Vet Update

Yesterday my vet got clear of emergencies and made it out to the barn to do herd vaccines and a lameness exam on Desire. By the way, let me just comment on my tough country vet! She broke her tail bone giving birth 2 weeks ago and is already back at work driving more than a hundred miles a day seeing large animal clients in 90+ degree heat. Phew! Poor gal was in major pain but takes her job seriously; I so appreciate having a good, conscientious vet that will come out to us in the hills!

First of all, the lameness test. Initially my vet mentioned that owners requesting EPM tests were generally off base, and I was open minded to that, perfectly happy for her to tell me I was wrong and have some other diagnosis for me. Desire and Blaze are my first horses getting up into their teens–both 17 this summer–and this hip/hock/hind end/arthritis/? etc is all new to me. I do rather a lot of reading and asking and obsessing, however, and for some reason EPM had twanged in my head, out of the blue, on a trail ride when she took a funny step downhill, late last year.

After a flexion test–maybe not the perfect term? But in this case, holding up the hind leg for 2 minutes and then trotting off, on each side– my vet definitely saw Desire trotting off “weird” on her left hind, as well as short striding on that left hind when she went by. “Weird” is totally scientific, I know. But honestly, it’s the word I’ve been using and it’s what the vet said too. Desire doesn’t actively limp, head bob, or otherwise give any indication anything is wrong, but if you *stare* at her hips and hind legs, there is something there. Matter of fact my vet commented that Desire’s jaunty sky high tail set made it hard to watch her hips when she trotted, and the mare seemed entirely unaware her body wasn’t performing as it should. She said that Desire moves as if she had some sort of ligament issue–I admit, I missed the scientific term she threw out–in her left hind, but everything felt clean and normal in her hind legs. Also it wasn’t consistent enough to say OH, okay, she’s lame Here, and it’s From This. The vet also could see and feel that her right hip looked higher, (not as high as it had been before chiro last week!) and in fact pointed out that there was a slight sunken area of deteriorated muscle in Desire’s left flank. I couldn’t see it myself but did feel the rounded soft muscle on the right flank versus the slight sink on the left. Muscle deterioration in the hind end is one of the red flags of EPM and with the combination of the weird steps, the balance issues, and that sunken muscle, the vet concluded an EPM test was a pretty darn good idea. She drew blood, vaccinated Desire, Blaze, and mini Napoleon-remarking on how polite and shiny they all were–and went on her way.

Lab results in 5 days which probably means I won’t hear anything until next Monday. Let the thumb twiddling begin…

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9 thoughts on “Vet Update

  1. My friend Wally's was horse diagnosed with EPM many years ago. Rebby never limped, never had any pain. He merely began waddling awkwardly at the trot, had some obvious incoordination and tripped a lot. He was nine years old. The treatment (at the time) didn't change him much, but he remained stable and was a healthy, happy pasture pet until he died at twenty-five. He was ridable, and did get ridden very occasionally, but we weren't comfortable doing too much with him. But I believe they have much more effective treatment for EPM now. Holding good thoughts for Desire.

  2. Weird. Glad you're getting the test, did the vet suggest not riding/keep riding. etc? Could it just be from years of carrying herself that strange way?

    I used to ride a mare that had broken her shoulder as a baby. She was never straight, but with enough work she was strong and not lame, but did look a bit wonky as she moved.

    Oh, and your vet sounds pretty awesome and tough, wow!

  3. You pretty much described Desire right there

    ” began waddling awkwardly at the trot, had some obvious incoordination and tripped a lot. “

    If Desire had it, we treated it, and she didn't improve in her current movement I would probably have to at least semi retire her too. I have to constantly truly ride her to guide us safely down the trails because she bombs but her balance and coordination isn't quite right..

  4. My horse, Ashke had some muscle deterioration in his right hip and short strided on the RH. His was due to damage to his right hamstring from either falling or being dropped on his side at some point before I got him. With some chiro and accupuncture, plus PT, the hamstring has finally healed (although we weren't sure it would.) There are other reasons for the symptoms, so don't stress too much.

  5. There are possums in every single place she has lived, to my knowledge. There are certainly other reasons for the symptoms and even if she has it it should be very mild and treatable, so I'm relatively calm. Relatively! 😉

  6. There are possums in every single place she has lived, to my knowledge. There are certainly other reasons for the symptoms and even if she has it it should be very mild and treatable, so I'm relatively calm. Relatively! 😉

  7. My dad's first horse got EPM, maybe a year after we got her. We noticed she started getting really stumbly and trippy (not normal for her, a very sure-footed fox trotter), she began loosing some muscle tone, was weak in the hind end, and her response to exercise didn't match her conditioning levels: she was really fit, but a few mile ride would start to tire her out.

    We did the month-long Marquis treatment, which had come out just shortly before her diagnosis. You could see drastic improvement just in that month, then we spent about 5-6 months bringing her back up to fitness levels and she went on to become my dad's NATRC horse with close to 300 competition miles with never any more problems.

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