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  1. #1
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    Sep. 26, 2008
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    Default Wobblers diagnosed at 14??

    First of all, this isn't my horse but I am assisting in her sale thus the need for opinions from others.

    Mare is 14 years old, shown in Pony Club with young rider for the past 4 years. Jumps 2'6'', does PPG, decent dressage mare, very safe and always good to ride. Her rider has outgrown her so we put her on the market, and some people recently decided to purchase her, pending a PPE. The PPE was done by a vet with an equine surgeon specialty. He concluded that he couldn't pass her as she has signs of Wobblers. Basically, they took her up and down a hill, she stumbled once coming back down and they started to look further. One of the diagnostic tests he used was to push the mare's head into the air and ask her to back, which she did but not as quickly as if her head was down normally. Now, my opinion is that the vet was asking this horse to do things that any normal horse might become upset by, let alone using them only as a diagnostic for Wobblers.
    He didn't give a diagnosis, only recommended that our purchaser's pass on the mare. We are going for a second opinion because this mare has NEVER shown any signs of wobbling in her gait, unsteadiness, tripping, spinal complications etc.. From all the reading I've done, this is generally something found in young horses and it would generally prevent them from having a performance career?? Anybody have an older horse diagnosed? Thoughts?
    Proud Momma:

    Imax - Fresstyle x Juventus x Rubinstein
    2014 - Sister to IMAX (hopefully)



  2. #2
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    Nov. 28, 2003
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    You are right; for a definitive diagnosis you are going to need more in-depth diagnosis. However, wobbler is a catch-all term for any process that involves the bony parts of the sping impinging upon the spinal cord. In young horses, "wobblers" is almost always caused by trauma or an OCD lesion of the spine. In older horses "wobblers" is usually caused by arthritic changes of the bony spine. So technically yes, an older horse can have wobblers, but the term wobblers is more a description of the symptoms, rather than an end diagnosis.
    Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."
    --Winston Churchill
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  3. #3
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    Jan. 28, 2002
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    Alberta, Canada
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Hillside H Ranch View Post
    You are right; for a definitive diagnosis you are going to need more in-depth diagnosis. However, wobbler is a catch-all term for any process that involves the bony parts of the sping impinging upon the spinal cord. In young horses, "wobblers" is almost always caused by trauma or an OCD lesion of the spine. In older horses "wobblers" is usually caused by arthritic changes of the bony spine. So technically yes, an older horse can have wobblers, but the term wobblers is more a description of the symptoms, rather than an end diagnosis.

    Agreed!
    www.DaventryEquestrian.com
    Home of Welsh Pony, ISR/Oldenburg & RPSI pony stallions Daventry's Power Play, Goldhills Brandysnap LOM & Alvesta Picasso
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  4. #4
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    Jan. 29, 2000
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    Brownsburg, VA
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    Default

    I really, really, really feel for the owner of the mare - because that ending to the pre-purchase came completely out of left field. If I owned the mare and had been competing her...I would be shell-shocked.

    That said - I wish ALL prepurchase exams included a neuro exam. It would have saved me incredible heartbreak on a 2yo I purchased.

    I wouldn't blame the vet - he just reported on his findings - and stopped the PPE. That's ethical.
    "No matter how cynical I get its just not enough to keep up." Lily Tomlin



  5. #5
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    Jan. 4, 2007
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    TX
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hillside H Ranch View Post
    You are right; for a definitive diagnosis you are going to need more in-depth diagnosis. However, wobbler is a catch-all term for any process that involves the bony parts of the sping impinging upon the spinal cord. In young horses, "wobblers" is almost always caused by trauma or an OCD lesion of the spine. In older horses "wobblers" is usually caused by arthritic changes of the bony spine. So technically yes, an older horse can have wobblers, but the term wobblers is more a description of the symptoms, rather than an end diagnosis.
    That is right.
    You now need to get a second opinion and if that still checks out as possibly wobblers, maybe follow thru with x rays to see why.
    Even if it is, if she is fine now and no stumbling or other, she may never show any more than she does now and then, it could be a progressive condition.
    That is why I would follow thru to see what you have there.



  6. #6
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    Feb. 1, 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hillside H Ranch View Post
    You are right; for a definitive diagnosis you are going to need more in-depth diagnosis. However, wobbler is a catch-all term for any process that involves the bony parts of the sping impinging upon the spinal cord. In young horses, "wobblers" is almost always caused by trauma or an OCD lesion of the spine. In older horses "wobblers" is usually caused by arthritic changes of the bony spine. So technically yes, an older horse can have wobblers, but the term wobblers is more a description of the symptoms, rather than an end diagnosis.
    Wobblers is something we deal with in dogs… generally it refers to a compression, it’s a heartbreaking diagnosis, but it turns out there is not nearly the research on the condition that breeders need to avoid transmitting wobblers. It is something seen in many breeds, including two breeds we’ve been involved with over the years (Great Dane and Dobermans). Vet’s make a lot of claims about wobblers, right up till you ask for the published research behind the claim, then they tend to back off. Seems there is so much that was never studied. We had a puppy present with symptoms that were atypical (for example, the symptoms never involved any restricted movement of the head or neck). In all we had about a dozen vets involved in trying to diagnose the puppy, including board certified neurologists, vets at Tufts and at NCSU… all ran different tests, none said the same thing (it was also diagnosed as Lymes, Neosprosis, and “a very rare Storage Disease”). There were all sorts of surgical options offered, and non traditional treatment involving gold beads, at one point we were told to euthanize the puppy, that day, that there was “no treatment, no cure, no hope… put him down and do an autopsy.” After a month of going in circles, low doses of prednisone completely resolved the symptoms within a few weeks.

    We took from the experience that there is simply not enough known about Wobblers. Arthur researched all veterinary journal articles published world wide on the subject. Among other things, we have not found any published research that focused on a distinction between “trauma induced” and “hereditary.” People in horses make this distinction with a great deal of confidence, is it based on medical science… or is it simply what has been observed and tracked by word of mouth and custom? Is there any research that would guide a medical professional to make the distinction between trauma induced and heredity? Does anyone see patterns in certain bloodlines? Poor propioception and ataxia are signs of wobblers, but these symptoms are also related to many other problems. Typically a canine vet uses an MRI to make the final diagnoses, what diagnostic tests does an equine vet use? Is it even possible to MRI a horse? Are there any definitive diagnostic test in equines that would guide a breeder to avoid breeding combinations that might produce wobblers?

    In canines we have publicly accessible tracking databases (like OFA http://www.offa.org/ ), so that we can all see what tests have been done and track a bit of what’s being produced. Is there anything like that in equines? Or is it all world of mouth? We know of one lovely popular stallion, who for years was kept out of the public eye because he’d supposedly had “a back injury” (that is what the SO told us). The first video of the stallion, released to mare owners, which we still have, was almost painful to watch because his back was so weak. Eventually the stallion’s back got stronger, but there was always clearly a weakness. Friends who did not know the history of the stallion bought a foal of his, which had to be euthanized with wobblers at about two years of age. They contacted the SO, who immediately claimed the wobblers was the mare’s fault, with out ever disclosing the history of “back problems” the stallion had.
    Last edited by Cartier; Sep. 5, 2009 at 06:08 AM.



  7. #7
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    Jan. 4, 2007
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    We had to euthanize our second dobie due to wobblers, some 30 years ago.
    The vet tried everything we could find to do for her, but the impingment on her spinal column was too great and surgery was not reccomended, as the problem was rather extensive.

    We think it was brought on when she took a hard tumble as a puppy and may have wrung her neck seriously then, but we will never know.
    She never walked right behind after that, but bunny hopped.
    Wobblers didn't show up until past a year after that.
    She finally lost control of her hind end and became very aggressive when anyone other than myself touched her.
    We could not help her at all any more, so a final decision was made.
    Heartbreaking.



  8. #8
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    Jul. 19, 2001
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    Default

    There is plenty of information out there explaining how wobblers is diagnosed in horses. It involves xrays and myleograms and there are some tests you can do yourself which are not definitive but will give you an idea if there may be a concern. There are many good articles on this so not sure why there was difficulty finding one. Here is one:

    http://www.uky.edu/Ag/AnimalSciences/pubs/asc133.pdf


    it does not sound like the PPE vet did enough to make any sort of diagnosis but saw some signs which rightly or wrongly made him suspicious there was a neuro issue. Good idea to get a second opinion as it could be any number of things if anything.



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by egontoast View Post
    There is plenty of information out there explaining how wobblers is diagnosed in horses. It involves xrays and myleograms and there are some tests you can do yourself which are not definitive but will give you an idea if there may be a concern. There are many good articles on this so not sure why there was difficulty finding one. Here is one:

    http://www.uky.edu/Ag/AnimalSciences/pubs/asc133.pdf
    Quoting from that paper, first sentence of the fourth full paragraph: “The exact cause of the wobblers syndrome in horses is unknown.” I was asking if there was any published research that addressed distinguishing between “hereditary” and “trauma induced.” Seems that, according to this article, the answer is, “No.”

    This statement is interesting, "The breeding of two wobbler parents does not always increase the incidence of the syndrome in the offspring." But the article doesn't cite any sources. We'd like to see current, published, peer-reviewed journal articles.

    Bluey might agree, it is not an easy diagnosis to deal with… very hard to watch a beloved animal suffer with it.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cartier View Post
    Quoting from that paper, first sentence of the fourth full paragraph: “The exact cause of the wobblers syndrome in horses is unknown.” I was asking if there was any published research that addressed distinguishing between “hereditary” and “trauma induced.” Seems that, according to this article, the answer is, “No.”

    Bluey might agree, it is not an easy diagnosis to deal with… very hard to watch a beloved animal suffer with it.
    I have seen trauma induced "wobblers" diagnosed, based upon history. I.e. The owners saw the horse crash into a tree, get kicked, etc. Symptoms followed and upon x-rays there was clear damage to the vertebral processes. So that is one way that wobblers attributed to trauma can be diagnosed. As far as hereditary, it is just like OCD. We know that there is some genetic component, however elusive, is some cases of OCD. But we also know that OCD can be caused by diet and other management practices. When wobblers is diagnosed in a young horse (ie radiographically, especially) and the cause is an OCD lesion of the spine, then we need to take into account history. But to definitely say it is hereditary is hard to do, unless multiple members of the same bloodline are affected.
    Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."
    --Winston Churchill
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hills...h/112931293227
    www.HillsideHRanch.com



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hillside H Ranch View Post
    I have seen trauma induced "wobblers" diagnosed, based upon history. I.e. The owners saw the horse crash into a tree, get kicked, etc. Symptoms followed and upon x-rays there was clear damage to the vertebral processes. So that is one way that wobblers attributed to trauma can be diagnosed. As far as hereditary, it is just like OCD. We know that there is some genetic component, however elusive, is some cases of OCD. But we also know that OCD can be caused by diet and other management practices. When wobblers is diagnosed in a young horse (ie radiographically, especially) and the cause is an OCD lesion of the spine, then we need to take into account history. But to definitely say it is hereditary is hard to do, unless multiple members of the same bloodline are affected.
    Thanks, that’s about what we found. As dog breeders, it would be extraordinarily helpful if we had a way to distinguish between “trauma induced” and something that was “hereditary.” Sometimes the science just isn’t there... and we are left to struggle with bits and pieces of data, that can lead us all over the place.



  12. #12
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    Sep. 17, 2007
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    Cloverdale, Ca.
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    Sorry to get OT for a brief moment but Cartier, your Dobermans are lovely; appearing sound of both mind and body. Due to the over and/or in-breeding in the US, I rarely (almost never!!!) see a Doberman I like!

    Back to the regular scheduled program.
    Chris Misita
    www.hiddenvalleyfarms.net Home of Bravo and Warrick!
    To dare; progress comes at this price. All sublime conquests are, more or less, the rewards of daring.
    Victor Hugo



  13. #13
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    May. 4, 2003
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    Canada
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    We had a Doberman pup who was diagnosed with wobbler syndrome. The vet said that while it was not common, Dobermans were more likely than other breeds to have it.

    I have a mre that was also diagnosed with wobbler syndrome when she was young. The vets spotted it because she had difficulty making a turn in a narrow aislway.... however, I
    had never noticed anything amiss. I had a chiro look at her and she has never looked back and is now l3 years old. If something was pinching her, he fixed it.



  14. #14
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    Sep. 26, 2008
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    Friends have an appointment for Sept 15th with a specialist to get further information.
    Proud Momma:

    Imax - Fresstyle x Juventus x Rubinstein
    2014 - Sister to IMAX (hopefully)



  15. #15
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    Apr. 14, 2001
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    Fort Collins, CO
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    I have a horse with neurological impairment due to bony changes in the cervical spine, diagnosed via nuclear scintigraphy, radiographs and a neuro exam when she was 9. She is off the track and I do not have a history on her going back farther than the few years I've owned her.

    Her issues were mild and managed for about 6 months with steroid injections into the facet joints on both sides of the neck. She went lame (did not track evenly behind) at about the 6 month mark and repeat injections did not provide the same response.

    She's now retired. She's not in pain--she is NOT stoic at all and would let me know if she hurt--she she is not normal behind and does not track evenly. I believe the next step would be Bagby Basket surgery, which is not something I'm willing to do--cost-wise or putting the horse through it - wise.

    Feel free to PT me if you'd like more info. It's been quite the ride.



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