *We had a horse here who belonged to a friend who was an enormous yearling warmblood and developed severe OCD lesions. He was predicted to never be sound. After 2 surgeries and over a YEAR stall rest, he is 100% fine with resolution of his lesions and is coming 3 now.
                                  *We had one of my FAVORITE yearlings out of my beloved CCI** OTTB mare get kicked in pasture and break his hip. The break "slipped," and we were advised to put him down. That was over a year ago, and he is coming 3 this year. He is perfectly comfortable, and a favorite. He has gotten gradually better although I do not think he will likely ever be rideable.
                                  *One of our nicest fillies was stepped on by her mother and injured her right hind. She had surgery which did not fix the problem, but she has had excellent care by our phenomenal vet and farrier and is sound and comfortable. She won't hold up to competition as she still has some deformity of that leg, but she is lovely and her breeding is lovely so will likely breed her. Of course, she has amazing gaits, so every time I see her trotting in the pasture, I want to cry....

                                  I have been considering my alternatives - happy life in the pasture albeit neurologic, paddock only but still separated from the horses or round-pen restricted but adjoining the other pastures (and thus leaving the possibility of neck-wrestling and further injury still open).
                                  Horse number one lived in a stall. We rotated horses (usually our horses live out) so he always had another horse he could see across the aisle. He hated it, but we all survived somehow. For our second horse, we ended up building a stall size paddock next to the other horses. He spun donuts all day inside the stall so we figured it was less stress for his hip to be outside in a confined area where he was less agitated. The third filly had to spend a couple months confined. We used a stall and a stall sized paddock and put she and her Mom in and out. I think it really depends on the individual horse. Some horses tolerate stall rest pretty well with a jolly ball and some toys, and some go bonkers.

                                  Let me just point out that I do not expect for Cary to ever be a normal riding horse. In fact, I doubt I will ever be able to ride him at all. I am okay with that. I know this too would not make a lot of sense for a lot of horse owners but I have come to terms with him always being just a companion animal and I am okay with that.
                                  I can 100% understand why people put horses down if they will not be useful in their program because, god knows, they are so damn expensive. We, however, like you, just cannot do it unless the horse is miserable or in pain. Fortunately, the injured ones always seem to find someplace they are useful in the program, as babysitters for the youngsters if nothing else. My old NZ TB who developed something neurological as a fairly young horse when he was going prelim, has turned out to be a fabulous babysitter, and he has always been a big pet! So you never know.....


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Originally posted by TimelessRanch View Post
                                    OP how is it going with your wobbler horse? I just had my 2.5 yo arabian gelding diagnosed with wobblers also, and just like yours, he is affected in 2 places in his neck. Just like you, I am ok with him being just a pasture pet/companion as long as he is safe to be around.

                                    My vet recommended the strict diet, 6500 IU of Vitamin E, I have a chiro/accupuncture booked for Wednesday this week, and learning about energy healing.

                                    I have started my own thread you can see a video of him there, as well as my plan on what to do with him. I am very interested to know your progress and hope it all works out for the best for everybody

                                    Hi Timeless Ranch - so sorry to take so long to respond. My boy is still holding his own. I see slight improvements and am hopeful that he'll get better slowly over time. My local vet concurs. He is still on paddock turnout 3 days a week only but once we get a nice blanket of snow I am going to try pasture turnout 1 day a week and see how he fares.

                                    Right now he is on 10,000 IUs of vitamin E, DiCalcium Phosphate (to balance his Ca/P ratio) and "normal" doses of MSM and selenium in addition to 1 lb of Enrich 32 (from Purina, balancer pellet) and 9-12 lbs grass and 3-4 lbs alfalfa hay per day (he's about 900 lbs right now).
                                    He is also getting equine massage once every 2 weeks and he is responding to that well. I had talked with Ken McDavitt regarding chiro and he didn't recommend due to the instability so unless you have ruled out dynamic instability with your Arabian, I would proceed with caution. I know firsthand that myleograms are wicked expensive so if you haven't had that done/don't plan on it, at the very least, watch his symptoms closely following treatment and if you see any worsening at all, stop with the chiro.
                                    I also recommend signing up for Kentucky Equine Research's newsletter. They have lots of information available for wobblers.

                                    Feel free to PM me and I am happy to help any way I can!


                                    • #38
                                      It's been 2 months so just wanted to bump for an update


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Alto, I am terrible about checking this thread, sorry it's been a year since your bump!

                                        Cary has continued to do well. About a month or so after my last post, while he was still on limited turn out, he seemed to take a real decline in mental health and his coat looked dull, as did his eye. I thought maybe it was time to say good-bye to him. I didn't want to increase his turnout because he still seemed unstable to me. But as a last-ditch effort, over the course of a couple of weeks we increased him to regular turn out. The effect was remarkable. His coat brightened, his eye brightened and his gait slowly improved. He is now about a neuro grade 1. Sometimes, I see no ill-effects of the disease. Mostly it manifests itself as sort of an ugly quality to the gaits - especially the canter. But if he is carrying himself well in a trot with a round outline, I really cannot tell this was the horse I considered putting down a year ago.
                                        Cary turned 3 in August, and with all of his difficulties, I am planning on letting him rest until summer. Then, I hope that with lots of core-strengthening and more equine massage, I can have myself a nice cart pony who is capable of some light pleasure riding. He won't be the dressage star that I had hoped for when I brought him home but few are! Life isn't what you expect it to be sometimes but that's not always a bad thing.


                                        • #40
                                          Thank you so much for the update. I hadn't read the thread before now but what an inspiration! He's such a lucky boy to be with you.