Starved horse, picky eater possible EMND - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 03-10-2011, 03:49 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Alaska
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Starved horse, picky eater possible EMND

Basically here is the short and long of it. My husband and I decided to acquire another horse. I've been looking for the past 2 months for one that would work for us. I met and fell in love with a beautiful 7 year old T. Walker mare. When I went to meet her for the first time she was a little thin but not too bad and moved like a dream. I had my Farrier check her out, her feet were very long and I had some concerns. When we got out there 2 weeks after my first viewing of her, she had lost a lot of weight, now she was skinny. Her feet checked out, I scheduled my vet appt and to bring her into to town for a test between my mare and her to see how things would go. I picked her up 3 weeks after my farrier had looked at her and trimmed her feet. I was a little in shock she was starved looking even with her very thick winter coat I could nearly count ribs, and she was wobbly on her back end. I was a little scared to trailer her but was also determined to get her into my hands so I could find out what was going on.

I had her checked out on Tuesday afternoon after I had got her into town the night of 3/7. The dis-cordination (wobbling looking) with her back end he believes is from something called EMND (Equine Motor Neruron Disease). I could do some very expensive testing to find out but it's either that or something else thatís worse (can't remember what it was). So what we are doing is putting her on a very special diet full of Vit E and if she starts to recover after 2 months then it is the EMND and she has a very strong chance of recovering fully, if not it's the other and he says she's going to need to be put down. (It will get much worse and she'll end up shortly being in pain and the best thing for her would be to be put to sleep before it gets any worse)

Now I get to the starved part. When I first brought her to the barn she chowed down on their hay. We don't have what I'd call the best hay. I live in Alaska does not grow that well up here and our growing season is very short. My barn buys locally. After I got the diet she was supposed to be on I went out and bought hay from out of state. Very good super expensive about 17 for a 50lb bale. The darn mare won't eat it. She tosses it out and eats the local hay and won't touch the good stuff. In addition I'm having a heck of a time feeding the supplements she's suppose to have, she turns her nose up at it. I have now tried. putting apples in it, mixing it in grain (best so far) using alpha cubes, carrots, apples, carrot treats, berry treats, apple treats, peppermint treats, and even tried hay pellets with corn oil. I've actually gone and bought 6 different kinds of treats, 2 different kinds of grain and nothing entices her with or without the supplements in it. She's eating just not the good stuff she needs to be eating. She had a whole tub full of hay she was browsing through when I went to barn this evening and of course everything that is good she is picking out and tossing on the ground. I thought for a little while that it was the hay I'd bought just wasn't tasty so I tried it out on the other horses everyone of them picked it over the regular hay they are fed. Does anyone have any ideas here? She was not nearly this picky when I first brought her in. I have an idea that maybe it's like people and her belly is full and it takes a little while to expand it after being starved and that she's just eating what she is use to? Or that Iím simply giving her far to many options and sheís overwhelmed by it all. I know it's only been a short time but it is very important with how fast she has deteriorated that I get these supplements in her and she's eating her good hay.

This what I'm thinking about doing: Taking her completely off the local hay, or buying Alpha (don't want to get her stuck on it though). Only allowing her to have the good hay. And maybe try molasses over her supplements with grain and seeing if that will entice her? Does anyone know of a really good horse cookie they all just about find irresistible? I don't have much if any experience with a mistreated horse. My whole horse life (from 4 on up) has been spent almost exclusively with my own horses or my family's horses. I've worked and broke young horses that we have bred but that's far from what I'm dealing with right now. I forgot to mention that the vet told me I had to restart her training from scratch whoever broke her used abusive methods like ear twitching (which I'd never heard about until yesterday) and God only knows what else. Of course I canít work or ride her now He told me the most I was allowed to do is take her for a 5 min walk and put her in turn out twice a day for 30 mins at a time. Any tips on brain stimulation we can do without actually working would be fun to play.
Thanks for reading I'm sorry this is so long.
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post #2 of 4 Old 03-10-2011, 04:55 PM
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Did you consider EPM?

I have never delt with a neurological disease but in regards to the diet questions, I would never remove what a starving horse is willing to eat. Doesn't matter what it is. Getting food in her is the most important part of her ability to recover. Also, don't underestimate hay that isn't good looking. It can surprise you what it does have. Horses are also able to tell us what's going on by how they react to feeds. The fact that she is unwilling to eat grain and concentrates would indicate possible ulcers. Hardly a surprise. Grains and especially molasses will aggravate the ulcers making eating painful. Alfalfa will sooth ulcers by neutralizing stomach acids (high Ca) but there's probably more going on than just that.

As far as getting the supplements into her, go to your local vet, farm supply store or online (Jeffers livestock) and buy the Vit E in the injectable form made for cattle. Figure out her proper dose (1 ml has 300 IU) and give it to her ORALLY. Done. She gets all of it and doesn't leave most of it in her feed pan. It's cheaper than the powder form. They also carry vitamins in a gel form for cattle and goats that look intesting. Adding B12 might help with her appetite as well. A and D are good too.

Take pictures from a few different angles once a week so you can document the changes. They're easy to email to your vet to keep him aware of what's going on.

Last edited by Left Hand Percherons; 03-10-2011 at 05:00 PM.
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post #3 of 4 Old 03-10-2011, 11:35 PM
Green Broke
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Have you had her teeth looked at? It could be that she's dropped feed or if she has any ulcers in her mouth (from sharp teeth), the feed/hay could cause her discomfort. I would also have her scoped for stomach ulcers, as the above poster mentioned.

Once you rule out pain, make her a daily mix of soaked beet pulp shreds (1 lb dry weight, pour off extra water), 1 cup of flax meal, her supplements, and your choice of "goodies" to put it. I would start with molasses or honey, 1/2 to 1 cup mixed in.

If she eats all of that, add to the beet pulp 2 lbs of alfalfa cubes or pellets, a digestive aid, and a vit/min supplement. Increase her meals to twice daily, splitting supplements accordingly. So, twice daily, she'll be getting 1 lb shredded beet pulp, 2 lbs alfalfa cubes/pellets, (soak both 20-45 minutes, pour off excess water) 1 cup of flax meal, and 1/2-1 cup of honey or molasses. Add her supplements to either the AM or PM meal.

Let her have all of the local hay she can eat. Don't worry about the more expensive stuff. Put all of the nutrition and calories in her "feed." Free choice hay is important for her mental and physical well being. Lots of turnout is important too, with friends. 24/7 is best, with stall time just for meals, or have her in a private paddock that shares a fence line with a horse she likes.
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post #4 of 4 Old 03-17-2011, 12:57 PM
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Exclamation might have ulcers!

My colt Bullet had the same problem. It appears your horse does hae ve ulcers. I was so worried that I asked a trainer friend of mine what he uses for his horses. He said that the treatment that he uses for all of his horses for ulcers is U-Guard (not U-Gard). Bullet was back to normal in no time. As suggested by my trainer I keep him on the product as a preventive measure. It is the best alternative to the real expensive brand name. Also, it is all natural and wont hurt your horse. I buy it at Big Dee's but have also purchased it online at
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emnd , picky , starved

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