Headshakers leading to neurological issues - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 64 Old 09-28-2019, 02:13 AM Thread Starter
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Headshakers leading to neurological issues

So odies headshakers may have finally done him in. He came up unable to walk and we thought he was dead lame. Vet came out and reviled he cant feel his legs. He is EXTREMELY neurological. Vet thinks he injured his neck vertebra from head shaking (he had hit his head on stuff because of it but never seen him hit hard). His head shaking is not allowing it to heal and it causing all sorts of issues. He got IV DMSO and something else to see if we can bring down the swelling and get him comfortable. Unless a miracle happens Odie will never be ridden again. And if we cant get him to a point where he can be happy just being we will put him down. His quality of life is important and I wont force him to exist if I cant get him better than this. I have two shots to give him over the next 2 days. The vet comes out Monday to reevaluate him.

my thing is i have never read that headshakers could lead to other neurological issues. the vet said she has seen similar happen. he was fine one day then the next he just could not walk. would not eat or drink unless the food was put RIGHT next to the water. im at a loss.

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post #2 of 64 Old 09-28-2019, 02:45 AM
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So sorry to hear that @KigerQueen . Jingles that treatment will help him enough that he can live comfortably.

Hugs and keep us posted on how he's responding, please.
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post #3 of 64 Old 09-28-2019, 02:57 AM Thread Starter
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i will. im praying for a miracle but i could see the vets face. she did not feel the optimism she was saying. it would be more positive if he was not a violent headshaker. she is concerned the damage is done. and he will need some expensive IV DMSO infusions several times a year. this visit was $250. that is incredibly cheep. but what if we have to do that monthly just so he can somewhat hobble around? she would not give me a straight answer on long term prognosis. I am normally a pessimist and im not feeling confident about his prognosis. i want more than anything for him to live a long and happy life but im getting the feeling i might get a couple more years at best with him. i am devastated.
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post #4 of 64 Old 09-28-2019, 04:26 AM
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I bet you are. While I was watching the videos I heard several sighs out of the vet that didn't sound good. He hasn't always been a head shaker has he? I remember you used to show him. Do you know what started his head shaking?

R.I.P. JC 5/19/85 - 12/9/14. You made my life better.
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post #5 of 64 Old 09-28-2019, 04:39 AM Thread Starter
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he started in 2016. i still showed him as he is fine all fall and winter. i mean his headshakers is somewhat slowing down right now. he might have had a chance with an injury like this if he was NOT a head shaker. he has always been a BIT neurological but vets felt it was just him being out of wack and needing adjusted (that did significantly help but it was there). now im trying to figure out why so sudden and why now? and why at all? his sire is still alive and being used to herd/work/brand cattle. nothing notable in his siblings they they know of. vet is positive its not lyme or EPM just by the symptoms. also EPM has yet to be reported in az (except for VERY south az. like mexico border az) so that further eliminates it.
and if, IF we can get him marginally better so he can run and play he will still need the IV and that's about $250ish per time. and i dont know if we can afford that. i mean if it was like 3 times a year maybe but i got the feeling we where looking at monthly while he headshakes. and an IV in him with headshakers was a VERY sketchy hour. more so because he flipped he crap when she tried to put the IV in. he hit his head on the shade and nearly fell on my father in law. i had to take over and grab him to calm him enough for it to even be done. vet normally sutures the ivs in but forwhent that with him. he nearly yanked it out a couple times.

THEN i have to figure out HOW i can even trim him. it was sketchy when i trimmed his backs up last week. thought maybe he was sore and his backs where thrushy ya know? if he cant feel his legs and cant balance its dangerous for all involved. as it is BO is aware that no one is to go in his stall but her or us (no kids clean type of thing) as he is a fall risk and to be VERY aware of where he is at all times.
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post #6 of 64 Old 09-28-2019, 06:07 AM
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So sorry, hope treatment helps him.
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post #7 of 64 Old 09-28-2019, 10:13 AM
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Sorry to hear this, he really doesnít look good in those videos.

Not sure if itís relevant to his case but I seem to remember one of our members that isnít around much now, Clava, saying her mares head shaking was caused by a sodium/potassium imbalance and was greatly improved by adding extra salt to her diet.
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post #8 of 64 Old 09-28-2019, 11:01 AM
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So very sorry. Such a tough time for you. My heart is with you.
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post #9 of 64 Old 09-28-2019, 11:53 PM
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I too hope that the treatment works - but as someone who lost my horse to sudden neurological problems, now is the time to determine how much money you are willing to put into this treatment and at what point you will make the call to help him rest. I would be very wary of this horse being able to safely travel around his pen and going down where no one is there to help him. Can he lay down and get back up easily still? Is he able to get to his food and water easily enough? Can you safely care for him, including trimming his feet?

Both your safety and his safety factors into this - and it is such a hard decision to make. My mare continued to go down and could get back up, but was continually getting more tired. The vet saw one horse with her symptoms, and said the owners chose to keep her alive. The next morning he had to go put her to sleep because that horse got caught up in a fence while going down and broke it's leg.

My heart goes out to you - neurological issues are arguably the hardest to watch and have any solutions to. Please keep us updated.

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post #10 of 64 Old 09-29-2019, 12:54 AM
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Sorry that you're going through this. Can sometimes feel like a never-ending nightmare. I've dealt with a truck ton of palliative care in other animals. One large dog we took in suddenly couldn't feel his back end. Literally. Fed, walked. 2 hours later this. He had a lesion on his spine and he was done for due to his size.

Another case we had she often went wobbly - at least once a day. But she would recover and lived a really long life.

It's harder the bigger they get ofc.

Based of what you said and upon certain conditions, I would personally take it week by week. My big question to you: is he in pain? This is usually where I'm not willing to compromise regarding palliative care. If they are in pain with poor outcome, where the majority of their time is hurting or struggling, then it's just unfair to all parties.

If he is not in pain (you know him best) and it is neuro I would give yourself more time. Give him more time. I have literally seem amazing recoveries where the vet/professional said to PTS. I weighed in the pain factor, I weighed in the logistics of caring for said animal and decided to give them time. Time has often paid off. But it doesn't always.

Do you have the facilities and ability to care for him in this capacity? Let's say he stayed like this forever, wobbly, but relatively pain free (or well managed). Maybe he's a bit wobbly but far better than your videos. Obviously being crooked would lead to later pains and aches. Let's say you learn to trim him foot by foot in an open area with soft landing. Or next to solid wall you could lean him up against and strapped such a way that the only way he could go is literally down onto some straw. You'd need the help of 3-4 people. One of these persons would solely act as as your spotter so to speak. Stand close, arms ready and if he were to go a bit funny their sole job is to yank you away. You'd need serious people, to never let their guard down. To never let your own guard down. Deep bedding and all the other careful considerations you'd need to take. Is it sustainable?

It is too early to tell IMO. You need to be able to treat him so as long as he's relatively sane still and if possible, if safe, to try get him desensitised as best you can, pronto.

Are you 100% certain neuro? Seen loads of animals that go wonky coz they put their back out, to the point you'd think they dyin' but a week later pick it up. A lesion on the spine as in one of my experiences. It could very well be a knock on the head. And take what @jaydee said about sodium seriously, especially if you live in a hot climate. If you aren't sure about the role of salt/sodium (electrolytes!) and neuro issues then go look it up. It plays a huge role in the management of neuro issues in humans!!
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