Friday, June 6, 2014

Red is Soundest . . .

It's 7+ weeks since Red's surgery.  He's doing very well, and his rehab is inching along.  We started our walk rides about 4 weeks ago, and we've made it up to about 8 minutes of trotting, in several sets, in our rides.  He's been on aspirin for two days now, and our last two rides he's felt the best he's been.

Just by chance, my regular vet, who has a really good eye for lameness issues, happened to be at our barn seeing other horses today.  She happened to walk through the arena while Red and I were working, and said that although he was taking a very slightly shorter stride with his left hind, that he looked very, very good.  And he felt really good - he was willing and forward, and happy.

After we make it up to 10 minutes of trotting, which should happen next week, and then do that for a week, Red will be ready to join his pasture friends in turnout.  I'll start hand grazing him when we hit 10 minutes of trotting, and work his grazing slowly up to one hour.  Then, when we get to a week of 10 minutes of trotting, he can have some sedation and join his friends for one hour of turnout on the pasture - the grass will distract everyone.  Over a week or two, he'll work back up to full day turnout.  Pie will have to wait to go on the grass until July - he's had grass sensitivity - sore feet - two years in a row, and there's no reason to take chances.

I've heard it said that a horse who is rehabbing should take as long to rehab as the horse has been out of work - in Red's case that's about right.  Taking it slowly, and backing off when things aren't going as well as they should, really pays off in the long run, I believe.

Oddly enough, Red is my soundest riding horse at the moment.  Both Dawn and Pie are still coping with inflammatory reactions to their vaccinations, due to their prior cases of EPM.  Red seems less affected.  Dawn and Pie both have slight weakness in one hind leg - right hind in both cases - and their gaits are slightly abnormal at the trot - not really lame or off but irregular.  Dawn and I aren't doing any trotting until she's sound again, due to her low hind pasterns, but Pie's able to trot around fairly happily, although we're not chancing canter, and he's no longer crabby, which is great.  Both Dawn and Pie are on 2-week treatments with levamisole to help dampen down their neurological reactions, and we believe they should be good to go by the end of their treatments.

I'm just happy to have three former EPM horses who have made such excellent recoveries, but it does take careful monitoring for unusual effects from stress or immune challenges such as vaccinations.


  1. It sounds like Red is doing great and the others are coming along as well. It does take a long time to do rehab right but the results are well worth it.

  2. Just curious, would you consider not vaccinating? Are there any vaccines you could do say every 2 years instead of yearly?

    1. Good question. I do what I consider essential vaccinations - E/W encephalitis and West Nile, both of which exist in our area, and my horses are exposed to lots of mosquitos. Also tetanus, an essential. I used to do flu/rhino and Potomac, but don't anymore (although I've done Pneumabort when there's a nearby EHV outbreak). And I do rabies - my horses are in pasture turnout and there are lots of cribbers, and rabies exists in my area.

      I try to minimize the effects of vaccination immune responses on my EPM horses by spreading them out and by using vaccine brands that have a history of low reactivity. Pie seems to react to almost anything, with either a fever or mild EPM symptoms, and Dawn seems to have reacted to the rabies vaccine.

      The question of whether vaccinations have to be done every year is an open one to which the vets don't have answers. I believe more studies have been done in dogs than in horses as to the multi-year effectiveness of vaccines. It would be great if we could move in that direction at some point.

    2. I meant to say lots of "critters", not "cribbers", although there are a lot of those too!

    3. I asked because this post on Facebook form Riva's Remedies came to my attention- here is the quote: "Withdrawing annual vaccinations in horses improves immune function, reduces inflammation in the hooves, and avoids serious neurologic side-effects. Most vaccines last at least seven years in horses, and some protect for a lifetime. Tomas Teskey, DVM. Courtesy of The Horse's Hoof - Spring 2014 - Issue 54."

    4. Shirley - I'd be interested to see the studies that show that - my vet/chiro, who is very holistic, says there are very few studies in horses as there is no motivation on the part of big pharma to conduct them - it requires challenging test horses with the disease and some of the diseases are fatal (like rabies). If there are studies, send them along - we'd all be interested. In the absence of studies, I'd be very reluctant to reduce vaccinations for serious diseases - it's likely the vaccinations last longer than a year but I'd need to see proof rather than anecdotal evidence for something that could result in death or serious damage to my horses.


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