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What to do with Gracie...

Overall she is doing quite well after her EPM treatment. The ataxia in the right hind is gone, and she is starting to get strength back to do work. She is moving to her new home one week from today and I think she will like it a lot.


The spooking and erratic behavior is not getting any better. I am really starting to think that it all links back to the EPM.
She was not spooky when I got her...nor was she after her first round with EPM.
It has only been in the last 6-8 months that she got spooky and stupid when riding. Probably around the time the EPM started to come back but it was too subtle to tell.
Yet all the other signs are gone and the spookiness remains.

She is jumpy in the cross ties, jumpy when you lead her around, jumpy on the lunge, jumpy when your mounting, and jumpy when you are riding. It never stops. And if you try to correct her or even try to stop her from looking at the "scary things" she gets even worse.
This goes WAY beyond a horse that is trying to get out of work.
She seems completely scared and afraid of whatever she has seen. Ride past a scary thing, she bolts, get her back, circle to go past it again with her head turned to the inside so she cant see...total panic attack.
On the ground she will freak and spin around you. Try doing ground work to get her to listen to you and she freaks. She has even started to rear on the ground cause she is so upset.
Her eyes don't show a pissy, annoyed horse, they show a scared horse.

Knowing what I know as a LVT, and from research I have been doing EPM horses have been found on necropsy to have brain lesions. They suspect that this could cause not only physical symptoms seen in horses but also mental/behavioral ones too.
My concern is that she has had brain lesions from the EPM and it is affecting whatever center of the brain that spookiness comes from.
If she is totally better in every other way except this does this mean she won't improve?? I am stuck with a horse that is irrational about spooking?
Someone else also mentioned that EPM can affect the optic nerve. So I wonder if her sight isn't restricted and she is being spooky due to not being able to see well!

I am to the point I am almost afraid to ride her. Just cause she is not herself and unpredictable. And when she spooks she either leaps sideways or bolts forward...both usually result in her throwing in a buck if she can. I am just lucky she has yet to get me off. Thing is I am okay with coming off, but she literally starts shaking at times if you push her and try to ride her through it. She feels like a ticking time bomb of fear.

I have a trainer coming out to work with her on Wednesday. She is a friend and a client of mine so I know she is a quiet and fair rider. If anyone can help she can. I have told her what is going on and she is fine with seeing how things go.
The vet is also coming out Monday for her coggins and teeth float. I am going to ask him what he thinks since he has been the one treating Gracie this time around.

But really I am wondering if this is not a sign that the EPM has left its marks on Gracie and it is not fair for her to keep her as a riding horse. It is frustrating that it might be a mental problem and not a physical one that takes her out to pasture for retirement. But I want to be fair to her and me both. I have put my riding on the back burner for years now because of her and the EPM.
I mean I can easily ride 1st/2nd level dressage, but I have been stuck at Intro level cause of her. I don't mind if it means one day I can get her to where I can do higher levels. But I don't want to beat my head into the wall anymore if it means in a year I decide to retire her anyways. And risk getting hurt in that time from this behavior.

Any thoughts or suggestions??? I am at a loss and too emotional about it to even think straight.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 23rd, 2013 08:29 pm (UTC)
take a deep breath, I know exactly how you feel.

have your vet do bloodwork and test her vitamin E / selenium levels. if those are low, they can cause a lot of spookiness.

also check her eyes.

I don't know enough about EPM to comment on the brain legions but I'm sure the vet will know something about it.

hugs to you...:(
Feb. 23rd, 2013 08:48 pm (UTC)
I doubt it is Vit E/selenium deficiency as she is on a high dose Vit E, that includes a safe dose of selenium.

I will talk with him especially about the eyes.

Just so frustrating and I just want to cry. I want my horse back.
Feb. 24th, 2013 12:37 am (UTC)
oh crap. *big hugs*

you are a kind and thoughtful owner to be consciously aware of all these other effects of EPM and what it can do to your horse. if it was me, i would want to know for sure what was going on in her head, so some vet visits would be good. you've had her a long time & know her well. you're the best judge of it.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )