This is my first post I am making here. I just want to start by saying that I am working with my vet concerning the problems I am having with my horse but wanted to look here to see if anyone has any advice or suggestions. The title definitely does not sum up all of the problems I am having with my guy - as such, this will likely be a very long post!
I have a 10 year old Appendix Quarter Horse gelding. I bought him when he was four and he is a great horse - incredibly quiet, great on the trails and road safe, everything I need in a horse! As of late, I have been having some problems with him whereby his usual calm, sweet demeanor has changed.
Remi’s disposition had changed and I had the vet out to investigate this. He was demonstrating some irritability when asked to perform upward transitions and was not acting like himself. Additionally he was reluctant to saddling and seemed to have back pain. I had the vet out multiple times and we searched for many possibilities of his change in demeanor. The vet checked his eyes, checked my saddle fit (had two vets check saddle fit, actually), did multiple chiro adjustments, used hoof testers, checked for kissing spines, prescribed methocarbamol to see if it would help if it was muscle pain he was experiencing, put him on omeprazole after suspecting ulcers, and did flexion tests. None of these things seemed to help or give any indication as to what was wrong. Additionally I should mention his teeth were checked (and are done regularly).
After considering all of these possibilities at my old facility, it came time to move Remi as I was moving. This was at the end of October and the weather was still nice. He still was displaying these symptoms, however, as soon as the cold weather hit here in Canada, I noticed these changes in his personality became even greater.
It seemed that as soon as the weather turned, he became even more grumpy and unwilling to work. He would lay his ears back at anyone that passed him in the cross ties, was very sensitive to touch during grooming, particularly on his back and belly where, when touched, he would throw his head up in the air and lay his ears back. Additionally, he was reluctant to saddling and during riding would lay his ears back and swish his tail when asked for upward transitions. He seemed incredibly stiff when I would ride or lunge, especially in the back end and just seemed generally uncomfortable. This stiffness was also apparent during farrier visits or when I would pick his hind feet, as it seemed very hard for him to hold up his hind legs (front legs are fine). He became very flighty and nervous which is very unlike him. He was also having troubles keeping weight on come the winter months, despite having 24/7 hay access as well as being provided grain (beet pulp and equilizer).
I immediately had the vet out and he suspected ulcers (I should mention that this was a new vet as I had to switch vets when I moved). Although I had already had him on omeprazole before, I was not about to rule ulcers out as I know that things can change, especially with this happening shortly after the move which I knew was a stressful event for him as well as his sudden inability to keep weight (I should mention that he is not deathly underweight but ribby which is unlike him as he usually carries more weight). He has been on omeprazole since that visit and some of these issues have gone away - he no longer acts grumpy when people cross by in the cross ties and is less sensitive to touch and all around seems more comfortable.
The vet had additionally wondered about some form of chronic pain, as Remi was very uncomfortable when the vet palpated his back, so had me perform a bute trial - the bute did not seem to make any difference in the ten days that he was on it. The omeprazole seemed to have made the difference, however, and I have no doubt that he was experiencing pain from the ulcers.
Unfortunately, although the omeprazole helped some issues he was experiencing in the cross ties and during grooming, Remi was still reluctant to perform upward transitions and was still quite stiff in the hind end (his stiffness in the hind end did not seem to improve during the bute trial). He was still quite spooky and just generally not like himself. He was still unable to keep weight on. At this time, all of these symptoms are still present.
I knew that I needed to have the vet out again to investigate some more. One night, I had brought him inside to lunge him in the indoor arena, just to go through the motions and see how he was moving. He seemed particularly reluctant to move. He was fine when walking, but as soon as I asked him to trot he would flatten his ears against his head. I kept watching his trot and observing his gait when suddenly his left hind seemed to just collapse underneath him. After this, he continued trotting however was VERY stiff behind and looked ten times more uncomfortable. I asked him to walk and halt and as soon as he stopped moving his shoulders, belly, and back began trembling, demonstrating muscle cramps.
At this point I wondered about PSSM after doing some research on it, and called the vet again to have blood drawn. I received his results today and the vet told me there was nothing abnormal regarding his blood results, apart from LDH being high (545, normal range 81-390), neutrophils low (2.32, normal range 2.7 - 7.00), potassium high (4.9, normal range 2.4 - 4.7), creatinine low (86, normal range 88.4 - 176.8), and GGTP low (1, normal range 2 - 36). Everything else (total protein, globulin, albumin, bilirubin, AST, phosphorus, chloride, calcium, sodium, cholesterol, WBC, RBC, hemoglobin, etc.) normal.
The vet told me that there was “nothing exciting” about his bloodwork. I feel like I have hit a dead end. I have tried so many things to make Remi more comfortable and just want him to be back to the way he was before. It is so frustrating to know that he is obviously in pain - I don’t think that this is simply a training issue, as it seemed his demeanor changed overnight when these problems started happening, got worse in the winter, and it is so obvious to tell that he is in pain.
So, I was hoping to have some advice on my situation. I know that we all just want to do what’s best for our horses. I am willing to do anything I can to help Remington and hope that maybe someone will have some insight regarding this situation. I just feel so alone right now as no one I know has had these issues with their horses, and can not explain any of their experiences or offer any advice or ideas.
Any help is greatly appreciated.