Gracie's Stifle Story

Update on Gracie: 1 Week Later

Pink Prof Choice Boots on my Bay Horse

It’s been a week and 2 days since I found Gracie in the pasture with something wrong. I knew the moment I saw her that something wasn’t right and I hurried out to the field to her side. Slowly I got her to walk into the barn where I could look her over a lot better and try to determine what was wrong. It was walking her back into the barn and seeing how much pain she was in that made me call the Vet.  Well 2 visits from 2 different Vets and I still have no idea what happened to her but she is recovering from whatever it was.

Yesterday when I arrived at the farm, I walked into the barn and she poked her head out the stall window and whinnied for me. That was the best sound I had heard in the last 9 days. I walked over to her taking in how she was acting and noticed for the first time she was highly alert, her head was a little higher then it had been, her ears were forward and her eyes had the twinkle back in them that she’s always had. I knew right then she was back to herself and feeling good.

It really sucks not knowing what happened to her or what caused her problem those frightful days. I’m the type of person that needs to know what the problem is so I can come up with a good answer. Not knowing was driving me insane. I Googled every symptom she had, I talked to every person I could, and I started to treat her for everything I could.

Since her lameness/illness was a complete mystery to both vets and I really had no clear direction to go in, I took it upon myself to do whatever I could to make her better. The hard part was trying to find other horses who had similar problems and basically there were none. Every case I read about online had some similarities but not enough in common I thought it could be the same. So here’s what I found and what I did for anyone that might experience the same thing with your horse.

First I recommend you read about her symptoms here.

Now that you’ve read that here’s basically what I found online that seemed similar but not quite the same:

1. EPM (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis) – some of the symptoms that were similar to what Gracie had experienced were:

  • Locking of her stifle joint – she had been locking up in her hind end for a few weeks and it came on all of a sudden.
  • Difficulty Swallowing – I thought she could be having some problems because she wasn’t eating as fast and wouldn’t eat alot. She was taking smaller bites of grass and just seemed a little different then normal.
  • Slight Lameness – she was slightly lame in her hind end and did seem a little uncoordinated.
After learning about all the symptoms, talking to other people who’s horses have been diagnosed with it, and watching videos on youtube I really didn’t think this could be the case but I didn’t want to completely rule it out. Since I wanted to keep costs down as much as possible I read about a new treatment that some people had done and seemed to be some what successful. This treatmeant was feeding horses Diatomaceous Earth. DE is a natural product that can be used as an anti-caking agent or pelleting aid in feed. It’s also used as a Dewormer but has never been clinically proven to help horses with EPM but many people were saying they noticed huge improvements in their horses after using it. So I gave it a try and started all my horses on it. I bought a 20lb bag from Tractor Supply for $12 and started feeding 1 teaspoon once a day in their feed.

2. Mineral Deficiency – again Gracie had some of these symptoms too.

  • Licking dirt – she would sit and eat the clay instead of the green grass right beside it.
  • Chewing wood – her stall looks crazy however it could be from her being bored from being on stall rest.
  • Eating leaves – she looovveedd leaves and prefered that over grass. She would even eat the tree limbs holding the leaves.
  • Muscle spasms – you could see that happening in the video I posted.
The only thing I did to help this out was to put a mineral block in with her so she could lick on it, which she did.

3. PSSM (Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy) – I’m not going to go into all the details about this but you can read more about it here. That article provides a lot of great information on the disease. I thought maybe she was “tying-up” which was causing her muscles to spasm and her to be so tight in her back end. I did watch some videos on horses with it and I ruled this out pretty quickly but to be safe I read that sweet feed is high in sugars which is the cause of this and decreasing that can help. So I cut back her feed so she wasn’t getting as much. Exercise also is suppose to be a huge factor in getting horses well but I wasn’t able to exercise her.

4. HYPP (Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis) – Symptoms of this are similar to PSSM. Again I watched videos and read about this but it just didn’t seem to fit Gracie just right. However, I will say that I do plan to breed her at some point so I will get her tested just to be 100% sure she doesn’t have this and can’t pass it on to the baby. If you want to know more about this, go here.

As you can tell most of what I read were pretty serious diseases. My gut feeling tells me Gracie isn’t dealing with anything like that and more then likely it’s just a lameness from being kicked or rough housed by Vinni. Which Vinni is known for playing too rough. He likes to kick, paw, rear and bite not in a mean way he just loves to play. Gracie doesn’t like it so much so she will kick at him. So she could have just hurt herself kicking at him.

Just to sum up what I did tho. I started feeding Diatomaceous Earth, I cut back her feed, I made sure she had access to a mineral block at all times, she was put on stall rest for 9 days and I only had her out about 4 hours each day to eat grass. I also had the massage therapist come back out and work on her to help her muscles relax. I will say I noticed a slight improvement after that too. On day 6 I started to hand walk her for 15-20 mins up and down a small hill. I also bought a magnetic blanket and she wore that for 1 hour every day. She was on 2 grams of bute every day for 5 days and then I cut it back to 1 gram for 2 days. She has been off bute for 2 days and has shown no signs of any problems coming back.

Like I said I have no idea what caused her problems and the fact that I did so much to help her doesn’t help narrow down what really worked. However, I feel confident to say whatever it was isn’t still bothering her and she is on her way to be 100% again.

Thank you for all your prayers and concerns during this time. Feel free to leave any questions or comments below. I would love to hear any stories you want to share about similar problems your horse had.  Gracie is thankful to and sends sweet horse kisses your way!

Gracie in Pink Polos

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