Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (EPSM) and Thomas Equinas

This blog serves to chronicle my day to day struggles dealing with this metabolic disorder and how it effects my soon-to-be 13 year old dressage horse.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Back to writing...

After a little hiatus (actually caused by severe feelings of apprehension and doubt about the "progress" of Thomas' condition), I'm back to continue with this discourse about EPSM. Don't get me wrong, Thomas is doing quite well, I have just been feeling anxious about talking about it. Maybe I've been worried about jinxing the situation, or maybe I just didn't want people holding their breath, hoping for good results at an upcoming show or whatever. Anyway, I'm back, and here goes:

I spent the months of May and June working Thomas here at home. First, we rigged up our barn so that he can go freely in and out to our sand ring and back to his stall. He LOVES this change! Bugs have always bothered him, so the ability to just bail and go back to his stall appeals to him greatly. He's moving around more and that definitely seems to help his muscles. We did, however, have to resort to running a hot wire along the top of the fence (Thank you Bart!) because he was leaning over it for the grass and snapping boards daily. Not having grass (poor horse) has helped him too.

By mid-June I was noticing that his rotund shape he had blossomed into upon starting the oil regimen last fall, was starting to waste away. His hip bones were protruding again and his rump muscles were looking weak. I had my vet take a look and she suggested feeding more calories (from oil) and added protein (from alfalfa pellets). Now he's getting the following to eat:

morning: 1 qt Poulin CarbSafe
               1 qt. 15% alfalfa pellets
               1.5 cups canola oil
                3 flakes hay, soaked

noon:     1 qt Poulin CarbSafe
               1 qt. 15% alfalfa pellets
                3 flakes hay, soaked

supper:   1 qt Poulin CarbSafe
               1 qt. 15% alfalfa pellets
               1.5 cups canola oil
                1 scoop Quiessence (Magnesium)
                1 scoop Senior Flex
                2000 IUs Vitamin E
                1.5 lbs (dry) beet pulp pellets, soaked

late night:  3 flakes hay, soaked

It's a lot of stuff. My feed room looks like an apothecary. But he seems to be doing pretty well. I started soaking the hay just recently because we got a new load of first cut hay in, and he suddenly started to feel like he had bricks tied to his feet when I rode him. Soaking the hay is supposed to take some of the sugars out, so I hope that helps.

Work-wise he's been going very well. I remember last winter wishing that I could just get on him and work him in a nice low frame to warm him up and not have to deal with all of his fussiness at the beginning of every ride. Well now he comes out, takes about 5 minutes of walk warm up and then proceeds to a lovely, bouncy long trot and will even happily pop into canter. I work him pretty forward with all of this. His instinct is to suck back and get behind my leg, but it's getting better.

From there he gets a walk break and then usually I do canter work. We've been able to work on lengthening and shortening the frame as well as counter canters and shoulder-fore to half pass steps. Now that's what I call progress! The left to right change is still very troublesome. But if I can get him to let go of his right side, the change will usually come clean.

Walk break, then trot work. This is where he starts to poop out some times. Generally his trot work is better than the canter work, so I work the harder one first, in case he just can't go any more, and then the trot work is sacrificed a bit. He lets me know. Everything gets much harder to do. His stride will start to get shuffling instead of swinging and he will stick his tongue out. Some days he can go a full 45 minutes and get a good dose of trot work in and never really tire noticeably.

On the 18th and 19th I took Tom to the June Dressage Show at GMHA. He was SO happy to get braided and go to the show! On Saturday I warmed him up for 3rd 3 in the Dust Bowl and he acted like an old pro. He strutted around like, "This is the way it's done!". He surprised me with his willingness, and in so doing, I think I warmed him up a little too long. We went to the White Ring to do our test and he was all business, and seemed genuinely excited to be back out there! The trot work was really consistent and pleasant. We got a lot of 7s (even on half passes which used to be our bugaboo). When we got to the canter work, suddenly he ran out of steam. Lauren video'd it and I can see where his hind end got further and further out behind him, until he just couldn't maintain the canter. He broke 3 times and we got a '1' for the right to left change which didn't really exist. I got comments like "Rider needs to be more diligent about keeping the horse in front of her leg."Hah! If she only knew! We came away with our qualifying score, despite the poor canter work, because the trot was SO good! I was very happy with him and most of all I was pleased that he was so willing and excited to be there.

I took him back on Sunday and the thrill had worn off. I suspect he was still a little tired. I kept my warm up short and sweet, but the test was lack-luster and we ended up with the same score even though I kept him from breaking out of the canter.

So our first post-EPSM-diagnosis-show is under our belt and we are entered in Dressage Days in July. I'm hoping that the alfalfa will help him to have more stamina and strength. I will try to be more consistent with my postings on here. Feedback is welcomed!