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Endiku 05-13-2012 03:09 PM

Symptoms of EPM? Or something else? I'm so stressed.
Bella is our 14 year old Pony mare. She's a vital part of our program, being ridden both as a therapy horse and lesson pony. Up until today, I don't think she's had a lame or sick day in her life. Or atleast not since she was five, when we got her.

I brought her out this morning for our therapy lessons, brushed her, tacked her up, warmed her up, and went to go talk to one of the parents. She was fine at that time, nothing unusual. When I brought the kids over to her, I noticed that she was resting her head on the rail where she was tied up, and she had one foot up on the bar- but I assumed she was just being weird and relaxing.

I untied her, put the kid on her, and off we went. No problems, she went right along with me the whole time without faltering at all. She did try to grab at a few leaves on the trail, and she got one or two...I didn't pay attention to what they were though. They were off of a bush. I pulled the branch out of her mouth, so she could of only gotten one or two at the most, and we continued on. Fast forewards 30 minutes when we're done with our lesson, I bring her back up and take the kid off. The kid's parent offers her a carrot, which she ALWAYS takes, and she doesn't even sniff it. It was a really nasty day outside though, so I figured that the weather (humid and flooded) was just getting to her and brushed it off.

I tie her back up and go to catch Sour, and when I walk by fifteen minutes later, I see Big Cowboy (our shetland) laying on the ground...tacked up. Now he does this sometimes when the kids don't tie him properly, so I untie him and he immediately tries to roll. I force him to get up, untack him, and check for gut sounds. I dont hear very much, so I assume that he's probably colicing. He has a history of colic, and is very sensative, so I brought him up, dosed him with banamine, and handed him over to be walked. I go back to get his saddle, and happen to glance at Bella.

Once again, she has a front foot on the rail, and her head completely slung over the rail with her eyes almost shut. Looking closer though, I notice her hindquarters quivering violently. Both her butt and both back legs were shaking, and her left foreleg was shaking a little to. Ofcourse, that makes me really nervouse. I quickly untacked her and had someone walk her around for me. Its really strange. Its like she's trying as hard as possible not to move any muscles in the back, and she's clenching all of them up. I checked for swelling and didn't feel any at all in any area, including her lymph nodes just in case, but she's really sensative on the inside part of all four legs, but especially the left side.

She almost seems...dizzy- too. When we were holding her, she was constantly shifting to the left, crossing her front right foot over the left one, stumbling, and catching herself with that right foot. She'll walk in a straight line when we're leading her though, but when we turn, she stumbles again. Her eyes are extremely lethargic looking and she keeps resting her head on things like its too heavy. She's still quivering, but she has 'episodes' where it gets worse, then it goes back to just light shivering. She can't be cold, its almost 90 degrees today and she isn't wet or anything. She doesn't have a temperature, I checked- but her pulse is accelerated a little. She's breathing normally unless she trips, and has clear eyes, ears, and nose. No discharge from her vulva or anything either.

I have NO idea whats wrong with her. What are the symptoms of EPM? ERV?

Yes, the vet is coming out. He won't come until tomorrow afternoon though and I'm scared. I called a few other local vets and none can come. The earliest I can get one is late tomorrow morning. What do you guys think it could be? A little extra information is that she has been coughing infrequently this week, just one or two coughs then fine for a few hours. She has allergies though, which I assumed was the reason for this. She's always done that in the spring time as far as I know.

By the way, Big Cowboy seems fine, though a little lethargic as well...he pooped and peed about 45 minutes ago so we went ahead and put him back in his pen. Neither horse are pastured near eachother, and they arent sharing the same food.

nvr2many 05-13-2012 03:31 PM

Wow, I really have no idea. The trying to roll with the saddle on makes me wonder colic. I just wanted to tell you that I am so sorry and will be waiting to see how this pans out. Prayers are with you. Keep us posted.

Endiku 05-13-2012 03:37 PM

Yeah, I'm pretty sure thats all that Cowboy has, so I wasn't really worried. He already seems to be over it...he's munching on his feed as we speak. Bella is really worrying me though. None of her symptoms line up with colic and I can hear bowel movement. :/ Thankyou for the prayers, she definitely needs them, whatever it is.

Should I try giving her some banamine too?

nvr2many 05-13-2012 04:22 PM

Oh wow, I am not a vet and really do not know. I do know it can relieve the pain caused my colic but can also mask fever and such. Maybe someone else can chime in here and be of more help. Can you call a vet and let them know what is going on and see if giving it could help?? Does she have a fever?

MangoRoX87 05-13-2012 04:30 PM

Doesn't sound like EPM...EPM just doesn't jump out of no where, it slowly builds up and gets worse over a longer period of time (weeks-months).

Symptoms of EPM include (from
Common EPM Symptoms of the Body

  • A very common symptom reported for EPM is uncoordinated movement of the rear feet, worse on one side (asymmetrical ataxia). This symptom is often worse moving uphill or downhill, and while stopping or raising the head.
  • Lameness issues that come and go, often switching sides
  • Changes to any gait, lethargy
  • Hind end weakness - worse on ground that slopes left to right or front to back
  • Problems balancing when a hoof is lifted
  • Circling, slipping, or falling while walking
  • Muscle atrophy, often over the rump or shoulders
  • Leaning on a stall wall for balance
  • Standing with a hoof cocked out or in, not standing square
  • Dragging a hoof, especially while turning
  • A sore back, changes in the fit of the usual saddle
  • Unusual sweating patterns or times
  • Carrying the tail to one side, or away from the body
  • Lack of sensation or heightened sensitivity in skin or hooves
  • Falling in the herd dominance order
Common EPM Symptoms of the Head

  • A drooping lip or repeated facial twitch
  • Change in vision
  • Dropped feed or trouble swallowing
  • Head tilt
  • Drooping ear
  • Changes in behavior, including throwing the rider
Less Common EPM Symptoms

  • Geldings that drop other than when urinating
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Changes to manure (Sn toxin may cause diarrhe

I hope she gets to feeling better:(

CLaPorte432 05-13-2012 04:46 PM

932 Attachment(s)
For the mare, Bella, it sounds like she tied up. Its a very painful buildup of lactic acid. The muscles contract and cant release easily.

For the other horse, maybe mild colic?
Posted via Mobile Device

Endiku 05-13-2012 04:50 PM

No fever, I've checked twice.

Yeah, I really don't know what to think. I havent noticed any symptoms at all before this except for that she has occasionally gone down on her knees when I'm picking her feet- I thought that was more because she wasnt paying attention though. The EPM symptoms that I'm seeing are the extreme lethargy (she's just standing there with her head down and eyes closed, tripping/slipping when walking, uncoordination,stiffness at a walk and trot, and the hind end weakness. She drops her feed a lot but thats more due to bad teeth than anything else...I think. She's had problems with that for a while and floating only helps it a little. No change in temperment though besides lethargy, and normal manure. She's definitely not standing square at all though...she's pretty braced out actually.

The symptoms she's having that arent listed though, are the shaking and accelerated pulse.

I'm going to call the vet again and see if they'll atleast listen to her symptoms.

ClaPorte- I've heard of that, but never seen it. Are the symptoms the same? What can I do to relieve some of the pain?

Endiku 05-13-2012 09:43 PM

Anyone else have an idea? The vet guesses EPM or some sort of poisoning. I went back out an hour ago. She's still acting lethargic but ate a little bit of dinner. Still no temperature or heat on her legs/hips/shoulders, but still quivering.

CLaPorte432 05-13-2012 10:03 PM

932 Attachment(s)
Here are a few articles on it.
Tying Up: Rhabdomyolysis in Horses - Lameness and hoof care -
Tying-Up Syndrome
AEC Client Education Library - Tying-up Syndrome

I had a POA gelding that tied up at fair with me. Never had any previous issues. I took him to the vet that night and he stayed overnight. He was severely dehydrated and his selenium levels were nearly nonexistent (super super low). My horses are now all on a Vitamin E & Selenium supplement which helps in muscle relaxation.

Symptoms included:
Stiff Walk
Painful, tight muscles (like, rock hard tight)

My gelding was also very protective of his hindend when he tied up. He would pin his ears and try to bite if you touched him. He was in a lot of pain. Bute may help. My vet drew blood and gave him IV fluids and pain reliever.

He did it twice. The night we took him to the vet and 2 days later. Vet told us we could go back to fair and see how it goes. The night before our classes, he tied up again and we decided to pull out and take him home. Once we got his selenium levels back to normal, we didn't have any issues after that. Coincidence? Maybe?

Cat 05-13-2012 10:32 PM


Originally Posted by MangoRoX87 (Post 1498223)
Doesn't sound like EPM...EPM just doesn't jump out of no where, it slowly builds up and gets worse over a longer period of time (weeks-months).

That isn't true. You can have a horse that is fine one day and falling down like a sloshed drunk the next. That is what happened to my boy when he was diagnosed as a 4 year old and I have talked to several others where EPM seemed to strike out of the blue. Maybe a stumble or two or a reluctance to back up will be the only per-cursor before it fully strikes. Now it will continue to get worse from that point without treatment.

However, I'm not sure if the OPs horse sounds like EPM. It could be, symptoms can vary a bit between horses.

Reading the symptoms PSSM/EPSM comes to mind. Good luck in diagnosing this!

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