I have known for a while that something was just not quite right about him.I asked my vet to take a look at him today while he was out there, thinking there was some lameness issue I was missing.
He put Drift through some neurological tests and he failed almost every one. We had a discussion about my finances, and my goals for Drifter. I would be okay as long as he was pasture sound and happy, but he is not right now. My vet seems to think he has EPM.
He has him on 3 weeks of byte, with normal turn out. 2g/day the first two weeks and 1g/day the third week. He said he would be back out to reevaluate at the end of the third week. Best case scenario is its osteoarthritis in his neck or spine, but he said he was "pessimistic about that being the case".
I've done some research on EPM since getting home and Drift does have most of the symptoms.
- He has uncoordinated movement of his back feet- seemingly worse on the left, especially when my vet would raise his head and have him back up.
He has intermittent lameness and is just not quite right.
His lameness seems to often switch sides.
He has become very lethargic.
He has shown major hind end weakness, especially when going down hills.
He's having trouble balancing when you lift a hoof.
He slips if he turns in a circle.
The list goes on....
I was expecting my vet to tell me he was 'out' somewhere, or tell me I was nuts. But he has worked closely with Drifter and I in the past and when he was finished he looked at me and said "You summed it up perfectly. Something is just 'not quite right' and I'm concerned".
Drifter slipped and lost his balance when he had him turn in tight circles. He pulled on his tail and Drift fell to the side he was pulling on. He pushed against his shoulder and Drifter fell into the direction he was pushing. He actively seeks out something to lean against (fence, person, etc). At times when my Dr. Was free lunging him to look at him, there were moments where it's like Drifter couldnt find his feet under him.
My vet also stood him on flat concrete and showed me how he has muscle atrophy under his shoulders, and how he is leaning to one side when when he stands. He has also dramatically lost muscle over his hips.
I think I am honestly still a little shell shocked. I wasnt prepared for that news at all. I talked to him for a while and I love Drift to death with all of my heart and soul, but I am still a college student who has to pay my bills and support myself and my dogs and other horse. I have to realistically think about what I can afford financially to care for him, and how long I would be able to keep that up.
I am going to take these next few weeks to think long and hard about it and I am going to try and be realistic about his quality of life. Right now my vet and I both agree that he is not at a place where we would be content to let him live out the rest of his days.
I got the overall impression from our talk that he knew what my final decision was going to have to be, and he's trying to give me three weeks to prepare and come to terms with it. When he mentioned the bute, I said "But Drifter has had ulcers" and he gave me some neighlox, told me to use the rest of my ulcerguard and not worry about the ulcers and that he would see me in 3 weeks.
I'm sorry this is so jumbled up and probably doesnt make sense. I've been a wreck since two o clock this afternoon. I love this horse, and even having to think about letting him go breaks my heart into a million tiny pieces. I am going to continue reserching so that whenever I do make a decision, it will be the most well informed and educated decision I can make.