PSSM

Management Partners:

Where I buy chelated calcium, B1, reishi,  pea protein, and some herbs:

Where I buy herbs, seeds, and tinctures:

EPM in Horses Case Study: Bambam’s EPM Horse Symptoms and Behavioral Changes, and Bringing Him Back Into Ridden Work

Bambam EPM horse symtpoms, EPM horse behavior changes, epm in horses

EPM in horses: Bambam tested negative for PSSM1 and genetic PSSM2 testing.  However, he was found positive for three neurological problems and one muscular issue.  His neurological problems were:

He was presenting as a PSSM horse, and the typical procedures for rehabbing horses with sore backs and other muscular issues weren’t helping.  The culprit found for this was:

Chronic Lyme and EPM Horse Symptoms:

Bambam wasn’t showing as neurological, but was having muscle soreness issues and right hind lameness.  His right lumbar was sore and he was getting more exercise intolerant as time went on.  Eventually, he did begin to show some weakness on tail pull tests, and eventually tested positive through Pathogenes.

Bambam EPM horse symtpoms, EPM horse behavior changes, epm in horses

Bambam was tested for Cushing’s and other metabolic issues before his neurological issues were discovered, and he tested negative (he was fairly young when this really hit him – around 8 years old – which I should note is the same age that Jax started having issues).

A New Way of Living for a Horse With EPM:

Many management changes were made for this horse on top of diet changes.  He had been in a stall with a run, but when moved to my property he was on an EquiCentral-type system:

There’s a central dry lot with water and ad lib hay that’s always available, with a large run-in style barn and trees for shelter.  Two gates come off this area – one goes to a 1-2 acre lot with some grass and trees that’s almost always open.  The other gate goes to a 5-6 acre area with pasture and woods.  This area is open during seasons when pasture won’t cause any laminitis or other issues.

He runs with two other horses, and gets the run of the full 8 acres (mix of grass and woods) when the weather agrees.

His owner (Steph) exercised him as regularly as she could before the move, but a reluctant horse with physical and behavioral issues can’t get too much exercise – which is where turnout really helped; he was getting exercise without feeling like he was being pushed.  At the same time, Steph started hand walking him almost daily, going up to 5 miles on occasion after building him up to it – something Bambam hadn’t been able to do in years.

After a couple months of this, the owner started riding him again.  He was stiff in his back end to begin with, but built up fairly quickly.  He’s a Paso Fino, and he’s finally starting to get his gaits back as well (something he hasn’t really had in the 6 years she’s had him!).

Dealing With EPM Horse Behavior Changes:

There is one little known side effect to anyone that hasn’t dealt with an EPM horse, and that’s EPM horse behavior changes.  These horses develop anxiety, nervousness, and a lack of rigidity.  They can’t think their way through simple mental challenges, and they can explode when their is too much stimuli.  Bambam suffered from all of these issues.

Another note – this perfectly matched some of Jax’s “PSSM behavior,” only Bambam was far more severe, again sparking the question on whether there’s a relationship between muscle disorder and CNS, or whether Jax has an underlying neurological issue.

EPM in horses, EPM horse behavior changes, horse with EPM
EPM in horses, EPM horse behavior changes, horse with EPM

Pics above were taken when Bambam was finally becoming rideable again, but was still having some back end weakness.  This little guy also suffered with strange inflammatory symptoms like Jax.

EPM in Horses: Bringing Them Back

Steph tried everything with this horse, including a very expensive dietary regimen to heal his nervous system.  A lot of the products were very high quality, including ImmuBiome products, and she did see some results from this – but this regimen was completely unsustainable for the results seen.

When she moved him here to stay with me, I asked to put him on Jax’s regimen.  At this point, I had Jax off all packaged feeds, forage only, with a central nervous system-focused diet.  As we made the switch, she began exercising him.  His improvements came quicker than I expected, though really getting the hind moving correctly took a few months (he still needs some work in this area, which will be easier once the arena is complete).

EPM Horse Behavior Changes: Can These Changes Be Reversed?

My answer to this is a very hopeful YES, as we’ve seen huge improvements in his demeanor and behavior.  This irrationally spooky horse is now calm, handles mental challenges with ease, and has lost that desire to blow up and bolt.  We’re also seeing his true personality coming through, and he’s an absolute pleasure to have out in my field.

His right hind issues are not 100% fixed, but that will hopefully come with time.  He’s no longer sore in his back and actually does use his hind quite well, he just needs a little more strength building.  Steph has had some really good rides on this guy these last few months, including a trip down to Mississippi for a clinic where he aced a very challenging obstacle course while keeping his mind in tact, something he’s not been able to do the last few years!

UPDATE 2024 – ONE YEAR ON JAX’S PSSM REGIMEN!

This horse has absolutely flourished over the past year.  He again went to Mississippi in 2023 (right at a year on this regimen) and did amazing.  From his owner:

“The activities we did at the Advanced Boot Camp retreat were:
  • Power of a Circle
  • Advanced stopping & backing (backed all the way around a large 120 ft outdoor arena) backing using just our legs to signal(prepping for going brideless)
  • Spins & Pivots
  • Advanced Neck reining(prepping for advancing riding skills)
  • Lateral work
  • Direction & Collection(working on transitioning of gaits)
  • Flying lead changes
  • Didn’t make it to Bridleless maybe next retreat.
  • Worked on the Lay down.”

This little beauty has done so well over the last year, and I love seeing Steph’s smile in these pics! We’re tweaking some things through spring 2024, as this was his first winter with access to grass 24/7 (same with Jax, so we’re learning with both of these boys as we go).  We’ve seen a bit of spooking and a need to be with the herd on windy days, nothing abnormal for a horse in spring but something we’re keeping an eye on.  He’s still on the super simple diet Jax was on before navicular: chelated calcium/mushrooms/B1 mix, 1 tablespoon pea protein, and 1 tablespoon chia seeds with a few carrot slices.  See more about the Jax’s PSSM diet here.

Have Experience bringing an EPM Horse Back to Healthy, or questions about the process we used?  Feel free to comment below!

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