Since I wrote this three years ago, there has been an increased awareness of equine neuro-muscular disorders by horse owners and their veterinarians. Draft-crosses are becoming popular - spurred by PMU mare/foal rescues many are being ridden by new or first-time horse owners - and their susceptibility to "traditional" draft horse neuro-muscular issues often forces their owners into a sharp learning curve. (See The Bigger They Are...)
The EPSM group - a group of owners of horses with EPSM/PSSM which includes not only draft horses but warm bloods - many trained at high levels of dressage - and some light horse breeds has become more active. Eleanor Kellon, VMD has been working with group members helping them develop and fine tune treatment protocols and her course on Neuro and Muscular Disorders expands on the information from the earlier Nutrition as Therapy program. While feed companies scramble to develop new ways to market "magic feed", Dr. Kellon's approach begins with sound nutritional foundations based on NRC guidelines and a basic understanding of how the parts of the equine body works - no gimmicks or magic bullets.
Claire's story about their Quarter Horse Doc is a must read if you have a horse that is displaying any of the signs of Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (PSSM).
In 2001, Doc displayed many of the symptoms commonly associated with PSSM, including
- cranky when asked to canter both under saddle and on a line.
- when he was young he would buck, as he matured he would swish his tail angrily
- extremely hard muscles even when out of shape
- backs up very slowly and reluctantly
- seems uncomfortable when asked to pick up his back legs
- difficulty picking up his right lead
- unexplained episodes of back soreness
- stiff, choppy gaits, he was never relaxed and rhythmical
- tripping, which we attributed entirely to his Navicular Disease/Syndrome
- quivering chest muscles, especially when waiting for his feed
- at times Doc did not want to be groomed, acting as if he was going to bite
- a history of tying-up
Finally getting a correct diagnosis, Claire was able to place Doc on a simple targeted nutrition plan with the help of equine nutrition specialist, Eleanor Kellon, VMD, which has alleviated his symptoms.
Read Claire's article to see how applying research and science can provide a straight forward approach to sorting out this often baffling condition.
And check out the EPSM/PSSM group at http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/EPSM/ for support and see how the latest updates on diet and using ALCAR (Acetyl L-Carnitine) or L-carnitine protocols are working.
Other EPSM/PSSM resources -
University of Minnesota Equine Center
Tests available at the U of Mn Veterinary Diagnostic Lab
Source for Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR)
NutraBio bulk products NutraBio.com