Trying to find correct diagnosis - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 09-19-2009, 09:58 PM Thread Starter
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Trying to find correct diagnosis

This is very long, but I wanted to provide every clue possible. I am completely baffled by my horse. About 4 weeks ago, he seemingly forgot how to canter. I'd ask him to canter, and instead he'd offer up a big trot in it's place. Lately he has been unwilling to trot for very long either. He'll do it, but it's clear he'd rather be walking. He's stepping a little short with his
hind legs and reacts a little to back pressure from his withers to his hips, but nothing very pronounced. He is not in any way lame, and is not showing any outward signs of pain. No ear pinning, tail swishing, etc. . His walk is very energetic. He'll do whatever lateral move I ask with no problems. It's like he wants to do what I ask, but simply can't. He'll take a few steps of trot or canter and then just quit. No heavy breathing or signs that he's trying to get air.

Basically the only symptom I have to go on is, he's pooped. The only thing I
know for sure is that it's getting worse. I took him out to his favorite field
today. There's a hill he used to run up like a nut. Today he trotted up him
pulling himself up on his forehand and grunting the entire way. It sounded like he was breathing heavy, but as soon as we stopped at the top of the hill, he wasn't breathing heavy. Before this all started, this boy was the energizer bunny. He never thought about stopping. He seems as frustrated as I am that he can't get into gear. He did have several episodes of falling asleep in the cross ties about a month ago. We thought it was sleep deprivation. A paddock change seems to have fixed it. He hasn't fallen asleep in the cross ties since.

This is what I do know:
His bloodwork is normal, he's not anemic

Tested for Lyme, Titer came back very low, he's also not cranky or sensitive to
grooming so it doesn't really fit.

Tested for vitamin E deficiency but it came back fine

He was recently diagnosed with a grade 2 heart murmer, tricuspid valve
regurgitation. Since then I have been monitoring his heart rate. His resting
rate never changes from 36 bpm and his recovery rate is fantastic. He's back to 36 within 2 minutes of trotting. Doesn't really fit with a horse who can't get air.

We did a bute test to see if maybe he tweaked something. Buted him 3 times over 2 days and then rode him to see if he went better when feeling no pain. There was no change.

We did a basic exertion test. We lunged him W/T/C and then the vet listened to his heart and lungs, both were fine.

She did a hock flexion test since he was short strided behind, but he passed it just fine.

The only other symptoms I have to go on are how he clearly labors to get up
hills and his temperature has been in the 98 range which is low for him. He's
normally around 100. Some research says that a low temperature suggests a chronic infection.

He has had hives all summer which he's never had before. I thought maybe this was all part of any allergy that's just wiping him out, but I have no way of determining that.

I am out of both money and ideas. Tufts suggested I bring him back up to see if he has an irregular heart rhythm while working, but I would think his recovery time wouldn't be that great if his heart was the problem. No diagnosis really fits. I thought of a respiratory infection, but that comes with a fever and nasal discharge. I was thinking ulcer, but he eats like a piggy and isn't at all grouchy or sensitive to the touch. If he tweaked something, I'd think I'd see lameness. The closest he comes to being lame is being short strided in back and he's built kind of straight back there anyway. I thought maybe heaves, but he's not coughing.

If anyone has any ideas, please spit 'em out before I pull all of my hair out.
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post #2 of 10 Old 09-19-2009, 11:26 PM
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I would have a chiro out who is knowledgeable in acupuncture. My old barrel racing gelding had a heart murmur and my chiro/acupuncturist would acupuncture to help with the heart issue. You would be amazed at how they act when they are misaligned - lameness is not always a symptom, but rather changes in the way they go and their willingness/ability to perform maneuvers. My gelding would make my circles into ovals - first visit he was out in right hip, right shoulder, withers, ribs, and neck. Other than the misshaped circles, he seemed fine.

Good luck!

My horses have done so well on dac that I became a rep. Stand behind 'em 110%.
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post #3 of 10 Old 09-20-2009, 11:43 AM
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My first thought is a chiro. They should run you about $100 per visit. It would probably be beneficial to have him checked out and adjusted.

~CoCo 17hh 4 yo OTTB~
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post #4 of 10 Old 09-20-2009, 12:08 PM
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wow. your horse sounds exactly like Uma except she has a shifting-leg lameness to go along with what you said. I've been having the same problems and I'm stumped.

no suggestions obviously, but good luck and I hope your boy gets better!

Look like a SUPERSTAR, Ride like a FOUR STAR, Win like a ROCKSTAR
Eventers: Making BAD Dressage look GOOD!
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post #5 of 10 Old 09-20-2009, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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Eventerdrew, your's is the EPSM candidate, right? Did you ever get your diagnosis?
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post #6 of 10 Old 09-21-2009, 08:41 PM
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Come on people, any other ideas?

Could he possibly be anemic?

I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted.
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post #7 of 10 Old 09-21-2009, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
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Bloodwork showed he's not anemic.
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post #8 of 10 Old 09-22-2009, 03:18 PM
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Maybe something neuroligic? I have NO idea. If his blood came back fine, he shouldn't have a chronic infection - the white count would be elevated, right?
Chiro is usually a good treatment option. If you have a good one close, call them. Our's is $200 per treatment, but he's AMAZING and highly sought after. Don't know what the going rate is in your area.

~Lindsay~ Mom of 2, wife to the goldsmith, doula and childbirth educator in training, life-long horse dork
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post #9 of 10 Old 09-22-2009, 09:06 PM
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Hi - as I was reading your post, I was able to eliminate a few things as I read. You've really covered your bases! My vet tech gut tells me it's heart related. Then I read that he's been recently diagnosed with a gr 2 heart murmer with regurg...definately worth having that worked up further, hopefully with a holter monitor (that's the one they leave on for a while and then look at what happened over time). I would also start with massage before chiropractics - although I am a huge fan of chiropractics and have a great one for my horse, I think a lot can be done with soft tissue manipulation and accupressure/puncture to release blockages, improve immune function, etc etc.
BTW, how old is he? i may have missed that part....
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post #10 of 10 Old 09-22-2009, 10:54 PM Thread Starter
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He's only 7. I recently did a second Bute test. This time I did see a change for the worse. He pretty much didn't want to move at all. Since Bute can aggravate stomach ulcers, it kind of got me going in that direction. Since I'm at a complete loss and the ucler treatment shows results in just a few days, I'm going to try it and see if it's an ulcer.

I talked to the vet at Tufts again today. She agrees than since his resting rate has continually been 36bpm and recovery rate is good, while his condition is still getting worse, it may not be his heart. Yesterday's Bute test is the first time during any of this that I was able to see discomfort in him. I'll try the Gastrogard for a week and see what happens. If it's not that, Lyme's still my next guess since the symptoms are so vague and I live in CT. If it's still not happening, halter monitor will be the next step.
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