EPM and Metabolic Challenges: Time’s Story

It seems that some horses are just dealt a difficult hand in life.  ‘Time’, a 21-year-old Morgan gelding owned by Linda Clark, is one such horse.  During his lifetime, Time has been diagnosed with five different serious conditions.  But thanks to Linda’s dedication and careful attention to his diet, Time has recovered from his conditions and is doing well today.  I’m honored to feature him as ‘The Naturally Healthy Horse of the Month’ for March!

 

time pulling cart

 

Time was born at Linda’s farm, but had a rough start in the world– he had to be separated from his mother at just two weeks old after the mare had been diagnosed with Theiler’s Disease (acute hepatitis).

When Time was six years old, Linda noticed some strange problems when she was riding him.  “His front leg would feel like his knee went out–this happened about 12 times in 2 1/2 miles.  He never fell though–just kept walking,” she said.   Linda had her vet draw blood and he was diagnosed with EPM (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis).  He was on medication for a month and his condition improved.  But three months later, he began showing the same symptoms once again.  He was medicated for another month and has not shown front end problems since.

A few years later, Linda noticed the gelding was now tripping in the hind end though.  She took him to her vet again and blood work revealed that he was deficient in selenium and also had hypothyroidism.  He was started on thyroid medication and a selenium supplement.

 

Time

 

But only a year later, Time began experiencing even more problems.  “He didn’t act right,” Linda said.  “He was very spooky and light-sensitive.  One day, he just stopped while being ridden. I let him rest about five minutes and then he would start walking again.  After doing this about 4-5 times, he just laid down.”

Linda remembers it being a very hot day when this happened and she thought the heat was the problem, but then he did the same thing the next day when it was cooler.  She took him to two different vets that summer but they couldn’t find what might be causing this.

Still hoping to find an answer, Linda took him to a different clinic where he was finally diagnosed with EPSM (Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy).  Linda was advised to change his diet again, this time adding rice bran oil, alfalfa pellets, as well as a selenium and vitamin E supplement.  Time soon began showing improvement on his new diet.

In the following years, Linda still worried about Time’s health though.  Despite her best efforts, he was still overweight.  Linda decided to take him off of pasture and keep him in a dry lot with hay as his main source of forage.

When Time was 19, Linda became convinced that something was definitely wrong with Time once again.  His hair coat had become course and he had developed a cresty neck as well as fat deposits on his rump.  He also had swelling in his sheath.  More blood work revealed that he had Cushing’s Disease as well as Equine Metabolic Syndrome.

 

time cresty neck

Time’s cresty neck

 

Linda began soaking his hay to reduce the sugar content and also added ground chaste tree berry to his diet.  The fat pockets on Time’s neck and rump went down as well as the swelling in his sheath.  Linda also noted that the rings in his hooves also disappeared after starting on the chaste berry.

Today, even at 21, Time’s conditions are being managed successfully and he is doing quite well.  “He is doing great and has nice weight,” she said.  Linda is preparing to get him back in shape for riding season.  She starts by ponying him to build his muscles up before riding him each year.   “He loves to go!”

And no matter what, Time has a forever home with Linda.  “He will never be sold or given away,” she said.  “This is his home and where he was born.”

Thanks for sharing Time’s story with us, Linda!  Hopefully others can learn something from it.  

 

Casie

Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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9 Responses

  1. Linda Clark says:

    Thanks for doing Time’s story.
    Horses have many problems that are never found.
    A few people would say it’s just a horse.
    I say it’s my family.

    • then5925 says:

      You are welcome, Linda! Glad to do it. I’m right there with you too–my horses are family to me as well. 🙂

  2. Vicki L Ciepiela says:

    Casie.. I love it that Linda has enough dedication to Time to take such good care of him. That is my way of thinking also… “Whatever it takes”! All my animals stay with me until death do us part, however long it may be. I love them all. Thank you for your inspiring post! 🙂 Vicki

  3. Lovely story – thanks for sharing.

    A testament to patience and ongoing thought with multi dimensional issues, and also how not to give up if you think things are not ‘right’. Each time I read this story I catch another aspect and hopefully others will too.

  4. I have “recovered” a mare which is now in my property. Diana, was poor when I got here 2 years ago, her weight was prob down by a quarter of what it should be and she was the “cat” of the herd, spooky, ill-tempered and very independent not by her own wish but by the management done to her over the previous years.

    You see, we all have personalities, horses have them too only a great majority of the so called “horse-people” no matter how great they are as a person, do not understand this.

    It took me a while to figure Diana out, a lot of observation and try and error, a lot of errors, I though: lets pamper the crap out of her because this is what she needs. Wrong, she only need my help to fit in with the herd, nice and quietly, she need what no other horse in my herd was keen to provide, a way in.

    I like to consider myself the boss of my herd, I know I´m not don’t worry, Violeta is – she is my soul sister and lets me play the boss sometimes only to a certains points tell me off for being to eager on the whole whisperer thing – but if there is one thing I´m good at is to introduce new animals to the herd because unlike in other areas of my life I understand the patience required and I add more.

    After 6 months, Diana was in, found her place and thanked me for that. Her riding improved, her stamina improved – also she put on about 200pounds which gave her a brand new look, looking fit in a herd is half way though some positive recognition by fellow members.

    Glad Time is doing ok, he still has donkey years to be happy. Good luck!

  5. B. Bagley says:

    BoyHowdy, this hits home. I’ve got an 18-yr-old Morgan gelding who looked like that last pic when I got him 3 years ago. Prompt change to grass diet and low-starch pellets helped. Grass-foundered when he was young but not so’s you’d know it now except for barely-noticeable ridges. Went through a period of stumbling but came out of it. Now showing a wariness to shadows when riding/driving at dust when before he’s always been fearless. Am going to try the selenium/vit E/chaste tree berry regimen. Thanks. Am about to pick up a similar 13-yr-old Morgan gelding who’s ~150-200 lbs overweight and real cresty, so maybe here we go all over again!

    • Kim M says:

      Hi, Can you give me more info on the selenium/vit E/chaste tree berry regimen? One of my horses has a thyroid condition and is on thyro-l. He has a huge crested neck and I have been trying to manage his weight. I have never heard of the chaste tree regimen and would like to know more about it.
      Thanks!

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