Just adding an update on my 20 yr. Old OTTB with Johnsongrass poisoning. He still continues to drip and stream urine: he's incontinent.
There have been no further neurological problems so the problem isn't progressing. This is good. The bad part is that the damage that has been done to his bladder control is permanent. At this point, he won't recover control of his bladder. We're keeping vaseline on his back legs to protect from urine scald. He's perfectly comfortable...we did a three hour trail ride on Sunday. I was riding my horse behind him and you could follow the drips down the trail. The vet has suggested adding vitamin E to his supplements to see if that will help with nerve recovery, but he doesn't hold out much hope.
A brief history: This problem began about mid-March. We noticed dripping and streaming urine and took him to the vet. We then discovered that he had been eating hay with a considerable amount of Johnsongrass in the hay. Our horses are kept at a friends farm about 5 minutes from us. She died a year ago and her daughter took over. We are the only boarders, they have about 17 horses of their own. None of their horses show any symptoms. DB is the only thoroughbred there and the oldest horse. The other horses are quarter horses and TWHs. We're assuming that DBs age and breeding might have predisposed him to this problem since none of the other horses are affected. They've always taken care of our horses as if they were their own and the BO feels terrible about this. DB is currently on senior feed and a SmartPak daily containing OneAC for anhydrosis, BiotinPlus for his hooves. He gets a weekly shot of glucosamine for his joints and is on pasture 24/7. The only time he gets supplemental hay is in the winter when the pasture dies back.
IF this had been spring shoots of Johnsongrass he would be dead because they are loaded with cyanide. Once it is grown, it can be cut and used as hay if it's properly handled. With hay shortages around, you will see it advertised. In our case it was mixed in with coastal bermuda. My advice would be to avoid Johnsongrass hay at all costs. Sometimes it's possible to get away with it with no problems....but not always. So why take the chance?????