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Issues-spooking, saddle, lymes, God knows, with my little horse

Dear All,

This is long-I apologize! And has sort of two problems-spooking and bucking after jumps. I sincerely appreciate any help or ideas any of you can give me.

So the last time I posted I had just been spooked off of my little horse, totally uncharacteristic of him. I took the horse to another vet, that I do think is good, he checked his eyes and ears, and just generally poked around, eyes and ears were fine. At my suggestion he tested him for Lymes and EPM. Well they both came back positive-the EPM barely had significant titers and like many of you, most of our horses are positive for EPM to some degree.

I gave him the medicine for Lymes and EPM. He seems better under saddle-though I’ve not ridden much- and on the ground. Until 3 weeks ago I was lunging him, and when I say lunge, I just mean walk around me twice and trot around twice in both directions, more like a custom than a real lunge. I was having him step over a pole on the ground. In the second direction at the trot, he suddenly stopped and ran backwards. I sent him forward again and he stopped at the pole this time, like he was refusing a fence, like planted, and then ran backwards. I got him going again (I did do a snake check, cause you never know-nothing) and he went on over the pole but just seemed “weird”. I did get on and rode very briefly and he was ok. So I had more blood drawn but the results did not concern my long time vet-he said it was indicative of past Lymes and not high enough to give him concern.

I took him for a lesson a couple of weeks ago and he was great, first time in an indoor, first time with mirrors, totally laid back. Took him the next week for over fences with the trainer riding-wind blowing, the warm up was great, but when she asked him to jump a very wee jump he bucked afterwards. She did it again like 4 times and had warmed up over poles on the ground and just on the flat, but still bucked after the fence. She stopped and said something’s wrong. Then she went back in and put on her saddle and hopped over-he was fine. I have had this horse buck after fences almost since I’ve had him.

The trainer was going to test different saddles on him yesterday, she’s a saddle rep, and has just started learning how to fit saddles. But y’all he acted like such an idiot it was impossible to really do anything. We were in a new ring, outdoors with horses over the fence and the ring has mirrors. This was apparently totally unlike the mirrors in the indoor and he was majorly freaked out. He even, with her, came up off the ground and whirled around, only like 2 feet but still! He has never ever done that. However being super wound up occasionally isn’t unheard of.

She thinks the current saddle is too big, it’s a 30 and she thinks he needs a 27 gullet. I do have a saddle fitter that is supposed to be good, tho he never has asked me to get on to see how the saddle looks with me in it on the horse. He restuffed the saddle a bit about a year ago, checked it in May and said it was fine.

At this point I don’t know whether to scratch my watch or wind my ass so to speak. Is it the lack of a pasture buddy? Is it the Lymes? Is it his saddle? All of the above? He’s 11, I’ve had him since he was 4, drat it all I thought this would be the easy good time and it’s totally fraught!!!

Any help appreciated and sorry re: the long post.


When did you treat for Lyme? Did you retest after treatment?

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I tested first and it was positive 6/12 ish. I retested 8/29.

It sounds like an actual lameness exam would be worthwhile.

What did you use in your Lyme (no “s”) treatment, and how long did you treat? What did you use in your EPM treatment, and how long was that? Did the vet do a neuro exam both before and after EPM treatment to assess neuro deficit and improvement?


Did you do a month of doxy? What were the numbers after treatment? My horse has kept low numbers, but I have a friend whose horses have all rebounded to quite high numbers, even after IV treatment.

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Katyb, yes to the Doxy.

I just looked at the last results and he has OSPF positive 8394.

This is what my vet said. Now that I reread it, that’s not a ‘he’s fixed don’t bother’ but rather ‘might be an issue’
Dr Murray:
OSPA & OSPC are both Negative & lowered ~ usually means no active infection now nor in the recent past.

OSPF is lower & is an indicator of PAST infection ~ the level is noteworthy though falling. Not alarming but could still be a player?

Another round of Doxycycline will hurt nothing but your credit card balance. Not so certain would actually be of value.

Hey, I will have to check re the EPM. It’s a newer version of the treatment that my vet said had been shown to be as effective. Smaller dose for longer. No they didn’t do a neurological exam. And I have seen no evidence of any issues.
I did tho have a lameness exam in March when I noticed his weird spooking. Lungeline, flexes, rescope, checked his back-all negative. Then in the summer I went back and got his eyes tested and got the tests.

It would really be worth running him through a neuro exam. EPM causes neuro deficit, and neuro stuff can be really subtle unless you’re looking specifically for it…until it’s not, and the horse can’t stand up, or something else really obvious and scary.

30 days of doxy is also not a lot, at least according to my vets. We’re so endemic for Lyme here, and a positive test gets at least 6 weeks of minocycline. A high chronic titer can definitely take some time to come down, though.

Any chance this horse is grey? Melanoma can pop up in weird spots and cause weird issues.


So, my horse was OSPF 2339 before treatment, and after treatment OSPF was 180. Your horse has very high numbers. I’d maybe try to find a vet with more experience dealing with Lyme. Mine never had high OSPC, but it was affecting his feet, weight, and behavior. He improved dramatically on all those issues after a month of doxy.


My guy just went through Lyme and EPM treatment (both titers super high…and we had a Lyme titer 6 months before that was completely negative)…but he also had a very severe case of ulcers on top of it all.
We treated with doxy, protazil, and Ulcergard/Sucralfate (yes, it was a pain to time all those meds)…but after a month he was back to his old self. Just hoping it stays that way.
Might be worth scoping to see if he has ulcers on top of everything, or from the antibiotics.


No he’s not grey. I will probably do the extra Lyme’s drugs tho.

So according to my vet the OSPF is an indication of past infection. But as he said could still be a player. We don’t have a ton of Lyme’s here in Ala. But this guy is on the board at Auburn vet school and is usually up on all the current medical ideas. 8000+ does seem high-especially since the other two are negative and lower. I think another round of meds may at least not hurt and possibly help with that spooking.

Well Critter he did have ulcers back in last fall. His pasture buddy died and he was and is not happy. He was treated for them and his behavior went back to normal-he wasn’t much fun for several rides tho fine at home. In March when he did his first weird spook they retested the ulcers and just showed some irritation, no ulcer. So the vet recommended just a maintenance dose day before and day of a stressful event-like hunting. As he pointed out in the first place tho, you can treat ulcers but if what cause them stays the same they may well come back.
Of course I didn’t check for EPM or Lyme’s because I saw no symptoms. IDK if he had them then or not.

Lyme. Lyme disease. No s.

A high chronic titer still indicates an infection that needs treatment. It just means it’s been going on for some time.

Treating with minocycline may be more effective than doxy. Price is about the same.


Yup…ulcers can come back quickly. My guy had them earlier in the year…treated and healed (as per scope)…seemed to be doing okay and we were doing sucralfate daily and treating with UG before travel/stress/etc. Then tried to put him back in work and his behavior was just miserable…scoped again, and severe grade 3 ulcers. Then we found the EPM/Lyme after treating the ulcers the second time. In his case the sucralfate and typical maintenance was not enough to keep them from returning.

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My understanding is that OSPF means chronic (ongoing) not past infection. I hope you can get it figured out.


That titer for OSPF is quite high. I would think chronic Lyme at this point that still needs treatment.

My horse (here in Lyme Central) was in the 2000’sfor OSPC and OSPF (highest normal values considered 1000 and 1250) and the vet felt it was worth treating.

How long after treatment was he tested and how much did the titer drop? There is this from Cornell “A decrease of a positive antibody value by at least 50% of the original value in the time frames mentioned below is considered an indicator of treatment success.”
Their info page is worth a read: https://www.vet.cornell.edu/animal-health-diagnostic-center/testing/protocols/lyme-multiplex-horses

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Fwiw I’ve got one that was over 10000 on the chronic titer, and it took quite some time to drop. My vets saw zero value in retesting before a year. Although we did treat her far more aggressively than a month of doxy. We check her yearly to make sure she continues to go down.

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Well, Simkie, it could have been 6 weeks, truly I don’t remember. I got 2 tubs of stuff and gave it till it was gone. Maybe that’s why my vet didn’t seem to think a second round would do much good.