Tag Archives: the fight

You’re Always with Me

Tonight I lost my best friend, Chance. The one who whinnied the moment my car pulled up, would run away and wait for me to catch him only to turn around and run away again. He made me laugh, knew all my secrets and nuzzled me when I was sad. He taught me about unconditional love and having a positive attitude despite circumstances. He nodded when I asked if he loved me and gave kisses to get treats. He’s the 17.1 hand horse who would stand behind me and fall asleep as I did my school work and would get upset if any horse got near me but would never hurt a fly. He let children hug him and dogs run into his stall and let me dress him up with flowers. He loved rolling in the snow, laying in the sunshine, and would light up the moment he saw me. I’ll miss playing in the barn on cold nights and curling up reading in his stall when he wasn’t feeling well. I’m thankful that he waited for me to get there tonight to say goodbye so I could hold his head in my lap and talk to him while he passed. There will never be a sweeter horse with a more gentle and pure soul. Thank you, Bubba, for being with me through it all- high school, college, the break ups, the losses, the good and bad days. You gave one hell of a fight for 30+ years. Lucky and I will miss you- there will never be another you❤️ #myfavoriteredhead #chancewetake #20yearstogether #thebesthorseintheworld #myheart

EPM Tilter. What Do The Numbers Mean?

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.

Here are the 3 EPM tilters that were run on Chance (Oldest to most recent) along with his Lyme test results:

epm-2014

epm-test-results-8-31-16

EPM results 9-8-16 copy.jpg

lyme-titer-8-30-16

 

I have a limp!

Resources on how to diagnose, treat, prevent, and handle lameness in horses

Your Horse Has a Swollen Leg – Why and What To Do | EquiMed – Horse Health Matters

All About the Fetlock

Fetlock Lameness – It’s importance… | The Horse Magazine – Australia’s Leading Equestrian Magazine

Causes of Equine Lameness | EquiMed – Horse Health Matters

 

Common Causes of Lameness in the Fetlock

fetlock lame

 

Pump, Pump, Pump It Up!

The vet came out to give Chance and Lucky their fall shots and do some follow up acupuncture on Chance.  The vet said that Chance has increased flexibility especially in his cervical spine and has gained weight and muscle mass!!!!!!

His feeding regiment is as follows:

AM:

  1. 6 quarts of Nutrina Safe Choice Senior Feed
  2. 3 quarts hay stretcher
  3. Alfalfa hay mix (as much as he wants through out the day)

PM:

  1. 6 quarts of Nutrina Safe Choice Senior Feed
  2. 3 quarts hay stretcher
  3. Alfalfa hay mix (as much as he wants through out the day)
  4. 1 Scoops of DuraLactin (Natural anti-inflammatory and pain supplement)
  5. 1 SmartPak (Senior Flex, Immune Boost)

He is out all day when it is cool and all night when it is hot during the day. So he has tons of green grass to eat.  He walks constantly- up and down the hills- and runs around with Lucky.  We also walk ground poles and do stretches and massage every time I come out to the barn.

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We still need to continue upping his weight and muscle mass preferably before winter.  Fingers crossed.

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GRIT

A while ago, one of my good girlfriends, sent me an article about perseverance; why some are able to withstand tremendous adversity while others can’t? The article referred to this concept of an individual’s strength to endure life’s obstacles, to succeed in the face of adversity, to remain positive and continue to move forward despite what is thrown ones way, as Grit. Those who are able to endure the obstacles-have it- and those who are unable to endure- don’t.

“In a recent article published by People in Aid, Scott Breslin argues that grit, and not just resilience, is a key component for aid workers. Grit is defined ‘as perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress’ (Duckworth, et al. 2007: 1087-1088). Resilience instead is the human capacity to bounce back from difficult experiences.” (See more at: http://mindfulnext.org/aid-work-is-not-a-survival-contest/#sthash.OsqxZNnG.dpuf)

I can’t help but wonder if the concept of Grit may also apply to our four-legged friends? Because I am pretty sure that Chance has it. What makes living things able to remain positive and enthusiastic and continue to persevere despite being in tremendous pain?

I am truly humbled every time I look at Chance and I see a 25+ year old horse who has lived for years with painful flare-ups without a known cause…yet even at his absolute worse, he was still engaged in life…eating, whinnying, trying to run and play, giving kisses for treats…and now, after a year of ups and downs, triumphs and tribulations, stumbles and falls, medications and supplements, pokings and probings, needles and adjustments, samples and tests, and changes in just about every aspect of his life, he is finally in a healthy place!  (He is no longer on pain medications daily.  He maybe gets a dose a month or so. And does not have bouts of lameness or swelling).

What enables him to remain his calm and happy self despite all of the above?  How was he not biting and kicking with every prick of a needle?  How is his soul still gentle? How was he determined to walk up a small hill a year ago and now is able to run up that very same hill?  He loves every second of his life.  This may sound odd, but my old guy revels in every single second of his day.

He whinnies the moment I pull up into the driveway and greets me.  He devours every ounce of grass he can.  He often follows his friend and co-caretaker, John, to feed the chickens in the morning. He yells for his buddy, Lucky, when he can’t find him.  He runs every where he is able to including back and forth from the house to the barn- racing with Lucky.  He rolls around in the grass, the snow, or mud.  He will lay in the green grass basking in the sunshine.  He investigates everything around him.  And each and every time he stumbles, or even falls, he gets right back up and tries again.

To me, that is the essence of Grit…to keep on trucking through life with a soft heart and grateful and determined soul.

Duckworth, A. Peterson, C. Matthews, M., Kelly, D. (2007) “Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 92(6), 1087-1101.

“Ask him what he wants…you will know what to do from there.”

When I arrived at the farm I was greeted by those familiar big brown eyes and a whinny.

I brought him out of his stall and gave him a bath.  He has always loved to be groomed and bathed, even if he is apprehensive to walk into the wash stall. After his bath, we went outside for him to graze and get some sunshine.  When we walked inside the barn, I stopped him and looked into his eyes and asked him, “do you want to keep trying to get better or are you ready to give up?”  He just looked at me.  A lump immediately formed in my throat.  He nuzzled me and rubbed against me.  I said again, “Do you want to keep fighting?”  He shook his head up and down! I swear to you!  This actually happened!

The decision was made, we would keep on fighting as long as we were able to keep him comfortable.  There was nothing I wanted more than to bring him home with me, let him live out the last days of his life pain-free, and with me by his side.

This was his turn.  He had always done what I asked of him- lessons, moving stables and even cities, and he was patient while I was in school- and it was his turn for me to make it about him.  For Chance to get every ounce of my time and for me to fight for him!

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