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Leonsbrushofluck 09-01-2012 11:49 AM

horse with possible EPM
Can anyone help me with this.. i'm a heavy researcher in just about everything, and I can't help but research this. My vet was just out and was looking at my Walker's movement and what have you and she heavily thinks he has EPM. So we did the test and now i'm waiting for the results. She said they should be back by the end of the week.. Will I have a ridable horse after this? Will he survive? I just don't know enough about it to answer these questions.. help would be appreciated!:-(

DRichmond 09-02-2012 03:14 AM

I hope the tests come back negative. While you're waiting for the results, did your vet give any meds or provide you with any instructions while you're waiting?

I know not every case of EPM is a death sentence or resolves in permanent disability so please have hope. There are some pretty successful (and pretty affordable) holistic approaches to EPM which could be considered if you and your vet are amenable to them. If you google the words "horses, EPM, and holistic" you'll find some pretty good websites which may lift your spirits :)

Dreamcatcher Arabians 09-02-2012 07:53 AM

Is your vet familiar with the way a Walker moves? I have heard of other people having vets think their horse had EPM and it turned out to just be the horse's natural movement (kinda wonky in the back end?). I'm not familiar with how they move, so can't really explain any better. Why does she think the horse has EPM?

eclipseranch 09-02-2012 08:17 AM

when we used to board a TB started acting bizarre, pulled down a round pen, vet diagnosed EPM & it was found that 3 horses stalled next to him had tested positive, apparently all had been fed the contaminated hay..they all had a happy ending but my bosses horse was put down last year found down in the pasture and couldn't get said EPM.. since a opossum had been found near their hay. Sorry, but I think you will have to wait for the tests and see what the vet says to know what the future will hold.

Leonsbrushofluck 09-02-2012 11:13 AM


Originally Posted by Dreamcatcher Arabians (Post 1668453)
Is your vet familiar with the way a Walker moves? I have heard of other people having vets think their horse had EPM and it turned out to just be the horse's natural movement (kinda wonky in the back end?). I'm not familiar with how they move, so can't really explain any better. Why does she think the horse has EPM?

When she came out she said initially his confirmation is really poor. Which, THAT I completely agree. She said his bones grew a little wrong so now he always bows out to the side. So she called my farrier to tell him how he needs to trim him next week to help him out a little bit. She seemed like she knew a bit about the Walkers but probably not nearly as much as she knows about my other horse(hes a warmblood) The thing that gets me is I have been riding him for 4 years this way(at least I think, Jack was one of my first horses and until I got Leon, my other horse, did I notice he really moves differently.) He trips a ton, never fully falls or anything. He walks in a straight line, never bucked, reared, we have even started cantering him and getting him to jump very small jumps and he has never once had any problems. So I guess this is where I don't understand if he had EPM I feel like I would be having more problems than what i'm having with it right? All the research online makes it seem like it would be extremely noticeable and it would progressvily get worse as it goes on untreated. So I'm really not sure. She said he walks and moves like a horse with a neurological problem, his hind end is very flimsy. And he's definetely not lacking condititioning, hes ridden at least 4 times a week, on trails and arena work. So I don't know :( I will definetely take a look at some holistic stuff for him to. And nope she didn't give me any instructions with him until the test results come back. So i'm just going to keep doing the stuff I do the same, we've been doing it for so long this way. He always eats and drinks the exact same, and I read symptoms include legargic. Comparing the sympoms with him is literally 50-50. Theyre kind of even, but I'm not sure if his clumsyness has anything to do with me trimming him like a quarter horse or not trimming him like he needs to be.

Cat 09-02-2012 12:17 PM

When my horse came down with EPM it was noticeable and immediate. He did have an occasional stumble the week before on a ride, but nothing major. Thought he was just being lazy. He did do one thing out of character and that was buck the Sunday before under saddle. I think that was the first sign something was bugging him. But Thursday he was moving fine and Friday morning I come out to a horse that is staggering like he is drunk and doesn't have a clue where his back feet are. Even goes down a few times. In fact - most people I've talked with over the last 7 years since that incident that all had properly confirmed cases of EPM all had it happen pretty similar - a quick and noticeable onset over a day to two weeks. Nothing over years like you describe. In fact, when my horse came down with it there was no riding it. He could barely take care of himself.

Also, what test is your vet getting done? There are now multiple tests out there like an ELIZA that are more accurate. But many vets aren't aware of them or aren't aware of the fact they are more accurate and still test via the Western Blot. A blood test of the Western Blot is going to show positive for majority of horses out there which is why there are a lot of false diagnosis of EPM. If the horse lives in an area where there are possums, they probably have been exposed to it and will show positive. Less than 1% of those exposed will actually get the disease. So if a Western Blot is done via SPINAL TAP or one of the more accurate tests are done, then you should be good. Otherwise your vet is going to come back and say he is positive when in fact he probably is not.

If there is a back end issue on him and its not just due to his breed (anyone not familiar with gaited horses are going to say they have poor conformation and move wrong - I thought the same thing the first time I saw one in person) or I would be more concerned over Wobblers Syndrome. That can look a lot like EPM.

As for the survival rate of an EPM horse - I'm not sure of the numbers, but they can come back and be productive horses again. I've ridden my EPMer on +6 hour trail rides on some very rugged terrain. I treated with Marquis (A proven drug to actually kill the protozoa that cause EPM unlike some other treatment methods out there) and then rehab lasted about a year. A lot of in-hand work, very slow at first and then worked up to stepping over things and around things to use his back end as he got better. After a year we were riding walk/trot and now we walk/trot/canter and you can't tell there was ever a problem.

Leonsbrushofluck 09-02-2012 12:33 PM

Thank you, I will take a look at Wobblers Syndrome. I think my biggest problem is nothing has changed at all in the 4 years. He still rides the exact same, there really aren't any bad days. She just drew blood, I didn't know there was multiple tests, so I'm not exactly sure which she is doing. She did say that if she were to test everyone at the barn 90% of them would come back positive. So now I don't understand what the point of testing was, if its just going to come back positive? I know I should have asked more questions but I was just totally in shock..

Dreamcatcher Arabians 09-02-2012 12:39 PM

I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that your horse's stumbling is probably from not being trimmed correctly. Walkers are different and need different trims. I am not real familiar with them, but I know their conformation appears 'bad' to someone who is used to a stock horse or even Arab type of horse and they do move very differently, which is why they are so smooth to ride.

I'm not going to venture a guess about the EPM, except that if you live in 'possum land like I do, I wouldn't flip out over a positive test if nothing else on your horse really points to a positive diagnosis. OK State University was doing some testing on EPM horses when I was taking a seminar there and they showed us how the horses staggered, kind of 'lost' their hind ends and the real kicker was when they stepped them down off a curb and some of them almost fell down because they have no idea where their feet are. That totally SHOCKED me, I'd never seen that and it was really graphic and pretty scarey. I know you totally would not have been riding one of those horses, you wouldn't have dared because it was dangerous just walking beside one of them.

Leonsbrushofluck 09-02-2012 12:43 PM

Yeah he definetely isn't THAT bad. He completely knows where his feet are. He is known to stumble up stuff. But I will say he is one of the laziest horses I've met, so I do think that may pose as a part of the problem too. He doesn't even want to pick up his feet except when hes jumping.

Copperhead 09-02-2012 12:48 PM

When I was training foxhunters, we had an older horse who went under very quickly.

I rode him to exercise him one day and his hind end kept slipping. So we had the vet out. The vet noticed a scrape on the inside of his hind leg and blamed it on that. I was skeptical. I've never seen a scrape cause the hind end to fall.

The next day he was worse, to the point that he couldn't get his hind end up off the ground. We finally pulled him up and put him in a stall. I wrapped his hind legs because he kept scraping them while trying to keep his balance (scariest moments of my life, being under a horse to wrap legs who couldn't keep his balance!)

Next day, he was worse. I put him on the trailer and took him to the vets. He made it all the way there and then fell while coming off the trailer. The vet put $500 into him (which I thought was cheap) without knowing what was wrong, and I called the boss. The boss said to bring him home so we could shoot him.

I wasn't going to put the horse through another trailer ride, so I told the vet to put him down right there.

We never knew what went wrong. EPM or wobblers were two ideas thrown around, but the boss didn't wait for a diagnosis. The second he knew he was at the vets, he told me to just shoot him.

Wollbers usually effects young horses, but it can effect older horses, especially if they have arthritis in their spine.

I hope your horse comes back healthy. At least you are giving him a chance, something my boss never gave this one horse. If his bones grew wrong and his stride is wonky to begin with, it may just be setting the vet off on the wrong track.

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