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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi~~ I have a medical mystery that has been plaguing me for a week now and I need your collective minds to brainstorm what could be the cause of my pony's symptoms.
Pony in question is a 13hh Welsh about 13 yrs old very very healthy and up to date. Gives lessons to children, former Hunter pony. SoCal area.

I'll try to be organized in my timeline of events:
Last Thursday: Hot day. gave a little girl a lesson on my pony. Girl got the pony tacked up, I did not supervise that, I was in arena setting up. Pony and girl did some ground pole grid work. Unremarkable, perfect. Set up the grid as crossrails. Girl asked for canter in a random place in the arena. Pony buckled one front leg and laid down, sternally. Girl stepped off. I RAN over, after several seconds convinced pony to rise up. Took off her tack. Let her loose. She acted normal, walked around a bit. I made her trot around. She briefly trotted but counterbent... odd! Then seemed normal just perhaps quiet. Hot day tho. Pony not sweaty. Re-tacked pony and had my teenager daughter ride her. Seemed ok. Did the grid raised, did bounces, never touched a rail. She's a pro at this and can do it in her sleep. Fine. Shrugged it off.

Friday: I didn't see the pony (boarded) but I called and I was told she was eating hay and looked ok. Hot day.

Saturday: Went to see pony- she was out of her mind. Spooked when she saw me! Acted confused. Staring at noises in the distance. Staring at horses giving lessons in the arena. Trotting around her pen with head high. Not eating anything/ much as far as I could tell. (She lives in a shared paddock with one other pony)
Almost seemed... Blind ??
I gave some peppermint oil and some probiotic/electrolyte paste. She fought me opening her mouth.
Other behavioral differences: frequent head shaking. Frequent lip-flipping. Refusal of grain or treats.
Tight mouth and chin.
I called vet, left a message.

Sunday: similar confused behavior, lip flipping, smelling/ dragging upper lip in dirt, head shaking. Looking off into the distance. Staring at nothing. Almost seems afraid. Irrationally resistant to head being examined. Refuses treats. Tight mouth and chin.
I led her in a circle on a hill to see if she would trip or stumble but she didn't.
Blind spot in her vision??? She can see, she isn't bumping in to anything... but sometimes I think she can't see normally.....
Gave a little probiotic electrolyte paste

Monday Memorial day: similar behaviors as described before, but lesser. More subtle. I let her out of her pen and she didn't go running off to pillage the grain containers like any pony normally would, she smelled the ground and walked cautiously. Ate a little grain, carefully. Is she getting accustomed to whatever is wrong with her??
Gave the paste again.

Tuesday: Vet came out!
Pony acted even more like normal, was calm for the vet while he haltered her and examined her. Said "there is nothing at all wrong with this pony". He thinks perhaps she just had a mild colic or blockage since it's been so hot and she's now over it. (Note- pony never rolled, looked at her sides, nothing like colic behavior) The exam was pretty brief but vet said her eyes looked fine, very beginnings of cataracts maybe. Said there is nothing that would cause sudden vision loss. Pony opposed opening of her mouth but vet said he doesn't blame her. Pony is normally more compliant.
I paid a exam and call-out fee and he left.
Pony ate her grain but not enthusiastic, picked at it. Admittedly it is very hot out. I only saw her shake/twitch her head once, lip flip once. Someone else said she was startling/spooking at random gate clanging noises but it was brief and more subtle. She doesn't like it when I reach for her head and violently opposes the electrolyte paste/hates opening her mouth.

Wednesday: more like herself, still not quite her normal confident sassy self. Didn't eat her grain after a couple bites. Better every day but not herself. Doesn't want me reaching for her head. I was there for a couple hours riding etc but I left her alone in her pen as the barn was very very busy.

Today: I'll go see her again this afternoon.

So everyone, what could possibly cause a pony to lay down one day, then totally change her whole personality and act fearful and ?vision loss? For a week now? I've owned horses most of my life and I've never seen anything like this, it's making me crazy

Thank you in advance for any ideas / experience you have~~
 

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Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm.

IF your vet thinks it could have been mild colic, perhaps try 5-7 days of a sand clear type product. Even if you aren't in a sandy area. It's like a human taking metamucil for a few days.

Another easy thing to try is to pony or lunge your pony followed by cold-hosing his shoulders. For one week.

Sometimes, we can tack a horse up in a way that can cause bruising in a shoulder. Even with experienced horsemen. And, oddly, the horse often doesn't move in a lame way. I've heard old horsemen call it a "burn." But it's actually bruising that only hurts with downward pressure.

I've seen this turn even the most easy going horse into a bucking and ducking horse. But easily fixed.

It would be great if either of those help your good pony. Best wishes.
 

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Hmm, I'm inclined to say something neurological maybe? Or a kick to the head? Or maybe snake or spider bite, causing head inflammation? Severe headache....

Only time I've seen irrationally berserk behaviour, where horse went from calm to terrified, reactive, bolting trying to escape something when loose, occasional stumbling... To calm again but off her feed & headshy, the horse just keeled over & died. Owner had autopsy done & brain aneurism was found.

Hope she continues to recover.
 

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Floating tumor?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Update today, Thursday:
Pony seemed normal and ate hay but only carefully.
Then, later, my daughter and I were in the paddock with her trying to fly spray her and she got scared, as if she didn't know one of us was there and then was surprised? She shook visibly all over. For a few minutes. Almost looked like a seizure. Terrified. My daughter tried to talk to her and hug her and reassure her untill it passed. She never went back to her hay net to eat. 😞
I caught some of it on video, I'll send it to the vet after I figure out how to
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you for replies!!
I was thinking possibly the infected tooth could be what this is.. she is violently opposed to anyone touching her mouth! I can't give the electrolyte probiotic paste without a huge fight and 2-3 people. I couldn't give it today at all.
Doesn't explain really all the confused/fearful symptoms though, does it?
I guess this leaves something neurological... But she isn't off balance or tripping or one sided, at least as far as I can tell and the vet turned her around on a lead and said she seemed ok (not a thorough neuro exam)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Update#2 :. The vet replied to my videos I sent him of pony shaking this evening, and said it looks like some type of neurological muscle tremor. He doesn't know what. Possibly kicked in head by the other pony? (No injury I can see) or a poisonous insect? He says she can see, and that she's scared because the tremors make her feel out of control. He said to give 10cc oral banamine and "wait and see".
So did these tremors happen in the days before and I didn't really notice them? I don't know.
I'll keep updating for anyone's interest.
Wish I could upload videos of the tremors
 

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It yells neurological to me. I would be consulting a vet who specializes in equine neurology. Or just a vet who is very well known for doing good, thorough neuro exams. Would be expecting manual manipulation of limbs (leg placing test), observation at walk and trot and turning, pulling tail while standing/walking (sway test), back palpation, etc. Not just turning around at a walk.

When she laid down, was it more of an intentional lay down? Like, girl asked, pony said "eh, guess I'll lay here"? Or was it, girl asked, pony went to pick up, stumbled, fell down? Second thought was that lay down was actually a genuine stumble and she tweaked something that a chiropractor might be able to tend to. It doesn't necessarily explain all her symptoms, but an animal in pain who expects to be in pain can act very, very strange sometimes. A small tweak in a very wrong spot might even cause compression of the spinal cord, which would in turn be a source of the neurological symptoms.

What I'm really wondering is if the lay down caused the symptoms or if the lay down was one of the first symptoms of an overarching disease.
 

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I'm going to side with your vet....possible small bowel blockage.
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Update: (sorry this is late, it's been crazy)
Thursday Eve I posted about the muscle tremors, and Friday (yesterday) the tremors got even worse. She was circling while tremoring HARD all over her body, in every muscle. Falling against the pony she lived with(we removed that pony to another paddock now) Very alarming for everyone at the barn to watch. She seemed panicked.
Barn owner called her old semi-retired vet and sent him a video of it. He was very concerned and said it looked like West Nile gone neurological and to get someone to give DMSO and Dex IV stat.
Young Vet who was here a few days ago said he was busy and also didn't know what this could be.
I spent most of the day trying to find a new vet to come out. Finally got a wonderful experienced vet to come out and give the DMSO slow IV in a bag of fluids and the Dex. Pony still twitching/jerking on and off but no more big episodes while waiting for a vet.
Vet drew bloods too
He took more time with a neuro test (tail pull, crossing legs, etc) She seemed weak in the back end. More so the back left leg. Not super obvious though. also she seemed a little dehydrated and keeps trying to urinate but not much comes out.
Vet said in his opinion perhaps she really hurt her cervical vertebrae and it was pressing on her spine. So, a neck injury that nobody saw happen. He isn't sure though.
Today, Friday, pony is MUCH better with the meds, and able to nibble some hay
Vet just called me, blood work came back normal
I asked him about EHV-1 the neurological type, he said he didn't think so because we haven't noticed a fever. But really, nobody has been taking her temperature until just yesterday, and it was normal. The first vet that did a brief and cursory exam did not even take her temperature I don't think.

So that's where we're at, watch and see, she seems to feel a lot better and isn't tremoring for now, I'm supposed to give banamine paste and watch her and see if this gets better and then I'm not sure what we are supposed to do, if it's a neck injury...
 

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How does your pony currently get fed? If her neck is the source of the issue, putting her head down to eat hay or grain may be painful and that is why she was off her feed. You may need to figure out what is most comfortable for her.

I had a mare with a neck injury and as it progressed, she could no longer comfortably pull hay out of a net (though she was ok eating from the ground).


I hope you are able to get to the bottom of your pony's issue and find a workable treatment. How very frustrating.
 

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The first vet that did a brief and cursory exam did not even take her temperature I don't think.
I hope for you and your pony's sake that you don't stick with a vet that doesn't even take a temperature during a sick exam! I don't mean to be harsh, of course, but it's rather unprofessional and not at all thorough, coming from the perspective of someone who works at a vet hospital.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
How does your pony currently get fed? If her neck is the source of the issue, putting her head down to eat hay or grain may be painful and that is why she was off her feed. You may need to figure out what is most comfortable for her.
Very good point Phantomhorse!! I've taken down her hay net and put all her hay in a stacked tub so it may be at a more comfortable position for her. This actually seems to be helping her eat a little!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Sorry to hear what's been going on. Has vet given a prognosis? Thankyou for keeping us up to date.
We don't exactly have a prognosis, as the that is not positive of the diagnosis. He wants to wait until after the weekend and give the Dex, DMSO, and banamine a chance to work, and then reevaluate after the weekend and see if she will need head and neck films or more (?)
This morning, she seems good, no tremors/seizing, walking around well, more relaxed, and she's eating a little but reduced appetite for sure
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The first vet that did a brief and cursory exam did not even take her temperature I don't think.
I hope for you and your pony's sake that you don't stick with a vet that doesn't even take a temperature during a sick exam! I don't mean to be harsh, of course, but it's rather unprofessional and not at all thorough, coming from the perspective of someone who works at a vet hospital.
I guess I was trying to be polite and not use strong language, but I will never ever use a vet again that charges me for an emergency call out and doesn't even perform a thorough examination or try to figure out what is wrong with his patient. Really poor.
 

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It really seems like it is way past time to be doing some bloodwork.
CBC, Electrolytes, Biochem Profile, Lyme, EPM, West Nile Virus serology, and always keep rabies in mind with any neurological thing. Head injury, neck injury, other arboviruses than West Nile.

Abscess of maxillary tooth root that gotten into the brain. Environmental toxins. Toxic plants. Insects, spiders, deliberate poisoning by criminals (meth, cocaine), mushrooms. I have seen dogs and two different horses eat toxic mushrooms. (They all recovered.)

Is the pony dehydrated? Is she showing colic signs now? Are any other horses sick?

Liver damage secondary to toxic plants. Urinary tract issues.

@phantomhorse13 Can you think of other things to add?

I think that you might come out cheaper in the long run to put her on a trailer and take her to the closest veterinary college or equine specialty clinic and get some diagnostics done. Starting with a full physical exam.

I do consider taking body temperature basic to a physical exam.
(I will consider making an exception for a fighting pitbull from Macon, Georgia that considers their backsides to be private property.)

What if it is just something simple with an easy cure? You need a diagnosis.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
It really seems like it is way past time to be doing some bloodwork.
CBC, Electrolytes, Biochem Profile, Lyme, EPM, West Nile Virus serology, and always keep rabies in mind with any neurological thing. Head injury, neck injury, other arboviruses than West Nile.

Abscess of maxillary tooth root that gotten into the brain. Environmental toxins. Toxic plants. Insects, spiders, deliberate poisoning by criminals (meth, cocaine), mushrooms. I have seen dogs and two different horses eat toxic mushrooms. (They all recovered.)

Is the pony dehydrated? Is she showing colic signs now? Are any other horses sick?

Liver damage secondary to toxic plants. Urinary tract issues.

@phantomhorse13 Can you think of other things to add?

I think that you might come out cheaper in the long run to put her on a trailer and take her to the closest veterinary college or equine specialty clinic and get some diagnostics done. Starting with a full physical exam.

I do consider taking body temperature basic to a physical exam.
(I will consider making an exception for a fighting pitbull from Macon, Georgia that considers their backsides to be private property.)

What if it is just something simple with an easy cure? You need a diagnosis.
Overdue Update==
For anyone still following, I have been overwhelmed but I wanted to close out the story.
Celeste you are right, I was overdue to take her to the Horsepital.
I called the vet out again, as pony started getting worse after the DMSO and Dex etcetera started wearing off in a couple days. She was occasionally circling, opening her mouth, curling her neck around, making strange faces, nodding, and rubbing her mouth on the ground or itching it with her back foot. Like her jaw was bothering her or having twinges on the right side only. They seemed to be "episodes" that started coming on, only a few minutes apart. She wanted to eat food, but couldn't quite bite it or chew effectively and grinding her teeth. and it was getting worse rapidly
The vet came out.... And was totally stumped on what this could be.
He called the Horsepital (we don't have a university hospital or anything like that, it's a very good facility tho) on phone consulting with the horsepital owner, they decided she'd need to come in right away.
We fetched the truck and trailer, and carefully walked her in. She was unsteady on her feet now as these episodes were wearing her out fast.
My daughter rode in the back manger with the pony (country roads only)and the divider removed, pony loose, per vets orders.
The trailer ride was a disaster
Pony went down and began seizuring in the trailer. Went upside down, legs in air. Seizures didn't stop. Got twisted and her airway got cut off. Turning lavender. I had to pull over and get a rope under her and flip her so she could get air.
Horsepital is not far away but when we finally arrived pony was pretty beat up, eyelids and face and mouth abraded.
Staff got her up to lead her off the trailer and she collapsed right away in the parking area, we caught her so she didn't go down hard.
Her eyes were rolled up and she wasn't lucid. 8 doctors and staff sedated her right there, placed a catheter, then picked her up bodily and put her on a guerney and took her in for a CT scan.
She was wheeled in to a recovery stall
The CT scan showed nothing remarkable at all.
The head veterinarian also took a spinal tap
She stayed at the horsepital Thursday Friday Saturday and Sunday
She never stood up again. She had cortical blindness (temporary, I was told) and swelled up abraded eyelids. She achieved sternal recumbancy or lateral recumbancy only. She was able to drink water from a bucket a little, and nutritional mush a little. She seemed to perk up a little if she smelled us and was comforted.
She was on an IV and had phenobarbital and valium, and DMSO, and I'm not sure what all
She continued to have seizure episodes about 2-3 times daily
Nothing she was tested for came up positive
No prognosis. Everything unknown
The vets had lots of hope for her, and they tried for her, but today we all decided that she was a little worse. She was weak. She was mostly laying laterally recumbent, raising her head only with a padded head/face bumper thing on. She hadn't defecated and couldn't stand even with help. I didn't want to put her in the sling, as she seemed comfortable resting in the shavings, at first, and she's small.

I have the option of sending out a EPM test tomorrow just for curiosity.. vets told me it's not EPM because it's too rare in our area. I couldn't send it out over the weekend and the only university that does the test, takes a week for results.
We put some apple bits and peppermint candy in her mouth, and kissed the best pony in the world goodbye tonight and we are heartbroken
If I've forgotten anything, feel free to ask questions. Field Vet keeps saying it's such an interesting case, and he's never seen anything like it in his long career. The horsepital Vets were just calling this idiopathic epilepsy.
 
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