Spotting Lameness: The Game Plan
— Read on horsenetwork.com/2018/10/spotting-lameness-game-plan/
Spotting Lameness: The Game Plan
Spotting Lameness: The Game Plan
— Read on horsenetwork.com/2018/10/spotting-lameness-game-plan/
What should you do (or not do) if your horse shows signs of colic? And how do you prevent colic in the first place? Find out from our veterinary experts.
— Read on thehorse.com/features/dealing-with-equine-colic/
For the past 6 weeks, my horse has been receiving Ozonetherapy to aid in his chronic back leg related issues- dermatitis (“scratches”), previous DDFT tendon laceration, a history of Lymphingitis, and the residual scar tissue from his DDFT injury. Due to his age (27), he lacks proper circulation in his hind end which does not help him fight his pastern dermatitis.
According to the American Academy of Ozonetherapy, Ozonetherapy is described as;
“Ozonotherapy is the use of medical grade ozone, a highly reactive form of pure oxygen, to create a curative response in the body. The body has the potential to renew and regenerate itself. When it becomes sick it is because this potential has been blocked. The reactive properties of ozone stimulate the body to remove many of these impediments thus allowing the body to do what it does best – heal itself.”
“Ozonotherapy has been and continues to be used in European clinics and hospitals for over fifty years. It was even used here in the United States in a limited capacity in the early part of the 20th century. There are professional medical ozonotherapy societies in over ten countries worldwide. Recently, the International Scientific Committee on Ozonotherapy (ISCO3) was formed to help establish standardized scientific principles for ozonotherapy. The president of the AAO, Frank Shallenberger, MD is a founding member of the ISCO3.”
“Ozonotherapy was introduced into the United States in the early 80’s, and has been increasingly used in recent decades. It has been found useful in various diseases;
After doing research and speaking to one of my good friends, we determined that Chance’s flare up of Lymphingitis, after almost 3 years of not a single issue, could possibly be caused by his immune system’s response to Ozonetherapy. Let me explain.
Chance suffers from persistent Pastern dermatitis (“scratches”) since I purchased him in 2000. I have tried everything- antibiotics, every cream and ointment and spray for scratches, diaper rash ointment, iodine and vaseline mix, Swat, laser treatments, scrubs and shampoos, shaving the area, wrapping the area, light therapy…you name it, I have tried it. So, when we began Ozonetherapy to help break down the left over scar tissue from his old DDFT injury, I noticed that his scratches were drying up and falling off. We continued administering the Ozonetherapy once a week for about 6 weeks. The improvement was dramatic!
However, one day Chance woke up with severe swelling in his left hind leg and obviously, he had difficulty walking. He received Prevacox and was stall bound for 24 hours. The vet was called and she arranged to come out the following day. The next morning, Chance’s left leg was still huge and he was having trouble putting weight on it. I did the typical leg treatments- icing, wrapping. The swelling remained. I tried to get him out of his stall to cold hose his leg and give him a bath but he would not budge. He was sweaty and breathing heavily and intermittently shivering. So, I gave him an alcohol and water sponge bath and continued to ice his back legs. I sat with him for 4 hours waiting for the vet to arrive. He had a fever and wasn’t interested in eating and his gut sounds were not as audible. He was drinking, going to the bathroom, and engaging with me. I debated giving him Banamine but did not want it to mask anything when the vet did arrive.
The vet arrived, gave him a shot of Banamine and an antihistamine and confirmed that Chance had a fever of 102 degrees and had Lymphingitis. There was no visible abrasion, puncture, or lump… I asked the vet to do x-rays to ensure that he did not have a break in his leg. The x-rays confirmed that there was no break. The vet suggested a regiment of antibiotics, steroids (I really am against using steroids due to the short-term and long-term side effects but in this case, I would try anything to make sure he was comfortable) , prevacox, and a antacid to protect Chance from stomach related issues from the medications. It was also advised to continue to cold hose or ice and keep his legs wrapped and Chance stall bound.
The following day, Chance’s legs were still swollen but his fever had broken. The vet called to say that the CBC had come back and that his WBC was about 14,00o. She suggested that we stop the steroids and do the antibiotic 2x a day and add in Banamine. I asked her if she could order Baytril (a strong antibiotic that Chance has responded well to in the past) just in case. And that is what we did.
Being as Chance had such a strong reaction to whatever it was, I did some thinking, discussing, and researching…first and foremost, why did Chance have such an extreme flare up of Lymphingitis when he was the healthiest he has ever been? And especially since he had not had a flare up in 3+ years…plus, his scratches were getting better not worse. The Ozonetherapy boosted his immune system and should provide him with a stronger defense against bacteria, virus’, etc. So why exactly was he having a flare up? And that is when it hit me!
In the past when Chance began his regiment of Transfer Factor (an all natural immune booster), he broke out in hives. The vet had come out and she felt it was due to the Transfer Factor causing his immune system to become “too strong” and so it began fighting without there being anything to fight, thus the hives. My theory- Chance started the Ozonetherapy and his body began to fight off the scratches by boosting his immune system. As the treatments continued, his immune system began to attack the scratches tenfold. This resulted in his Lymphatic system to respond, his WBC to increase, and his body temperature to spike. Makes sense…but what can I do to ensure this is not going to happen again?
My friend suggested attacking the antibiotic resistant bacteria by out smarting them…okay, that seems simple enough…we researched the optimal enviroments for the 3 types of bacteria present where Chance’s scratches are (shown in the results of a past skin scape test). The bacteria – E. Coli, pseudomonas aeruginosa and providencia Rettgeri. The literature stated that PA was commonly found in individuals with diabetes…diabetes…SUGAR! How much sugar was in Chance’s feed? I looked and Nutrina Safe Choice Senior feed is low in sugar…so that is not it. What else can we find out? The optimal temperature for all three bacteria is around 37 degrees celsius (or 98.6 degrees fahrenheit), with a pH of 7.0, and a wet environment. Okay, so, a pH of 7.0 is a neutral. Which means if the external enviroment (the hind legs)pH is thrown off, either to an acidic or alkaline pH, the bacteria will not have the optimal enviroment to continue growing and multiplying. How can I change the pH?
Vinegar! An antimicrobial and a 5% acetic acid! And…vinegar is shown to help kill mycobacteria such as drug-resistant tuberculosis and an effective way to clean produce; it is considered the fastest, safest, and more effective than the use of antibacterial soap. Legend even says that in France during the Black Plague, four thieves were able to rob the homes of those sick with the plague and not become infected. They were said to have purchased a potion made of garlic soaked in vinegar which protected them. Variants of the recipe, now called “Four Thieves Vinegar” has continued to be passed down and used for hundreds of years (Hunter, R., 1894).
I went to the store, purchased distilled vinegar and a spray bottle and headed to the farm. I cleaned his scratches and sprayed the infected areas with vinegar. I am excited to see whether our hypothesis is correct or not…I will keep you posted!
References & Information
Your horse comes in from being outside and is barely able to move. His legs are swollen, he has a fever, is sensitive to the touch, and has a loss of appetite. He has chills- intermittently shaking. He wont touch his hay, his eyes are dull, and he looks depressed and tired. You call the vet and they run hundreds of dollars worth of tests- CBC, x-ray his legs to ensure there is no fracture; they diagnose him with Lymphingitis. You begin a course of antibiotics. You cold hose. You give him Banamine. Your wrap his legs while he is on stall rest. A week later, the swelling has subsided, his fever has dissipated, and his appetite is back.
You get a text saying that your horse “ran away” when he had been let out earlier that day. But when you get to the barn, you notice when he turns he looks like his hind end is falling out from under him..remember when you were little and someone would kick into the back of your knees and your legs would buckle? That is what it looks like. So you watch him. You are holding your breath, hoping he is just weak from stall rest. You decide, based on the vet’s recommendation, to let him stay outside for the evening. You take extra measures- leaving his stall open, with the light on, wrapping his legs, etc- and go home. Every time your mind goes to “what if..”, you reassure yourself that your horse is going to be okay and that you’re following the vet’s advice and after all, your horse had been running around earlier that day.
The next morning your horse comes inside and it takes him an hour to walk from the paddock to his stall. All four legs are swollen. He has a fever (101.5). He is covered in sweat. He won’t touch his food. He has scrapes all over his body and looks like he fell. You call the vet- again- and they come out to look at him. They note his back sensitivity, his fever, the swelling at his joints (especially the front). They note that his Lymphingitis seems to have come back. The vet draws blood to check for Lyme. They start him on SMZs and Prevacox. You once again wrap his legs, ice his joints, give him a sponge bath with alcohol and cool water to bring down his fever. You brush him, change his water, put extra fans directed at his stall. You put down extra shavings. And you watch him.
A few days go by and you get a call saying that your horse has tested positive for Lyme…and while your heart sinks, you are also relieved that there is an explanation for your horse’s recent symptoms. You plan to begin antibiotics and pretty much not breathe for the next 30+ days while your horse is pumped with antibiotics. You pray that he doesn’t colic. You pray that you have caught Lymes in time. You pray that the damage is reversible. You research everything you can on the disease. And you sit and wait….
Below are resources on Lyme Disease in horses- treatments, symptoms, the course of the disease, and the prognosis.
Today Chance had swelling of his back right fetlock. He had a fever around 104 and didn’t eat his feed. His eyes were dull and he was lethargic. He wasn’t limping but was walking slower than normal (he usually runs to the paddock or back to the barn). I decided, due to the Lymphingitis flare up on his back right leg, I would give him a shot of 5 mls (or 5 cc) of Banamine and wrap his leg. Once the medication set in, I would bring him in to give him a bath (it was 80 degrees today). So, that is what I did. By the time he was back at the barn he was covered in sweat. I cold hosed him and drenched the wrap in cool water and let him roam around the barn.
Thankfully, the vet was able to meet me at her veterinary practice so that I could pick up Baytril and more Banamine. Since Chance just had Lyme Disease (and had finished his medication less than a week ago), we are not 100% if this is a Lyme reaction or something else. The plan is to administer 25 cc of Baytril either orally, in his feed, or via IV for 6 days and Banamine 10 mls (or a 1000 lbs) twice a day for 3 days. The vet suggested that I do 5 cc of Banamine if his fever remains between 101-103 degrees and 10 cc if his fever is 103 degrees or above. During this time I will begin Prevacox- one 1/4 of a tablet once a day. After 3 days, I will discontinue the Banamine and continue the Prevacox. If his fevers are not down in two days, I will continue the Baytril but start the doxycycline as it maybe a Lyme disease symptom.
While researching Lyme Disease, I found that many people do two+ months of doxycycline instead of 30 days to ensure the disease has been erraticated completely. However, since Chance had shown such improvement after 30 days, I decided to not do another month. Maybe I should have…
However, Chance had similar symptoms when we found a small laceration in the DDFT tendon of his back left hind- swelling, Lymphingitis, fever, lethargy, no appetite, etc. If he does have an issue with his tendon I will most likely do another round of Stem Cell treatments which proved to be helpful last time. Thankfully I stored his stem cells in a Stem Cell Bank (via Vet-Stem) and can easily have them shipped.
I was one of those few. His name was Beau. He was an off-the-track thoroughbred with a heart of gold and the chest of a draft horse. Tall, dark, handsome, loyal, always in tune with my thoughts—he was the best partner a girl could ask for.
We spent hours, days, weeks, months, training together. Athletically, we were on point. Emotionally, we were more in tune than most married couples. In every way, he was my other half. My confidence stemmed from him, and vice versa. There was nothing we couldn’t do when we were together. We literally climbed mountains.
Then, too soon, Beau passed away.
It was sudden. Unexpected. One day he was there, the next I had to make the decision to have him euthanized at the age of seven. That day I lost not only my partner, but a part of myself.
Saying goodbye to a partner is hard. For a while, there’s a hole. It never really gets filled. You keep riding, keep hopping up in that worn-out leather saddle that still smells like him. But it’s never the same. That same passion, love and commitment you shared for one another will never be replaced.
That’s a hard thing to get over. But it’s something every single equestrian will one day have to face. I hope none of you need to face it so soon. I hope your partners grow to be old and gray and pass in the most dignified and peaceful sense. I hope you have time to sit on the ground with them, no matter how hard it may be, hold their head in your lap for the last time and say goodbye.
I hope you get the chance to tell them thank you for the heart they gave you. For the confidence, experience, and love they shared with you every time you stepped into their world. But most of all, I hope you appreciate every single ride.
Go out to your barn and hug your horse.
Let them have that extra snack. Next time they decide they aren’t going to listen, or kick up their heels because they feel fresh, laugh it off. Someday you’ll miss it. You’ll miss the green stains on your white shirt from their grassy kisses. You’re going to miss braiding that mane until your arms ache. You’ll miss hitting the dirt because you couldn’t quite sit their power over that jump. Enjoy every moment of your partnership.
For those who have experienced this and said goodbye, I feel your pain. Don’t be afraid of feeling it, too. Sometimes it’s good to sit down and look at all those old photos and have a good cry over the life you had with your best friend. It’s okay for it to hurt a little bit every time you walk in the barn and they aren’t there waiting for you.
Just remember, they gave the best years of their life to you. They loved you with every ounce of their being. And you returned the favor.
Megan Stephens is small-town equestrian from the hills of New York. She first hit the saddle at the age of four and the obsession has grown ever since. She is mom to a Hackney gelding and competes in hunter/jumper divisions for a local farm. She enjoys freelance writing about her favorite topic in her spare time.
I had the opportunity to work with a “horse communicator” today. She was recommended to me by an equine vet who, after reading my blog, felt that I would be open to the idea, and introduced me to her via email. According to the vet, she often works with this particular equine communicator due to her ability to point out exactly where the horse’s issues are, allowing the vet to adjust/manipulate/treat the main issue.
I chatted with her at length a few days ago as she explained the process and we scheduled an appointment.
Today I gave her a call, as she explained, connecting remotely allows for the horse to be in his natural setting without the influence of an unknown person. That way the horse could be relaxed and the owner can observe, ask questions, and engage. So, that is what I did. She went onto explain that sometimes the horse needs energy work in order to open up to the process and that the horse must trust the process, her, and obviously, the owner.
I was asked to have questions ready to ask my horse, along with something I would like to tell him at the end of the session. (If you have been following this blog then you will know I had some difficulty narrowing down a couple of questions- I have a lot! 😉 ) She began connecting with Chance.
I will not be able to convey all the details of what was said, Chance’s reactions, or even mine…It is almost a blur… I wish I could.
I was asked to feel around Chance’s right forehead/eye area for a lump or bump. I did as I was asked and didn’t feel anything abnormal…but remembered he had a gash that was healing right above his right eye. She informed me that he had a “headache”. She continued to move over him and explained that his “energy” was “blocked” on his right side. This makes sense…Chance has a “swagger” at the walk- he pokes his butt to the side and has a twist on the back right leg (Chance’s swagger has gone up and down- it was worse when he had the tendon issues, resolved after stem cell injections, came back when he got EPM, went away ish, and came back with his Lyme). While she was working on his energy, I massaged Chance’s back, neck, hip, and shoulders. She went on to explain that Chance had some right shoulder pain. Thankfully, Chance allowed her to work on his jaw (he pretty much has TMJ), his head, his back, etc. The energy was “pouring out” even on the hind end which, if I recall correctly, is commonly seen on horses with head injuries.
This is where my one question came in…I wanted to know what happened to Chance when he came to my college. I didn’t give many details…I didn’t know many details but I always wondered what may have happened on Chance’s trip down to my college.
I had gone off to college in January and decided to have someone trailer Chance down (about 3 and a 1/2 hours) once I got settled and found a barn, etc. Two months later Chance was arrived at her new barn. Despite the cool March weather, he was covered in sweat and was visibly scared. I didn’t inquire too much since he was in one piece and I chalked up the sweating and fear to exactly that- fear and anxiety. However, as the months progressed, Chance began bucking and rearing while under saddle….this was really strange..When he had left home we were doing dressage and jumping and he was sound and calm. Once again, I chalked it up to being in a new place- a barn that hosted Friday night Bullbucking no less. I decided to switch to a different farm, one preferably without bulls, even though the show was awesome to go and see, and work with a trainer. Still the behaviors persisted and the episodes of lameness increased. The vet finally diagnosed Chance with arthritic changes in his back and suggested I no longer jump him. I decided that summer instead of bringing Chance home and have him endure another long trailer ride, to board him at my new vet’s farm. Chance had the summer to recuperate while under the care of an equine vet.
Anyways, after that summer, I decided to retire Chance for good. I would occasionally get home him to walk around, I still can and do today. But, that was the beginning of a chronic condition that was never given a diagnosis. Instead, Chance’s symptoms were treated as they came.
Back to my session with my very own horse whisperer..
Chance “showed” her what happened on his trip to college- a trailer wheel falling off the side of the road. His head hitting one side of the trailer and slamming the other side. The pain. The concussion. His neck and back becoming misaligned. His jaw coming out of position. His body compensating. He showed the decline of his once functioning body- starting with the hit on his head, to his jaw, and his neck. Down his neck and through his back towards his hips and down his legs. The wear and tear of his body. Chance stated that he is still angry with the person driving the trailer; he wasn’t ready to forgive. I have forgiven them. I have no doubt it was a mistake and that there was no ill intent. But, I am not the one feeling the pain that he is. I am not the one who went from a racehorse to a jumper to practicing dressage to retirement long before I should have. And like the “horse whisperer” said, she will “hold the forgiveness for him until he is ready.” I will do the same.
She spoke of his time on the racetrack. Chance was happy to hear that he was being remembered for who he once was, and will always be to me- a strong, beautiful and crazy talented 17.1 hand red-headed thoroughbred and not a “weak old man” as he put it. When asked what his name was during his time on the track, he said, “Hot Stuff”, which could be a nickname and not his actual race name.
At one point during Chance’s session he fell asleep; standing in an odd way- hind legs spread out. Suddenly, his body gave out and he caught himself from falling. This entire time his eyes were still closed! They remained closed for another minute after this. His body reacting to something, perhaps a shift in his energies, and all the while he was a a state of peace; trusting that nothing bad would happen to him.
The session lasted an hour and a half. Honestly, we could have continued because of all the “blockages” but decided to stop for the day and pick up again another day. I was told that the effects of the energy work or Reiki, would continued throughout the week and that he would be emotionally vulnerable. As the session wrapped up Chance apparently said that he was the lucky one because I found him all those years ago.
Energy Work and Reiki Resources
Head Trauma and Headaches in Horses
During my horse’s recent Lymphingitis flare-up, the vet advised that we run labs to test for Lyme and EPM due to his presenting symptoms (hind weakness, twisting his back leg at the walk/walking sideways I refer to it as Chance’s swagger). As previously notes, Chance’s Lyme test revealed that he was at the beginning stages of an acute infection…yay Cornell University for their amazing ability to give you more than a positive or negative!
A little history before getting to the EPM Tilter results. About 2ish years ago, Chance was diagnosed with EPM (and one of the reasons opossums and I are not friends since they host the disease as do a few other culprits). Chance immediately began EPM treatment- he received Protazil in his feed for one month. I chose Protazil, although extremely expensive (if you order from http://www.drfosterandsmith.com they sometimes have promotions where you receive store credit for every $100.00 you spend…they did when I ordered and I got a “free” dog bed that my dogs adore) after hours of research due to the less likelihood of Chance experiencing a “Treatment Crisis” (worsening of symptoms) and the ease of administration (other brands require the drug being administered 1 hour before eating or an hour after and so on). Typically EPM treatment is done for 30 days and, depending on residual symptoms, some may require subsequent treatments. While Chance’s symptoms improved, I wanted to ensure that we annihilated the disease and did another round of treatment but this time with Marquis. At the end of two months, Chance’s ataxia was gone!
Fast forward to September 2016…Chance, just having a Lymphingitis flare-up, has been tested for Lyme and EPM. Lyme came back positive. And….so did the EPM test..well, kind of. Wonderful. (See why I loathe opossums?)
Chance’s EPM test #2 on 8/30/16 (the 1st one was 2ish years ago) showed the following:
“Combined SAG 2,3,4 Tilter on serum= 1:2000”
What does this mean? The test revealed that Chance had “positive, specific antibodies” detected in the blood work. This means that he had EXPOSURE to S. Neurona, a causative agent of EPM. Serum tilters range from <1:250 (negative) to >1:4000 (high positive). S. Neurona (SarcoFluor) is one of two protozoa found in EPM infected horses, the other protazoa is N. Hughesil (NeoFluor). S. Neurona is most frequently seen, whereas N. Hughesil is not as common.
The vet ran another EPM test to confirm the findings in the 8/30/16 test. The results showed that Chance had “Combined SAG 2,3,4 Tilter on serum= 1:1000. Again, Chance showed EPM protozoa in the positive-ish range.
I initially had not seen the results but was told by the vet that he was EPM negative. So when I asked for the test results to be emailed to me and saw the numbers I sort of freaked out…I emailed the vet to ask for clarification. She explained,
“The EPM test shows that he was exposed to the organism in the first test we did which is why we did a follow-up test. Since his exposure level dropped from 1:2000 to 1:1000 this shows that he does not have the disease. There is no good one time test for EPM once they are exposed which is why we had to do the repeat to compare the two.”
While this explanation offered me comfort, I was confused…why does he have any protozoa in his blood if he doesn’t have EPM?
I spoke to another vet and she explained it in a bit more detail…I am hoping I am summarizing what she said correctly..
When a horse tests positive for EPM they either have an active disease or they may not. However, when the test does from 1:2000 down to 1:1000 this typically means that the horse’s immune system is working correctly to fight the disease off- active or not. EPM testing typically provides you with a % of the chance your horse has an active EPM infection, or at least if you send it to Cornell University. For instance, lets say a horse gets the results back and it shows that they are “positive” or have been exposed to S. Neurona (one of the two EPM protozoa)…their results are 1:647. This means that, after doing a bunch of adding and multiplying that this vet kindly did for me, the horse has a 60-70% chance of having ACTIVE EPM. Meaning, he most likely would be symptomatic (ie: behavioral changes, ataxia, weight loss, difficulty eating, changes in soundness, and a bunch of other neurological symptoms).
My hunch is that Chance’s immune system was boosted because I started him on Transfer Factor (amazing stuff… more information can be found in some of my older posts) again as soon as his results came back positive for Lyme.