I am hoping that the expanse of experience here on the board can help us figure out what is going on with my sister's horse. Rocky is a 24 year old draft cross, who up til about 20 days ago was the picture of old horse happiness. He lives out 24/7 with some buddies in a beautiful 12 acre field. My sister dotes on him everyday, including oatmeal cookies.
Symptoms: Weight loss, muscle atrophy in the hind end, wobbly back legs..he walks kinda crossed legged and trippy, definite personality change..seems checked out/vacant.
Called the vet immediately once we saw the "neuro" type symptoms. Vet was kinda low key about the whole thing, saying, well he is old, blah, blah, blah. We insisted on a lyme test and an EPM blood test though.
The lyme test is negative and the EPM test is a weak positive. Vet is still not willing to say it is EPM, but doesn't have any other ideas. We want to at least start treatment of EPM just in case. Obviously, we are getting a second opinion this week, but any ideas or avenues to pursue?
She doesn't want to ship him to New Bolton or Leesburg at this point for MRI, etc. I know EPM can be tricky and the diagnostic tests are not so reliable.
My at that point semi-retired eventing mare (18 at the time-and it was a hard 18 years up to that point, lots of riding) came up 3 legged lame, really uncoordinated-like he brain and her legs were not talking. It was about 4 days before it got really bad.
She passed neuro field test...blindfolded, walking up and down hills, spinning her, etc.
Horse was so depressed, and that was not the norm for her when she was hurt or in pain. She has been in a trailer accident all beat to hell when she was young and she never looked that bad. She the year before had the worse hoof bruise/abses I had ever seen and was pissed to be in her stall.
This time, there was NO spark in her eye...figured she was dying, to be honest.
No lyme, but EPM was positive. Knew it would be-horse lived in the midwest in the bad outbreaks in the mid 90's.
Took her to Rood and Riddle fulling expecting her to not come home. A super vet down there, a Kiwi, said in an older event horse with her history of jumping a lot and her build (big long neck) that arthirits in the neck joints could be causing swelling in the spinal colum that would make getting signals to her legs slow and cause the wobbles like walk.
We did DMSO IV that night, and the next day she got joint injections in her entire neck (all 7 vertabraes) and she was back to her old self in 4 days.
She is fully retired now. Her spinal swelling was so bad that it caused some nerve damage on her withers, can't take the weight of a rider without lameness, but she is 100% pasture sound, out 24/7 and happy as could be.
as horses get older they suffer with many things and not all horses live till after 17yrs old
so every year a bonus but we humans have to be a bit more unselfish i underssatnd most peoples feeling as i have had old horses myself still do but sounds like they on there way down hill and you have a winter comming
ask yourselves an important question---- is the quality of life still there if it isnt
then its time to let go while the horse has a tad of dignity and say farwell to old freind and this is best one can do as you doing whats right for the horse
the horse is 24 done you proud now its your turn to do im proud
prolonging it or masking it it will only last xyz sometimes ou might be lucky to get another year sometimes it might be a week but durig said times is it fair
selfish as we humans are we like to make them live longer than nessacary when they start going down hill
time when the times right we do - but sometimes that time comes sooner than expected