Saturday, May 14, 2011

PSSM and Quarter Horses

Pie is doing well since coming off grass - although he's not happy being separated from his herd - his feet are cool and he looks pretty sound and his muscles are no longer tight and cramped. Pie will be tested on Monday for his insulin and thyroid levels, as those can affect metabolism and cause foot soreness.  Low thyroid, which can be caused by, among other things, certain funguses that proliferate in grasses with low temperatures and profuse rainfall like we've had, can cause metabolic issues that lead to foot soreness. Another possible cause of his stiffness, sweating and muscle cramping could be PSSM  - polysaccharide storage myopathy - which is a genetic disease that is a cause of such symptoms in a small but significant percentage of Quarter Horses.  Tying up type symptoms can be caused by many different things in different horse breeds, but PSSM is a particular issue in Quarter Horses, apparently in three undisclosed bloodlines - why undisclosed? can someone explain to me why a breed would conceal information like this?  Here is a very interesting case study of a QH with PSSM.

There is now apparently a blood or hair root test for this - see this information from the University of Minnesota - a muscle biopsy isn't necessary to test for PSSM, but if it comes back negative a muscle biopsy may still be required. The good news is that PSSM can be treated in most horses that have it - a combination of a higher fat diet - rice bran, flax seed and additional oils - cocosoya, which we already use, and L-Carnitine, which is needed for the transport of fatty acids within cells.

I'm hoping we have some answers soon to Pie's issues.


  1. Best of luck for Pie! He's such a nice horse who seems to have found his forever home. I hope it works out to be the simplest and easiest thing for both of you to manage.

  2. I hope you find a simple solution for Pie. As for the AQHA not disclosing bloodlines..... I am not surprised - they lied about Impressive for years and years.... and they promote horse slaughter. They are not an association that is good for horses.

  3. I'll add my good wishes for Pie's return to health. I'm sure you'll manage it beautifully Kate - Pie is one lucky horse :)

    Re the Aqha - to elaborate on Barbara's comment - not only do they promote horse slaughter - they promote the indiscriminate overbreeding that leads to horse slaughter. Not my favorite breed organization to be sure.

  4. Hope Pie is doing well...poor guy.

  5. Pie is lucky to have you to be so concerned and willing to do whatever it takes to help him be healthy.

    Here's hoping that Pie's health is an easy path for him and you to travel.


  6. Honestly, I think most of those breeders were just following the money and treating horses like objects. Otherwise why would HYPP and PSSM still exist?

    Meanwhile those of us who have horses with genetic conditions must remain ever vigilant.

  7. One thing about the AQHA - they are funding research on PSSM. I don't know if that's out of the goodness of their hearts or to keep a handle on what info gets published, but I'm glad someone is willing to fund it. I think there are a lot of undiagnosed horses out there getting a bad rap for their attitudes, bucking, incoordination, etc, who are not bad horses - just in pain because they have the disease.

    Kate, I just got your comment on my blog, and yes, Tonka does have PSSM. I call it EPSM because that's what I've always called it, but it's the same thing. My sister also has a horse (QH) with the disorder. I recommend joining the EPSM group on Yahoo and reading their files. I'm trying their alternative approach with no fat and acetyl l-carnitine (as opposed to high fat and l-carnitine). Tonka went off his feed and refuses to eat the high fat diet anymore. This is working for us now. I hope Pie doesn't have it, but if he does at least it's manageable. You just have to be really dedicated to conditioning him correctly along with the diet.

    Oh, and the reason for the different tests - hair/blood or biopsy, is that there are two types of PSSM. Tonka had the type that could be diagnosed with just the hair, luckily. The biopsy looks painful but I've read accounts from people who have had it done and they say it isn't that big a deal.

    Good luck!

  8. Very interesting. Undisclosed ? sounds a bit weird, maybe they aren't actually able to narrow the feild yet?
    Whatever it turns out to be I hope you are able to resolve it for Pie, he is such a good horse for you

  9. Horses are such complex creatures. We can never learn enough. Hope Pie thrives soon.

  10. Andrea said what I was going to say so I won't repeat it - I'll add that Eleanor Kellon teaches a class that deals with this entire issue. It's worth taking if you have a horse living with this.

    I did try using coconut oil initially and did not get the results I got as I took him off that and added in the ALCAR.

    If you join the list or take the class, you'll also read about some additional things you can do to help manage this disorder.

  11. It's so unfair that the AQHA won't disclose the bloodlines. It would be helpful knowing if your horse is genetically inclined towards PSSM.

    Hope you get it sorted out quickly.

  12. interesting case study. did you note the shape of his rump? deb bennett talked about this, it can be an indicator of a horse who is compensating for pain in the front end. there was a time when baasha had this "double bump" too but not anymore. my half QH endurance mare had such hard muscles all the time it worried some ride vets.

    p.s. i love your "book end" chestnuts. are they exactly the same shade of red in real life?

  13. lytha - Pie's rump was "humped up" when he was having his attack - normally it's a smooth curve and now it's pretty much back to normal.

    Yes, they are the same deep red chestnut shade, although if you see them together, Pie is taller and narrower than Drift, and has a longer neck and body.

  14. I didn't know PSSM was the same as EPSM. I had a friend whose horse had it (PSSM), as did the stallion she was out of. They probably know a lot more about it now than they did then. I hope this isn't the case for Pie.

  15. So glad that Pie is feeling better after being taken off of pasture. I can imagine he doesn't think it's a good solution though!

    He's so lucky to have such a devoted human to watch out for his best interests!

  16. Very interesting article about the quarter horse with PSSM... thanks for sharing! I didn't know much about the disease until I read your posts. Hopefully your boy doesn't have this issue... but the up-side is that it sounds like it's highly-manageable with the proper diet, supplement, and exercise program.

  17. I have just purchased a gorgeous but hind end lame Paint at auction to keep him from going to the killers. I'm BETTING he's a PSSM case so I would like any and all information on support groups etc. (e0mail Note that I've already mined the U of Minnesota website and Dr. Kellon's. If my hunch turns out to be correct, I will definitely be looking into taking her class .. am assuming it is offered online? Thanks and wish me luck with Mr. Second Chance! :-)


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