Wobbler's syndrome? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 3 Old 05-18-2011, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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Wobbler's syndrome?

So Miss Lacey has been moving kinda weird in her back end for the last while (kinda "sticky" when you go to pick put her back feet, when walking lifts her legs forward and swings them up, then sets then down kind of like she's "short stepping" back there but isn't, etc) and when the vet came out a few weeks ago I had her do all those flexion tests, walked Lacey out for her, etc and the vet didn't really think much of it. She saw what I was talking about and proclaimed it to be most likely not a pain issue since Lacey still moves this way on bute (and because she didn't have a positive reaction to any of the lameness tests). She did say that it might be Wobbler's in the beginning stages stemming from a tumor in Lacey's spine (since she's gray and this has been developing over time) but that she didn't feel it was worth worrying about yet since it's not hindering Lacey or endangering anyone.

Then, yesterday on the Fugly blog, the featured horse was an older mare with Wobbler's and that made me think more on this whole thing...
Should I be more worried about this? It has gotten mildly worse in the last year but not anything outside of mildly abnormal... She's fine being ridden and traversing the hills she lives on (walking and at high speed)... I don't feel safe going any faster than a walk downhill when riding her because she feels unbalanced (it may be a muscle/fitness issue) but she has no problems trotting/cantering downhill on her own time.

Maybe someone has experience with this? I'll try to get a video this afternoon because it is rather interesting and so you can see what I'm talking about.

I guess the thing I'm the most concerned about is should I even be riding her if she has Wobbler's? She's totally happy being ridden and she's never fallen with me or anything but I don't want to senselessly endanger us both. I can definitely see not riding her if/when she becomes seriously symptomatic but in the mean time I'm not sure...

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #2 of 3 Old 05-19-2011, 02:10 AM
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I've only heard the term Wobblers in conjunction with young horses who don't develop properly, but I suppose this is a similar thing. So your vet is thinking it is a neurological/spinal issue stemming from a potential internal melanoma?

They can do surgery to correct some forms of Wobblers, but I don't know that it would be effective--or even possible--with a cancerous tumor.

I don't know what to tell you, besides possibly try to contact an expert both on melanoma and on Wobblers in older horses. I would monitor her very carefully and ride her only lightly and on even terrain. And good luck.
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post #3 of 3 Old 05-19-2011, 06:11 AM
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My experience with Wobbler's is similiar to bubba's - in young horses with such poor neck conformation that there is nerve compression somewhere in the neck that creates the neurological symptoms.

I've never heard of it before, but I guees it's possible that gray horse melanoma could cause something similiar. The other difficulty is there's no hard diagnostic criteria for Wobbler's, short of autopsy - the diagnosis is made by observing the animal's confo, movement and behavior.

My first question is, was a workup done for EPM? EPM and Wobbler's look a lot alike in early stages, and it's just as likely, if not more likely, that an EPM lesion is causing the symptoms than a gray horse melanoma. The good new there is that the treatment for EPM is non-invasive. (Can be expensive, but it's not surgery.)

Frankly, Wallaby, I'd get another vet out there ASAP. Without a definitive diagnosis, you're not going to be able to enjoy your horse, and you're going to wonder if you're doing the right thing every time you get on her. I know she's older, and you want to be enjoying your time with her. Imagine how you'll feel if it's something else entirely, and treatable.

Get a second opinion. Immediately.
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