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I caught my barrel horse this morning and as we were walking to the trailer to groom/tack up he had what I can only describe as a severe muscle spasm. The muscle that runs along his lower belly just behind the cinch area clenched and began to twitch rapidly. First on the left side, then on both sides. He kicked at his belly, pawed, attempted to bite his belly, and tried to run on the end of his lead rope from the discomfort. I have NEVER seen anything like it. I did all the quick checks for obvious things, he had gut sounds, he wasn't sweating, his pulse wasn't racing, and he wasn't breathing heavy. At it's peak the entire muscle from behind the girth to his flank was twitching and clenched. I got him walking because that seemed more comfortable for him than standing still, and I gave him 4 cc of oil of basil, because it's supposedly good for muscle spasms/spasmodic colic/etc. and within 15 minutes the twitching had decreased and he was comfortable enough to stand still. The twitching seemed to work from front to back and at the end only the area closest to his flank was twitching, and it had decreased in both strength and rapidness. Within thirty minutes it was like nothing had ever happened, but he acted tired, like it wore him out completely. I guess what I'm wondering is if other people have experienced something similar to this with their horses, and if they discovered any outside stimuli that may have contributed to it, or if it reoccured once it started. My horse has never had any real health issues, and it was scary watching him in such discomfort this morning!
 

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I agree with the above, check his bloodlines, if he has Impressive and hasn't been tested, test him. Hypp is nothing to mess around with. Hope its not that, but its possible since he's a QH (not knowing his bloodlines of course).
 

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I also vote for having him tested for HYPP if he has Impressive in his lines.

However, if he doesn't, it's not uncommon for horses to get cramps, same thing as people. A nutrient/mineral imbalance can make a horse prone to cramping up so unless it happens again more severely or begins to happen frequently, I would probably just get him a mineral block/loose minerals and not worry about it.
 

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WHEW! Glad to hear its not Hypp, I know it don't help you much but so happy he's not Impressive bred.

I agree with smrobs, could be a vitamin deficiency. But I was also thinking maybe neurological? Horses can have seizures for various reasons, just like humans. Although I am not sure this was a seizure and not just a spasm. Can you call your vet and ask them what they think? I usually do that when my horse is concerning me. My vet gives me no-crap advice over the phone. She is honest enough that I know she will only come out if she thinks she needs to. If not she will give me free advice over the phone. If your vet is like that, I suggest giving them a call and asking their opinion. They will probably know the best as to whether this is serious or just a one time thing.
 

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could it be an episode of tying up? or EPSM? was he turned out before this happened or was he in his stall? ( EPSM is a possiblity if he is stiff in his hind end as some times. it can vary in severity from horse to horse)

if it has never happened before i would maybe look into
him possibly getting stung by something and it was the pain from the stingy causing his muscles to clench up?

but yeah, call a vet up. couldn't hurt.

hope it was just a one time fluke thing.
 

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clayboy,

Muscles spams especially in the area described by OP are often associated with HYPP, MFM, or PSSM. My mare gets them. I have video if you would like to compare them with your horse's symptoms. I have a very likely diagnosis for her. There are genetic tests for each of these things. They are complicated disorders, so please let me know if you'd like to know more.
 

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I know this is an old thread, but.. I landed here in my search as well. Similar indications in my 19 year old QH. Impressive line, but NN, so HYPP should not be an issue. After blood work, vet is going with PSSM for lack of a better option. No fever, and is eating and eliminating (although he did not eat breakfast at onset). Vet suggested keeping him moving as much as possible, and daily dose of Equioxx.
 

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Papers are not infallible. Quarter Horses, in particular, tend to look similar to lots of other Quarter Horses out there. More than one person has had a horse that, on papers, did not trace to Impressive but upon testing, was positive for HYPP. Paper-switching was rampant there for awhile, and likely still is, especially among auction horses. There are also several other similar issues in quarter horses, so testing is definitely worth doing once colic is ruled out.
 

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He's 19. How long have you had him? What was going on prior to the episode? Could it just be him "tying up"? Yes, tests can be wrong. It could also be something else but again at 19 I would think most of the common genetic maladies would have made their presence known by now.
 

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I'd do a 5 panel on him to check for all the genetic lovelies, though you know he's not HYPP because of no Impressive. He could be GBED or PSSM and you won't know that without testing. And it could just have been a random muscle spasm, or cramp, just like we get on occasion.
 

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I've had this gelding for 15 years, no other problems at all like this. He was bred by a family member who did test him for HYPP, which tested NN. Of course, few things are 100%, so I imagine the test could remotely be wrong.. We've also ruled out Lyme. Others at the barn have suggested a kick to the stifle/flank area could be causing the problems. /shrug

The muscle spasms still happen. Less frequently, but movement, ie, even a walk may bring out the knotted muscles along the upper abdomen, lower rib cage area. There is less groaning and catching of breath, maybe due to the Equioxx? This all started more about 10 days ago.

He tried to roll the other day - his favorite thing... after a more than a week of not even attempting. Very hard for him to get down, and it was questionable whether he would get back up! His back end seems really weak.

Genetic testing, muscle biopsy - these will probably happen if he doesn't improve. Right now I am still recovering from the latest round of vet bills, and seeing if our current program of keeping stall time to a minimum, adding some oil to the diet... and other diet changes may help.

I saw the video Espy had of her horse (earlier in this thread). We are experiencing much the same.

Thank you all for your replies. 15 years as a horse owner, still so much to learn.
 

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Personally I would pursue genetic testing. MFM and PSSM2 are late onset and 19 would not be a surprising age at all for first symptoms to show, especially for P2. PSSM2 is not uncommon at all, especially in quarter horses. What you're describing sounds very familiar. For a lot of horses with PSSM2, there is often a trigger. An injury or an infection that went unnoticed, and then symptoms start.

I don't want to contradict SilverMaple, but be careful with a chiropractor. Horses with PSSM2 (not saying your horse has it, but it could) often can't tolerate that and bending them in all kinds of ways can cause muscle damage.

Oil won't help if it's PSSM2. PSSM2 horses need high protein.
 
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