Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Year Post EPM

Roughly a year ago, Stinker was coming up kind of sort of lame.  He just wasn't acting right (aka he was acting like a normal horse and was happy to walk).  It was very subtle and I was at my wits end, because the vet had been out multiple times and we had done various things, but nothing was working.  When Stinker failed the neurologic test and the vet told me he had EPM and we needed to start treatment immediately.  I was shaken, but hopeful since the vet was very confident that Stinker would recover because we had caught it early.

Not quite right Stinker

As the weeks went by and more and more treatments happened without the bounce back the vet predicted we both were getting more and more worried.  I didn't know if I was ever going to be able to ride my horse again and I was feeling horribly guilty considering that the stress of moving was most likely the reason his immune system was compromised enough that he was susceptible.  He had a top line when D brought him down and all of it wasted away.  He lost weight and quite frankly looked like crap.  His coat was getting dull and he was quite ribby.  I have pictures from that time, but most of them are from odd angles where you can't see his condition all that well.

This wasn't even the worst that he looked.

I have refused to tally up all my vet bills that were directly due to the EPM, but the only non EPM related bills have been routine shots three times.  Right now my vet bill total is sitting right over three grand, so I am estimating the cost of the EPM and relating issues to be just under three grand.  You know double what I paid for the little Stinker...

Pre EPM chunky Stinker

I was able to start riding him at the very end of July.  We started off with very short rides (one or two a week for about ten minutes) and they were terrible.  He was totally panicked and I didn't know how to deal.  Luckily, I started doing the video lessons with D shortly afterwards because I knew I was in over my head and S was struggling as much as I was.  These video lessons have been invaluable to us.  For the rest of the year we muddled along struggling with saddle fit and some other issues.

December was my next big bummer.  I thought we had been making really good progress, but my favorite dressage judge grounded us.  Well not really, but she did suggest that we take several steps back and Stinker should be shod all around (good bye money) to help support his hind end.  The only good thing was I got my dressage saddle and it was a huge game changer.  Stinker was comfortable and willing to try more.  He had been trying but the ill fitting saddle was feeding into the panicking.  I was really bummed because I wanted to be moving forward not backwards, but I followed the advice and we started making huge steps forward.

Hello Precious, you are the best thing ever!

I am so happy with the way Stinker looks.  He is sleek, shiny, and is building muscle in the correct places.  Yes his neck is still upside down and it is going to take quite some time to fix that, but he is building top line and his booty is getting better.  My plan moving forward is to keep working at the walk on the hills until I can get his trot consistent enough in the ring that I feel confident that I can move that outside the ring.  I am going to start doing one day where we work up in the stadium field and do ground poles.

Much better wight and getting the muscle back in the correct places

Right now our work schedule is six days a week, because he feels like crap after the day off.  Some weeks he does get two days off due to work or rain, but I try really hard to work him six days a week.  We have three or four days of walking on the hills (mostly working on bending and stretching, but I have been adding in some leg yielding).  Two days in the ring (one video lesson and one lesson with S).  These are usually the "hard" days where I try to really push buttons and we trot.  Then the flex day is when I lunge him.  I don't do this a lot, but I do like to do it so I can canter him and see where it is at.  I want to get him to where he is strong enough to have a nice balanced canter on the lunge before I add that back.  I am also betting that I will be solid at the trot by then.

So much walking.

As much as I hate that Stinker had EPM and we had to go through all of that, I do think it actually helped our partnership.  I have learned so much from this whole experience.  He has made me a better rider and hopefully we can keep growing together.

The one selfie I have managed to take in the billion attempts.

14 comments:

  1. Awwww that selfie tho!!! EPM really sucks, not much else to say about it. Stinker is lucky to have you tho and you are making excellent progress with him. Here's to continued success!!

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    1. Haha! Usually he is whacking me in the face and I'm looking goofy...
      And thank you :)

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  2. Aww! He's so cute. I'm so glad he's back on the upswing, EPM is nasty!

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    1. Thanks and I am too. It feels a bit like a time warp some times.

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  3. im soooo happy he is doing better! My trainers first upper level horse had it which ultimately made him retire him (dont panic yet there is a positive ending!)...he had a few young ones he focused on. BUT this retired horse is fit as a fiddle and in our lesson program now happily carting kids around and still kicking up his heels when he feels good (mostly when we take him xc schooling).

    Stinker looks sooo much better now and way more comfortable! Im so glad you found the answer and on your way to greatness!

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    1. I'm not panicking. I realized that there will be lasting effects (quick to lose muscle with time off etc) and that may limit us but he is a fun horse and I am going to enjoy seeing where we can go.

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  4. Hey there!! We have a couple of the same issues, building muscle and needing lessons. What are these video lessons you speak of? How does that work? Can the general public send a submission? I'm glad your boy is coming along nicely, keep up the good work!!

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    1. The video lessons are with my old trainer. She moved and I moved then I had her pick out and ride Stinker for 2.5 months to get him started. I'm more than happy to give you more details if you want to shoot me an email (eventing.saddlebred.style at gmail)

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  5. Wow, you really have made some great progress but what a journey. Good thing he is so cute!

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    1. Oh yes that face has saved him several times. :)
      And thank you. The journey has made me really appreciate the progress.

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  6. That is definitely a lot to go through as a horse owner and I am glad to read that stinker is doing so well!

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    1. Yeah it was a rough first year but he is worth it.

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  7. I just managed to come across your blog and wanted to say I"m glad he is doing much better :) Well done.

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