I recently rescued a horse from a trail riding business. He is, we believe, around 30 years old. He was severely under weight with extreme loss of muscle. When observing his living arrangements we noticed the other horses he was corraled with were bullying him at feeding time making it difficult for him to eat. He also desperately needed his teeth floated, something he'd never had done which was probably contributing to his nutrition issues. We've had him for a few months and have watched him get a bit healthier, put on a bit of weight, begin playing and interacting more. We give him senior feed, which he loves and seems to have a healthy appetite and normal bowel movements. HOWEVER-3 days ago when we went out to feed him dinner he was covered in scrapes, sweating profusely and limping, obviously haven fallen down with lots of trouble getting up. Frankly, he looked like he'd kicked his own butt! He has not been the same since and seems to be deteriorating rapidly. He is semi-dragging his back legs-but still getting around although frightening to watch. He looks shaky and unstable. His right hip area is very swollen. And he will just turn and spin for 10 minutes at a time thoughout the day like he wants to lay down. That turns into either stopping and standing a while, going ahead and laying down or worse-falling down. He will stay down a while then get back up, walk a bit, then the spinning begins again. We are giving him bute which seems to help but he scares me. He does not look good. I don't have great vet options out here. Is it possible he broke a hip even though he is still walking...however feebly it appears? Do horses get equilibrium issues? I guess he could have a neurological problem contributing to the first fall? He was weak to begin with too due to the muscle loss from the nutrition issue before-but getting sooo much better. This seems to have set him back farther than when we got him. :( Any miracle advice? :(
Type of Animal: horse
Name of Horse: Cowboy
I think your neurologic suspicions are founded
You should get a vet to pull some bloodwork: I especially worry about liver function, as some liver pathology can cause loss of appetite or weight, but also neurologic signs from the secondary hyperammonemia...
I think bloodwork should be first step, and administration of DMSO and vitamin E would be indicated as you are waiting for results
let me know how it goes
best of luck
Board certified surgeon, lameness and advanced imaging expert. 9 years experience.
Hi Dr. M! Just wanted to update you on Cowboy. DMSO is miraculous. !!! I've been giving him Defense Victamin C & E in his senior feed too. He is putting weight on the bad hip again and walking around a bit more stable, no more spinning, much less need to lay down-and his spunk and determination are returning. He "looks" ptiful appearance-wise because of this crazy ordeal and all the nicks and scraps he's got. He's not going to win any beauty contests--but he's alive and doing better! He's torn up the skin on the "good" side from getting up and down too roughly but we've kept it clean and sprayed with medicine plus I sewed a pad into his fly blanket so it is easier on the hip when he does get up or down-which seems to be working well. Bloodwork came back ok too---which rocks. I think the DMSO and supplement helped loads---THANK YOU!
Three days ago I was certain it was time for the big pink shot of eternal sleep. Today I am astounded by his resilience! He is the toughest animal I've ever known.
SIDE STORY: A few days ago- I witnessed one of the coolest things I have ever seen an animal do during one of Cowboy's "laying down" episodes. He was wearing his fly blanket strapped onto him and when he was ready to stand again, he struggled roughly to get back on his feet without success. So Silver, his best horse friend, walked over, took the back side of the blanket in his teeth and pulled Cowboy up as hard as he could and helped him get rebalanced on his feet. He made sure he was stable. Then walked back to keep watch over him. An unbelievably beautiful moment to experience. Silver has in fact been helping him get back up over and over again and will even let Cowboy lean on him from time to time so he can rest.... :-)
Thank you again...
Happy he is better.Great story Silver helping cowboy.. you should try to catch it on video.Best of luck, hope he keeps improving