Because that's how it always is when you have to make big decisions with a horse.
So. Dr. H came out on Friday with her associate. Charles dropped me off at the barn and I sat during the exam because any sudden movements still make my head spin.
My vet did the full neurological workup and found some very minor abnormalities with Gracie's left hind, which is the leg that slips underneath her when she falls. My vet tried EVERYTHING...even walking Gracie with a blindfold, and the mare always knew where her feet were. She even took advantage of the hill in the back pasture. For an explanation on what an equine neuro exam entails, go here. My vet went through every one of the steps explained in that article. For a great video on what an equine neuro exam looks like go here. Dr. DiPaolo compares normal vs neurologic responses in horses in that video.
The one somewhat noticeable abnormality that Dr. H could find were bilateral knots in Gracie's neck at C-2 (second cervical vertebra). When pressed, she had small muscle tremors as if the area was sore, but there were no theatrics from the mare, so she's not in terrible pain. Dr. H said this could be from arthritis, an old injury, or just an incidental finding. If it is something, it is most likely arthritis and the worst case scenario is that it is causing a sort of secondary mild Wobbler's syndrome.
Gracie also had somewhat limited range of motion to the left when it came to getting her to turn her head in that direction. This is something I had noticed prior, but she is so awful about treats that I have been reluctant to teach her carrot stretches to remedy this.
Her muscling over her body is otherwise completely normal and symmetrical, and the doctor said that the small neuro abnormalities that she was seeing could totally be Gracie's normal. She also said that while it is alarming that the mare has fallen so often in the last two months, she has indeed met horses that were tremendous klutzes and just had no sense of self-preservation. She was stunned when I told her that after each fall, Gracie simply gets up and continues to run, but she said she has met other horses that were idiots like that.
Gracie's pupils were dilated and Dr. H did a complete ophthalmic exam in the darkness of Deja's stall with all of the barn windows and doors closed. Apparently Rocky Mountain Horses tend to have some weird congenital eye abnormalities, which I didn't know, not really having been a fan of this breed prior (I still think horses should not be bred for color. The eye abnormalities are more common in individuals with the more typical dark chocolate coat and flaxen mane and tail that this breed is known for.) Which made me really glad I had decided to have her eyes checked! Of course her eyes were completely normal except for a random vessel at the back of her left eye. Dr. H is going to call an ophthalmologist friend of hers to double-check but she said that due to the way the vessel looked, it was highly likely it was nothing.
|If you ever go for a Rocky Mountain or Kentucky Mountain horse of this color, DO have the eyes checked as part of your pre-purchase exam! This is the color that has been linked to congenital eye abnormalities known as ASD or anterior segment dysgenesis. You can read about the study here. For an explanation in layman's terms, go here.|
Based on what happens with that, there will be two options: neck x-rays, which my vet can do in the field, and/or sending out EPM titers. Apparently EPM is not that common in my part of MD but it can have such vague symptoms that it is not a bad idea to rule it out anyway.
And if we can't find anything wrong, then I'm not sure what next. She is not getting a bone scan nor a myelogram nor any other kind of 'gram or scan that requires a visit to the specialty equine hospital because she is not insured and we don't have that kind of money. And if only people with that kind of money had horses, most people would not have horses. Sorrynotsorry. I'm simply trying to find out if she has something diagnosable within reason that is fixable within reason. If it is fixable within reason, it will be fixed. Hopefully, it is something that can be fixed.