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DrMelJ, Horse Veterinarian
Category: Horse Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 825
Experience:  experience in racetrack medicine and general practice; owned and ridden horses throughout life.
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I am wondering what would cause a horse to develop -

Customer Question

I am wondering what would cause a horse to develop - overnight - a fairly violent twitch in his neck (strong enough to slightly jerk his neck and head a tiny bit to the left each time). No fever. Appetite unchanged but seems to be a bit more of a struggle for him to eat his hay. I found a drowned bee in one of the water buckets this morning (we are having an unusually warm December). My vet thinks it could be a reaction to a bee sting and that swelling could cause pressure on a nerve which could cause the twitching. But if that was the case, why would he still be eating (why wouldn't pain and irritation cause him to stop eating if sting in mouth or if a bee was swallowed?). Help - very scared for my boy Pender who is a pasture pet and has been otherwise very healthy (he did have a yucky nasal discharge a couple of months back - on one side only and with no fever - that was treated with antibiotics and cleared up very quickly).
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Horse Veterinary
Expert:  DrMelJ replied 1 year ago.

Hi there. Thanks for the question. I'm sorry that pender is having some medical issues. This sounds very odd and does not sound like a bee sting issue to me. Here are some thoughts....At his age, he could have some neck arthritis and perhaps he did something to aggregate it...slipped in the mud or something like that. Does he seem unsteady on his feet at all, especially the hind end? Like if you turn him in a tight circle quickly, does he stumble? This could be a sign of the vertebra in his neck pinching his spinal cord. This would also cause odd muscle twitching and spasming. You can have the neck xrayed to look for this. The only treatment is pain meds and steroids and time. But of course if it is arthritis, it will never fully be cured.

Another potential would be EPM (equine protozoa myelitis) or Lyme. They are not super common causes of such signs but if you are getting no improvement with time and steroids, I would highly recommend testing for both (they are just blood tests).

These would be the things I would check for if I was examining the horse. I hope this helps. Best of luck.

Expert:  DrMelJ replied 1 year ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?