Neurological Issue? Need Help. Gelding with strange behavior that no one has seen

Hi, it has been suggested that my horse might have EPM, but doesn’t display what I know to be the classic symptoms. I am desperately trying to find the root cause of my his weird behavior and hoping someone in the group has seen or heard of the his strange behavior.

It all started with a dribbling issue… just a few drops of urine after riding. I noticed it about a month after getting him. I am pretty sure he came to me with this issue, I just didn’t notice it right away.

It progressed over the course of several months to what I would describe as a muscle spasm in his back end about 30 minutes into a riding lesson. He would camp under and kind of freeze up. Usually he would drop and be hanging out and dripping. When it got to this point I contacted the vet again and we started running tests, looking at the bladder, etc. See the list below of everything I have done so far - still no answers.

It has now progressed even further. The last time I attempted to ride him was about a month ago. I walked him around before tacking and he was quiet and did everything I asked him to do. Tacked him up and he was great. No issues. Not girthy or anxious. When I got to the mounting block his tail started swishing. He stood still while I mounted then turned from the mounting block, tensed up, camped under, thrusted the air and squirted. He appeared to be ejaculating.

Since then he has repeated this behavior multiple times doing ground work without a saddle or any weight. I don’t know if he is getting so anxious with our work that he does this or ?? I will say, I do not work him very hard, at least not physically. Mentally it is challenging.

This is most of what I have done trying to get to the bottom of this:

  • He has seen 4 different vets including an internist at a hospital
  • Has passed 2 neuro exams by different vets
  • Had his bladder flushed 2x
  • Had 2 urinalysis that showed nothing out of the ordinary
  • Had his bladder scoped - which showed nothing out of the ordinary. They were looking for neurologic bladder.
  • Was negative across the board on a 5 panel genetic test (we were looking for PSSM1)
  • Had has body work and chiropractic work (both practitioners said he was very tight in his shoulders and the chiro thought his pelvis was tipped on the left side)
  • Just completed a deep parasite/deworming cleanse and am in the process of building his gut back up
  • He is also completing the ImmuBiome ulcer protocol (he was girthy but not anymore)
  • I have had him on Silver Lining Herbs for brain/nerve and kidney support.
  • He is not lame
  • His teeth have been done
  • His sheath has been cleaned multiple times
  • Switched him to a forage diet and he eats like a champ (Vermont Blend, Timothy Pellets, Emcelle, Salt, ImmuBiome Gut, Flax, ImmuBiome Lean Muscle, Chia Seeds)
  • His saddles have been fitted multiple times
  • Bloodwork was normal

He does not trip, or weave when he walks. He hasn’t lost any muscle, isn’t weak, Doesn’t seem sore when palpated. When his feet get done, he is anxious and sits back when the farrier gets around to the 4th leg (front right).

I will add that I don’t know much about Jasper’s past. He is a sensitive horse. Very stoic. He keeps it inside. He was born in Texas, ended up in Iowa when he was about 5, sold multiple times and made his way back to Texas where I got him.

My vet thinks he may have a lesion on the spine that is pressing on a nerve that is connected to the bladder - but this will be hard to confirm because it will likely not show up on an x-ray.

I have a video of my last attempt to ride. Everyone I have shown the video to says they have never seen anything like it before. Including my vet and the vets he shared it with.

Have anyone by chance heard of this behavior before and if so, what was the root cause? Could it be EPM? Another neuro disease?

I have spent a fortune and need to be strategic with next steps. I want to help him but I just don’t know how, or what to do next.

Thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide. Trying to stay hopeful that I can turn him around.

Edited to include link to video: https://youtu.be/tgCaUfYgsPk

7/1/22 - Edited to add the following:
Here’s video of Jasper urinating. I didn’t have my phone out right away, so he was trying to go for at least 10 seconds before I started the video. My apologies for the poor quality, I had another horse in my face. https://youtube.com/shorts/1Xu9MRF_veE?feature=share

Also, he drops a lot of food. His teeth were done less than a year ago. Maybe that is another clue?

7/4/22 - Edited to add the following:
Have been reading more about polyneuritis equi since it was brought up in the discussionand found this:
“Polyneuritis equi is a condition characterized by paresis of the tail, bladder, rectum, and the anal and urethral sphincters. Paresis or paralysis is accompanied by analgesia over the perineal region. Muscle wasting and an uneven gait can be seen. Cranial nerves can be involved. You will see a drooping lip or ears, inability to blink and wasting of chewing muscles. The experimental cases showed hypersensitivity in the skin over the neck and body, behavior changes, changes in vocalization, weakness, and chewing disorders.”
This made me think of a couple of things about him and I didn’t mention that might be related:

  1. Jasper was very head shy when I first got him. He is much, much better now. But almost always looks away when I got to touch him on his face.
  2. Back when I was riding him, he would spook at muck fork lines in the arena, or ground poles. One day he would go over them, and the next it would be like he had never seen them before and be spooked. I really wondered if he had problems seeing, those his eyes were checking during his PPE.
  3. I never thought he was hypersensitive to touch, but when being groomed he moves around a lot.
  4. He drops his food when he chews. He had his teeth done last September, but has continued to drop food.

I wonder if these could be related to Polyneuritis equi?

If you can stand more videos, these are of my trainer riding Jasper back in January. Posting to see if they shed any more light on the situation. There is a lot going on

  1. Trainer Ride - January Walking/Extended https://youtu.be/zYOKf2kMb1E
  2. Trainer Ride - January Trotting Right https://youtu.be/La8s25PRKzs
  3. Trainer Ride - January Trot/Canter Left Lead https://youtu.be/_w1rlOgvSQc
  4. Trainer Ride - January Canter Right Lead https://youtu.be/jh9LibI-u28

Thank you. You have all be very kind to take the time to support Jasper and I. I really appreciate your input and suggestions.

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So sorry your horse is having these problems. Can you upload the video? Kudos to you for trying so diligently to find the cause.

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I will second looking to the spine. I’d talk with your closest vet hospital/university about what all of your options are and what they will/won’t show. You can use x-ray, ultrasound, CT, MRI, two phase bone scan, and I’m sure something I haven’t heard of yet.

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If I can figure out how to upload it, I sure will!

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Did you happen to post this in a FB group? If that was you, that video might be helpful. If not, then you’re not the first person to experience this! If that wasn’t you, let me know and I’ll try to find that thread over there.

Edit - sorry, I see you got asked about the video, but my other question still stands :slight_smile:

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Here’s a link to the video https://youtu.be/tgCaUfYgsPk
I have updated the post to include the link as well

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Wow, what an interesting video! Have you confirmed if what is being released is urine or ejaculate? Getting a good look at a sample would be my next step.

I would also be curious to see if it got better with a generous anti-spasmodic treatment - methocarbamol, gabapentin… you’d have to talk to your vet to see what they recommend. I would be inclined to try a hefty dose to really rule out of its a nerve firing/spasmodic issue or not.

For what it’s worth, there are cases in humans where sexual arousal (up to and including orgasm) can be stimulated by bizarre stimuli - often completely non-sexual (a non-sexual physical stimulus, looking at a non-sexual object like a paper clip, etc.). I wonder if something like that is going on here - sexual stimulation/ejaculation as a result of some (otherwise) non-sexual stimulus.

What a strange medical mystery. Very Oliver Sacks-ish.

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Definitely an unusual presentation.
Has a CSF tap been performed?

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It reminds me of priapism in humans, which can be due to a spinal cord injury or a tumor. Has that been investigated or considered?

He looks like a big, handsome horse. The fact that he’s already had numerous owners and been moved around a bit makes me wonder if this has been brewing for a while. I feel sorry for poor Jasper because he can’t possibly be comfortable. And my heart hurts for you because it’s clear you want to help him, yet you aren’t finding any answers.

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How long has he been a gelding? And does he walk off normally after doing this? I know that there is a device called an electro-ejaculator that goes in the rectum to force ejaculation through ever increasing electrical stimulus, has anyone done a rectal palpation to see if there’s a corresponding response?

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Interesting thought!

I wonder if someone who is an expert in stallion management would have any ideas for you. Perhaps contact Jos Mottershead with Equine Reproduction? He runs a tightly moderated FB group here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/EquineRepro/

And has a website with contact info here:

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Wow, very strange. I’ve gone through two situations of neuro problems, neither was anything like this, so experience to share. Is it possible that he has a retained testicle? Apparently they can cause discomfort and other problems. Have any of your vets suggested sending video and other relevant info to some major vet hospital for an opinion? that probably wouldn’t cost much. Other than that, you might verify the tipped pelvis, and if that could cause something like this. Also I wonder if somewhere along the way he had some injury that is causing compression. BTW, it looks like he has started to drop prior to mounting, not sure what that means…

I’ve never seen a horse with EPM react that way, but there can be a wide variation in symptoms.

As others have said, I would xray the back, if you haven’t already. Before watching the video, I was thinking xray the abdomen, too. Less so after seeing the behavior.

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What breed is he?

Yes…I posted in Vets Corner and no one responded. Also have it posted in an EPM group. Have been talking to the admin of a PSSM group as well.

I don’t know much about his history. I did talk to someone who owned him when he was 5. They said he was already gelded and had no issues.

He is a quarter horse

My vet consulted with a radiologist at Texas A&M. The radiologist said he could x-ray it but would likely not find the problem. I consulted with a vet at A&M prior to this behavior starting so I could probably send them the video and see if they have any suggstions.

A friend has suggested that it could be a tumor and he could have a previous injury I just don’t know about. I would have thought I would have seen more evidence of an injury but then again??? Maybe they roped off of him and he got hurt?