Learn equine biosecurity basics for the farm, horse show, and breeding shed to protect your horses from infectious diseases.
— Read on thehorse.com/features/practical-biosecurity-tips-to-protect-your-horse/
#1 Abdominal Pain, Colic Signs Perform Whole Horse Exam™ (WHE) Assess Color of Mucous Membranes Assess Demeanor or Attitude Assess Gut or Intestinal Sounds Assess Manure Assess Capillary Refill Time (CRT) by examining Gums Give Intramuscular (IM) Injection Give Oral Medication Sand Sediment Test…
— Read on horsesidevetguide.com/Common+Horse+Emergencies+and+the+Skills+You+Need+to+Help
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/
Resources on how to diagnose, treat, prevent, and handle lameness in horses
Common Causes of Lameness in the Fetlock
Horses in Virginia are at risk of Liver failure due to Panicgrass or Panicum.
According to Haymarket Vet (http://haymarketvet.com/fall-panicum-grass-and-liver-disease/) Panicgrass is causing Fall Panicum Toxicosis in horses.
“In 2004, our practice was involved in documenting an important toxin for horses—fall Panicum (Panicum dichotomiflorum) grass. This common native grass has been fed to horses in hay and in pasture probably since the Europeans first brought horses to our area. But, while we know that it doesn’t cause illness all the time, certain growing conditions can cause it to become toxic, as it did in Nokesville, VA in 2004. We don’t know what triggers the grass to become toxic, but we do know that it sometimes does become toxic, and the conditions are right this year. This study proved the hepatotoxicity: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/17186859/
Currently, there are several cases of liver disease in Fauquier, Clark and Loudon counties that appear to be from grazing Panicum grass in the pasture. Some signs of toxicity from eating the grasses includes: decreased appetite, lethargy, somnolence (unusual periods of sleepiness), mild colic, or neurological signs. Some horses have no symptoms at all.
If you have this plant in your pasture or if you find it in your hay cut this year, you may want to have your horses tested for liver disease; this involves a simple blood draw.”
Below is a link on more information about Liver Disease, symptoms, and treatment options.
Chance is continuing to gain weight, although as I said in the previous post, he still needs to put on a good 50-75 lbs. As the days continue to get warmer, Chance’s arthritis seems to become more manageable for him; his stride is longer and he runs around (mostly after Lucky) more frequently.
Unfortunately, when the farrier came out about two weeks ago Chance was too stiff to get his back right shoe on. The farrier decided to come back out to try and re-shoe him and, during that time in between, Chance must have tweaked it…AGAIN!
While Chance did not have a shoe on his back right I kept it wrapped to provide some protection and also even out all of his hooves. However, when I arrived I noticed that Chance was significantly twisting his back right leg inward at the walk & it had some swelling. The swelling was not horrible but it was noticeable. I cold hosed his leg for about 45 minutes while I groomed him & gave him a dose of Equinox (pain medication) and Ulcer Guard. I put on his back leg wrap to help with reducing the swelling and provide some extra support. Chance did his neck stretches effortlessly and was baring weight on his back hind.
But as I was grooming him I noticed, on the left side his chest, he had patches of hair loss and dandruff. The area did not look red or inflamed, nor did it seem itchy or painful. So I continued grooming him and decided to put a call into the vet to come and check his leg and the hair loss.
Of course, I turned to Google to try and find out what exactly could be the cause of the patches of hair loss.
According to a handful of sources, there are a few possibilities for hair loss- mites or Lice, a vitamin deficiency, rain rot or crud, or even just his natural shedding tendency. A skin scrape would help to confirm what may be the cause.
As for the swelling of Chance’s back right leg, I decided to call our previous vet who collected and injected Chance’s DDFT with stem cells to heal the hole in his tendon. We have some stem cells left over and I wanted to see if injecting his leg again would be of any benefit. I also would like to get an ultrasound recheck to ensure that there is not another injury to his DDFT tendon sheath again.
The twisting of his back hind leg is worrisome as well.
Everything I have read about EPM states that horses can have a relapse in symptoms after treatment is complete. My concern is that the twisting are due to the neurological symptoms coming back since Chance’s EPM treatment has been finished for a little over two weeks….
Our current vet believes that Chance’s ataxia and twisting is not due to EPM but his cervical spine instead. Could the twisting be worse due to the swelling of his hind leg? Or is the swelling and the twisting two separate issues all together?
While Chance’s hind-end is still sunken, especially on the right side, he is looking much better than he did almost a year ago. In the last year, he has gained a significant amount of weight (and still needs to keep gaining) and muscle mass. This was achieved by upping his feed to 4 quarts and adding hay stretcher with each meal, along with Chance walking up and down small hills during the day.
Assigning a Grade Level to your Horse after the Neurologic Exam
After the neurological exam is complete, the degree of ataxia your horse showed is assigned a grade. This grade uses the Mayhew system and assigns a number 0 to 5. This grade will usually be expressed as “2 out of 5”, which means grade 2 or “<3/5” which means less than a grade 3. The characteristics of each grade are as follows;
- Grade 0 – normal
- Grade 1 – minimal neurological deficits noted with normal gaits and requires manipulative tests (crossing legs, tail sways, tight circles, walking up and down hills, blind folding, backing, response to a dull object)
- Grade 2 – mild abnormal gaits seen at a walk (walks like a patient that has been sedated) and more obvious response to the manipulative tests. Patients can be performing successfully but when asked, they have trouble with lead changes, going down hills at a trot or gallop, stumble, are heavy on the fore hand, require a lot of leg to maintain propulsion, knuckle over when stopping, bunny hop behind when cantering, and drag hind toes a lot at a trot.
- Grade 3 – Easy to see at a walk, look like a drunken camel at a trot, very obvious at a canter but they do not fall.
- Grade 4 – Very ataxic – will fall especially in tight circles or backing. Usually will refuse to go any faster than a walk.
- Grade 5 – Recumbent – may not even be able to become sternal even with encouragement.
Below is a Journal article about Ataxia in horses- symptoms, causes, and treatment options.
The treatment crisis terrified me. I decided to try to get Chance to the hospital.
Tried I did. For a total of 8 hours over the course of two days.
WE TRIED EVERYTHING!
Treats, grain, Quietex, walking, crossing lead ropes, talking, begging, pleading, more treats, another horse, a different loading angle, backing the trailer up to the barn doors, and 100000 other things. I even rubbed lavender oil on his face. After about 5 hours of trying calmly to coax him, I stopped.
The next day I decided to try it alone…just me and Chance….maybe the group of people was too scary? I noticed his ataxia was worse and remembered that stress can increase the symptoms. So, he and I walked and talked and I let him smell the trailer. Very low key. After 3 hours of walking and talking, he finally walked up the ramp…and decided, nope! That is when I knew that this wasn’t worth it.
He was scared and confused and that was okay. We will figure out what to do from here, like we have with every other obstacle over the last 6 months.