Friday, December 04, 2020

Rehabbing the EPM Horse/ Update on Keil Bay

 Keil Bay begins his third month of Marquis today. He’s on 8000 ius of vitamin E, reduced from 10,000 as I felt he was a little spooky and that can be one side effect of too much E, and both Equioxx and Duralactin for inflammation (and since he’s 31, for mild arthritic issues). I added Smooth Run Equine’s Challenge supplement, which is bovine colostrum + mushroom extracts to assist with immune system support, per a research study I found online. This combo had a very good positive outcome rate for horses with EPM, and Keil is doing well on it. He often looks totally normal, but there are still days when he sticks one of his hind legs out to the side when standing, and days when he comes in and leans against the barn wall to rest. 

At 31, it’s hard to tell what is neurological and what is normal aging, with some of the more minor symptoms, and I know with my own aging body that healing and recovery from simple things (like the slip and fall I did on a plastic syrup bag in the apiary) can take longer than when I was young. So I am trying hard not to stress but to follow my daughter’s wise advice - let him live his life. Do the things I can do, watch for problems and signs that he’s unhappy, but don’t let my own desire for everything to be perfect make me think he’s not. 

He is turning out normally now, and has been for a month or so, and the hills in our main pastures offer a daily PT exercise for him. Going up and down the gentle slopes is, I think, good for him, and when I researched rehab exercises for neurological deficits in horses, one of the common ones recommended is to hand walk the horse up and down gentle hills. So he is getting that every day, on his own volition, with his herd, and I think it’s the best medicine I can offer.

This week we have started some additional rehab/PT with him, to see if we can help with the leg sticking out issue. He looks the best when he’s moving - at the walk, trot, and canter, which he does off and on during the days of turn out. It’s always when he stands that I see his symptoms. The proprioception piece, which is a big part of EPM - his brain seems not to be always able to tell his hind legs where to go. So I brainstormed some exercise we can do that might help rebuild that. We started yesterday, and my husband is helping, as it’s easier to do and observe with two people. 

We took Keil in the arena with halter and lead rope, hoof pick and hoof brush, and his favorite Red Bird peppermints. I did the walking, at first going around the arena as if we were warming up for a ride, but with me obviously on the ground. After a few circuits I stopped randomly and had Keil adjust his feet as needed so that my husband could lift one leg and clean that hoof. 

My hope was that the muscle memory of Keil getting his feet picked, and knowing where his feet normally rest for that, might be engaged, and combined with the forward movement that he’s already doing well, we could make some progress toward a more normal stance, more of the time. Rebuilding those neural pathways. At the same time we’re working on his balance for hoof cleaning and trimming. 

It went very well, and I made this up myself, so we’ll see how it goes. After we did all four hooves, we did some large circles and a couple of smaller ones, following the dressage patterns he’s done most of his life, which again, I hope might help engage brain/nervous system/muscle communication. 

Near the end we put a ground pole down and walked over it from both directions. He navigated that perfectly and he seemed quite happy to get his peppermints and do this bit of focused work. We’re starting with 10 or so minutes. I want to engage the nerves and muscles but I do not want to push into fatigue. 

For more info on rehabbing EPM horses, there’s a nice article HERE.

I’ve also ordered a book that uses Linda Tellington Jones’ T-touch exercises specifically for rehabbing neurologic deficits. I’m eager to apply these when the book arrives, as I’ve used her exercises in the past for other things and found them very helpful.

For an overall picture of what we’re tracking with Keil, his vets are pulling CBC panels regularly, as the anti-protozoa meds can be hard on the system, and also to insure the Equioxx is not taxing his kidneys. So far he’s normal. 

Because he tested into PPID range in October (even factoring in seasonal rise), he’s now on 1 mg Prascend and his PPID came down to normal since he tapered onto the full dose. We’ll keep an eye on his ACTH level and adjust the Prascend as needed. 

He’s also getting acupuncture once a month (and more frequently if I think he needs it), plus he’s back to his chiro adjustments and his hoof trims. 

And finally, I also have him on homeopathic remedies for both PPID and EPM. I’m coming at this from every angle and while I will have no idea which thing is helping the most, or not helping at all, my goal is to get the best outcome possible for him. 

I’ll update as we go. And I have to say thank you to his entire treatment team, which includes four vets and my husband and daughter, and his herd. Cody is a best friend he literally leans on if needed, and Redford has become a constant companion who stands near Keil Bay no matter what. We’re lucky to have Keil Bay and he’s lucky to have all of us! 


Grey Horse Matters said...

I honestly don't think you could be doing more for him than you are. I'm sure he appreciates all the care, attention and love he is getting from all of you and his herd. I think your daughter is very wise when she says let him live his life. He's a happy well-loved horse and he knows it and day to day he does live the best life he can with you all.

billie said...

Thank you, A - this afternoon he was moving less well than he had been earlier today, but regardless, he seemed to be up for the PT time and we’ll keep rolling. It’s hard not knowing what is happening when his movement deteriorates some. My daughter is wiser than I am in a lot of ways!