September 15, 2011

EPM again? Or something else?

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Since June, I’ve noticed little things about Isis that didn’t seem right: she was dragging the tips of her back hooves, she was reluctant to trot or move out, and her regular spirited playfulness was gone except for rare occasions. It’s easy to right off these symptoms to other items. Maybe it was too hot out and she wasn’t having a good day. Maybe the rain rot on her legs made her stiff or lame.

Two things made me very worried. Isis has been dragging her toes enough that she has worn the back hooves square (where they should be rounded). She has also been losing muscle tone faster than I’ve ever seen her. We haven’t changed her grain or supplements. Normally, she might lose some muscling along her back but nothing like this.

In June, Isis looked awesome. We were riding regularly and she was doing very well. Her movement was good. No dragging her toes. She even started doing self-carriage when we rode. Her back was rounded and muscled beautifully. Once the temperature went up, Isis had trouble until she adapted to the heat.

Over the course of the summer, I noticed Isis’ muscling along her back started to deteriorate. In August, the little things started coming up. For the past two trim with the farrier, Isis’ back feet have been almost squared from where she has been dragging the tips of her hooves in the dirt when she walks and trots. She doesn’t get herself underneath herself as much as she used to. Towards the end of August, she also started tripping consistently. Since the middle of August, instead of a trip maybe once a month or once per week, the trips have been almost every ride.

The worst day was August 24. When we freelunged, she dragged her feet at the walk and was reluctant to trot. She wouldn’t stay in a trot when prompted. When I asked her to back, she didn’t want to back. Normally, her cues are very light: Say the word back and she moves back. Point to her shoulder and she moves back quickly. On August 24, she didn’t back when asked. She would only take a step or two back while I was on her. I dismounted and had to push her nose back to ask her to back. She moved her legs back one at a time, carefully, like she wasn’t sure where she was placing them. She did not back straight. The second step back when she moved her left leg back and seemed to fall back to the right.

On August 25, Isis seemed to be okay. She backed up relatively smoothly. She seemed aware of her feet, but was not as fluid as she normally is. When she moved, she did but she did trip a little. In September, she has been dragging her toes more often. When I ride her, I can feel her losing steps on her back legs. She does it more often when she’s tired, but also some times when I first mount.

Last week on Monday, the barn manager and I compared notes. We both agreed that Isis has been tripping more. Her attitude has been different. She hasn’t nickered at me as often as she used to. (She still nickers at feeding time.)

Yesterday I went out to the barn to capture baseline images of Isis, including video of her moving and pictures of her body and hooves. My vet is coming out to the barn on Friday to draw blood for an EPM test. We’re hoping to enter her in a study of Oroquin-10 that sounds very promising (more on that in another post).

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