Archive for March, 2009

Abstract Art

Friday, March 27th, 2009
Hoof Drag on Stall Floor

Hoof Drag on Stall Floor

Is this an abstract art painting sold by my brother-in-law Mike? Nope. It’s an overhead photo of the floor of Fudge’s stall. You can see the circular pattern in the shavings where he drags his right hind hoof. A classic symptom of EPM is asymetrical ataxia (uncoordinated movements) in the rear limbs.

Fudge also drags his rear feet when backing up. He simply doesn’t know where his rear feet are in relation to his body (proprioception). This loss of sensation is caused by nerve damage to his central nervous system, by the protozoa infection and the accompanying inflammation. The hope is that the inflammation damage is temporary, and that he will build new nerve pathways around the damaged areas.

The frustrating part of EPM, is that even after months of treatment, supplements, and therapy, you really don’t know if the horse will be ride-able again. He may be ride-able, but not for the purpose for which he was purchased.

Fudge gets 15 hours of turn out with his quiet friends during the day. This allows him to self-excercise at his ability level. We have started hand walking him to test for simple movements such as turning, backing and stopping. Tight turns are definately still a problem.

Need to shop for art for your naked walls?  It’s better than cleaning stalls.
Naked Wall Art Gallery

Is This a Relapse?

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

We were not able to obtain much information about Fudge from Paula Derby, the seller. We do not know if this is a first EPM infection, or a relapse. The lack of a health history has mandated that we treat this as a relapse. A relapse is generally treated more aggresively to try to kill all protozoa in the central nervous system.

For his second month of treatment, the vet perscribed Diclazuril at 5X the FDA dose, after we all read the article “EPM: Managing Relapses”, by Robert MacKay, Compendium Equine, Jan/Feb 2008. The price of this compounded drug was $200/month for 5X the dose, compared to $775/month for the regular dose of Marquis. Fudge is still on a probiotic/vitamin/mineral supplement, and an additional 10,000 IU of vitamin E per day.

We are seeing a more rapid improvement after two weeks on this treatment. However, we know that there is no way to scientifically separate what might have happened after the first month of Marquis at the normal dose. Fudge is more stable on his feet, and doesn’t seem like he will fall when a rear hoof is lifted. His turns are still rough and slow. His general attitude is brighter, and he has more energy.

Skin Problems and Immune System

Thursday, March 19th, 2009
Starting to grow hair April 4th

Starting to grow hair April 4th

The day that Fudgie came home, we noticed small bumps coming up on his skin. To head off problems, we wanted to wash him in an anti-microbial shampoo. We also noticed that he had older skin wounds that looked like they weren’t healing well. Two months later, the wounds have just now started to heal.

Fudge came to us with large blanket rubs across his shoulders and chest. After two months the hair had not started to grow back.

When a horse’s immune system is compromised by a long infection, it can’t keep the many microbes that normally inhabit the skin in check. Fungi and bacteria begin to create infections. The body also doesn’t have the extra energy to renew skin, hair, and hooves. Poor nutrition, lack of vitamin E in winter, and infection can all play a role in less-than-healthy coat and skin. We are addressing the EPM infection through medicine, and are boosting the immune system with a supplement containing probiotics, vitamins, and minerals. He is also getting 8,000 IU of additional vitamin E each day.

A New Twist

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
Rainy Days and Mondays...

Rainy Days and Mondays...

With much egging on from friends and family, I have decided to move the pages of EPM information to their own web site. I’ll have to come up with a really catchy name for the site on horses with EPM. Like… or some other highly creative moniker. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

That leaves me with a new twist for my free time, learning the HTML of web site design. Oh, joy.

Cooling My Heals

Thursday, March 5th, 2009
I'm So Blue

I'm So Blue

Fudgie is getting some much needed rest, and the footing is messy, so I’m not riding.  It’s left me with some extra time on my hands, and I decided to do some more detailed research on EPM.  I headed to Penn State Library to access the Elsevier Direct Science web site.  This subscription service has many veterinary medicine journals in full text.   

 My brother-in-law, Mike, has suggested that this is good therapy for me.  Personally I like red wine and chocolate better, but they’re not as helpful to Fudge.  The reading has uncovered a few things about cheaper treatments and more up to date tests.

This is one of our other horses, a 5 year-old mustang mare.