Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Windy and Cold With Three Horses

I spent a good bit of time on the phone this morning talking to various vets on the phone.  This included Dr. Ellison from Florida, who's the lead research on the new testing and treatment clinical trials for horses with EPM that I mentioned in my prior post.  We've ordered the treatments for Pie and Drifter - 10 days of pasting with Oroquin-10 - a formulated mixture of decoquinate and levamisole (an immune system stimulant) - plus a 90-day follow-up decoquinate feed additive in a lower dose.  We had some question about whether Pie should receive levamisole considering his weird immune system responses recently, and Dr. Ellison recommended we go ahead as it should be safe for him, so that's what we're doing.  I've updated my regular vet, and also have a call in to the vets at U. Wisconsin to update them.

We're hoping to start both Pie and Drifter on their treatments on Friday morning.  I'm instructed to give them prophylactic Banamine starting on the evening of day two and running through the morning of day five, to deal with any inflammation that is caused by EPM organisms dying in response to treatment.  I'm also not to ride them during that period, or any other time where they don't feel right - neurological symptoms may worsen for a time during days 3 to 5 of treatment.  I'm keeping fingers crossed that this will do the trick for both of them on the neurological issues, and fingers double crossed for Pie that this will prove to be the cause of his digestive problems.

I rode all three horses today, despite the wind and cold - I kept telling my self that in January this would be considered a balmy day - the wind chill was in the low 40s and it was threatening to drizzle for most of my riding time.  Despite the wind and cold, all three horses were excellent.

Dawn is now a barefoot girl.  She lost a shoe yesterday, and I decided to have our farrier remove the remaining front shoe.  I don't ride her on the trail, with its very hard surfaces and rocks, and she should cope well in the pastures and sand arena.  For a thoroughbred that's probably been in shoes since she got her first racing plates put on around 18 months old, she's got pretty nice feet - I should take some pictures. Her frogs and caudal structures are well-developed in her hinds, and she's got decent concavity in those hinds - she's been barefoot behind for a number of years.  The fronts are pretty well-shaped and the angles are good and her heels aren't under run, but the soles lack concavity, the sulci are not as deep as they should be, and her heels aren't as well-developed as they should be and are somewhat contracted.  I had my farrier just take off the shoe - no trimming at this point.  We'll let her feet adjust and grow a bit and begin to build new frogs and heels before any trimming.  She's completely sound barefoot, even walking on concrete, so I rode her at the walk in the arena for a bit.  We also worked on some of our lateral work - turn on the haunches, turn on the forehand and side pass.  And we also did some mounting work - after being a horse who reliably stood still for mounting, she'd developed an odd habit of taking a step (or more) backwards when I put a foot in the stirrup.  I worked with her on this for a bit, circling her around the mounting block when she didn't stand, and praising her when she did, starting with just putting my foot in the stirrup and not mounting.  She figured it out - Dawn always figures things out - and stood very nicely.  We'll see if that sticks.

Drifter was next.  He was very calm and responsive.  His walk work was fine and he felt good at the walk.  Not so good at the trot - I'd describe him as "funky" behind - just plain weird - and it was significantly worse than the day before, so we only did a little bit of walk/trot/walk transition work.  I checked him over for any signs of injury or swelling - absolutely nothing - his legs were tight and cold all the way up and it's not a hoof issue.  I suspect the EPM is the cause of this odd hind end weirdness.  We also did some work on turn on the haunches, turn on the forehand and side pass - he did excellently on all three in both directions.

Pie came next.  We had a short arena session with some nice walk and trot work - he was moving out pretty well and the trot was nice and even.  We also did our lateral work - turn on the haunches, turn on the forehand and side pass - and he was excellent too - all three horses did great at this today.  Then we took a brief trail excursion.  I did get a call from our p.m. barn lady that he seemed to be having a bit of a digestive issue - he was standing in his paddock not eating with his ears back, and pinned his ears and shook his head at her when she went to check on him - but a few minutes later he was back eating again at his hay, which means he was feeling better.  I'll be going by the barn later to do a bed check and will see then how he's doing.

Despite the cold, wind and threatening rain, it was a good day with horses.


  1. I truly thank you for sharing this. I mentioned this at my barn and they are interested in hearing about this new treatment. I'm glad you had a nice "balmy" ride. :)

  2. It does sound like a good day with all three horses. I'm sure with their treatments Drifter and Pie will start feeling better soon. Fingers crossed for all of you.

  3. You and your horses are truly amazing!
    Hopefully the treatment will get you boys back to normal. Isn't it something that all this can be going on in their bodies and they are still able to carry on. Please keep us posted. We all care about them.

  4. I'll be thinking of you and your horses - best of luck with the treatment.

  5. Levamisole is fascinating stuff. We used it years ago to treat our horses for what appeared to be heaves. (Ultimately some question as to exactly what was going on....) The drug was then just a sheep wormer. It triggered a change in the immune/allergy reactions and cured both horses.

    Since then, it has been used experimentally with AIDS treatment as well. I will be very interested to find out more about its impact on EPM.

    Wishing you well and speedy recoveries for your sweet boys.

  6. Hooray for barefoot Dawn. I'd love to see some pictures of her hooves. I hope the treatment goes well for the boys, as well.


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