Disappointing…but the right thing for the horse.

26 Apr

I should be writing this post from Lexington, Kentucky…but I am not.

I should be at the Kentucky Horse Park preparing to show Vaquero in the freestyle reining class at the Rolex…but I am not.

I have mixed emotions about not being there. I was really looking forward to showing him. I had prepared him for it by taking him to the Dixie Nationals in February and designed that routine to ‘put money in the bank’ for the Rolex.

Then I used the demos at the Equine Affaire in Ohio for further preparation. He rode great just this last Thursday and Friday.

The short story is that on Sunday night when he came in from being turned out with three other pasture-mates he wasn’t right. He had the appearance of being slightly drunk, complete with being slightly uncoordinated and easily off balance.

He appeared to have the symptoms of EPM although it was too sudden (I hope) for that which seemed to point towards some type of injury. But he had no marks; no mud on his blankets to show that he had slipped or been kicked or reared and gone over backward…or any clues.

We have been treating him and he has been improving although he is still not quite right. His head tilt to the left is still there although he has lost the slightly drunk look.

I know that skipping the show was the right decision to make. I just wish knowing it was the right decision would take away the disappointed feeling, but apparently it is possible, and maybe even probable that I can and will experience both.

At this point I just want my cute pony to feel better!


Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Life, Thought provoking


89 responses to “Disappointing…but the right thing for the horse.

  1. meggsy

    April 26, 2012 at 6:07 am

    Hope Vaquero has a very speedy recovery Stacy

  2. Gwen Confalone

    April 26, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Stacy, definitley check for EPM and Lymes. Also is he HYPP N/N?

    • Stacy

      April 26, 2012 at 10:17 am

      No HYPP

  3. Carlye cebul

    April 26, 2012 at 7:15 am

    I’m sure you have ruled out all that you can but did you think of poisoning as in elderberry which is just putting out new tender leaves

    • Stacy

      April 26, 2012 at 10:17 am

      The pasture he was in is empty except the hay we provide due to turning them out in winter (more of a paddock/ mud lot).

      • Shelly Stemm

        April 26, 2012 at 6:32 pm

        Could he have some sort of middle ear infection my dog had those same symptoms and that is what she ended up having

  4. Patty Williamson

    April 26, 2012 at 9:09 am

    I sure hope you find the cause and that he makes a full and rapid recovery. Prayers for him and you.

  5. Lauren Paytes

    April 26, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Prayers that he gets better soon and that its nothing serious!

  6. Shirley

    April 26, 2012 at 9:54 am

    So sorry to hear this.
    Here is a link to a series of blog posts by a lady named Kate who just dealt with a bout of EPM and the very effective treatment she and her vet came up with.

    • Peggy

      April 26, 2012 at 10:44 am

      Sending my prayers for you both and it is so refreshing to hear your priorities are in the right place. God Bless You Both and please keep us updated.

  7. Terri Anderson

    April 26, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Sending my prayers for a complete recovery! Pretty disappointing to not be able to go to the Rolex…..but even more scary to not know what it is……

  8. Lincey Hinkle

    April 26, 2012 at 11:00 am

    We just had this happen to one of our boarders last week. He was treated for EPM, but results were clear. Turns out he had a vitamin E deficiency, which has very similar symptoms to EPM. Hope Vaq gets to feeling better!

  9. Jennifer J. Martin (Gran Jen)

    April 26, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Oh, I am so disappointed for you! “Man plans, God laughs!” Please take good care of Vaquero, and keep everyone posted as to the latest developments. I hope he will be okay, and run many more great patterns!
    God bless,
    Jenny Martin

  10. Kate

    April 26, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Hope all comes right with him. I see someone has already given you the link to my EPM page. We used the new ELIZA peptide antigen blood test that’s now in clinical trials, as well as the treatment that’s part of the new protocol, with great results. The very good thing about the test is accurate so that EPM can be ruled out if that’s the case. Head-tilting is one of the common EPM symptoms, although my horses that were affected didn’t have that symptom, although one did do head-pressing.

    Best of luck to you and your horse.

  11. Candace

    April 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Poor guy! Hope he’s doing better soon..

  12. shireen

    April 26, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Prayers being sent for all of you!

  13. Kat Magnuson

    April 26, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Tick in his ear, maybe?

  14. Laura

    April 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    What about Rabies? We had one die from rabies and those are few of symptoms he presented. Our thoughts and prayers are with you both! Sometimes the right decisions are the hardest to make!

  15. Debbie

    April 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Maybe West Nile????

  16. Laura Scott

    April 26, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    So sorry for Vaquero and you, and disappointed too! I know the feeling, as I have had that happen to me a few times with horses. I hope you find what the problem is exactly, can treat it and you can both go on to the next competition better than ever. I saw him when you rode him at the Horsefest in Springfield and the two of you make a perfect pair. Take care of you and your horse!

  17. Cheryl Gould Mouyos

    April 26, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    you are the true example of a great horsewoman. One who cares more about her horse than herself ~ ❤

  18. beth

    April 26, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    I had a horse with an inner ear infection that acted this way, the head tilt made me think of it

  19. Rachel Scarbrough

    April 26, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    I know it’s hard not to compete in an event… but caring about and for your horse is always most important… something I know you already know. Hang in there… prayers going up.

  20. Shawna Kendrick

    April 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I know when EPM first came out my horse and his pasture buddy only went out in the day and were feed hay in the am.. But then his pasture buddy started acting weird. Short story the buddy had EPM and never saw possums but we sure did have birds that could have carried it. I really pray that your pony gets better and all gos good for you, you are a wonderful rider.

  21. Dmaynor

    April 26, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    A friends horse had symptoms of a neurological problem (acting drunk, stumbling, falling, etc.) and after the vet came out and drew blood, it turned out to be an iron deficiency. She started Joker on Red Cell and hasn’t had a problem since. Speedy recovery and best wishes! 🙂

  22. thecuriouseclectic

    April 26, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Hope he feels better soon, Stacy! Could it be a possible blow to the head or a stroke?

  23. Kelly H

    April 26, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Prayers for your guy to have a full recovery from whatever it is that is ailing him.

  24. Martha

    April 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Good for you Stacy for putting him first

  25. Nancy Van Wyk

    April 26, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Been there . . . :{

  26. Reta Rickert Muellemann

    April 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Sorry to hear that you are experiencing the dissapointment of missing an important competition, but in retrospect our horses are family and our partners in what ever we participate in with them. You did the right thing and the only thing you could do given the symptoms and the situation.

  27. Zana Perkins

    April 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    You know your doing the right thing, he is the most awsome horse I have ever seen and he loves you and he knows you love him by not takeing him to the Rolex. I have faith that he is going to be fine. You both will be in my prayers.

  28. Karen

    April 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    has he been checked for an ear infection or a piece of grass or something in the ear canal?

  29. Cheryl Caldwell

    April 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Do your horses get Rabies shots? Rabies in horses (when it is not the “Old Yeller” furious type) presents much like lots of other maladies (colic, lameness etc). Bats are the biggest culprit because a horse can have an encounter at night and the owner will never know it until the symptoms start to show and that could be up to 6 weeks after the contact! My past neighbor, who was also my large animal vet until he retired a couple of years ago was adamant about all horses having rabies shots. As a country vet he discovered rabies in pasture animals was not that rare.
    I also had a dog with sudden onset of balance issues and it turns out she had a vestibular condition much like
    vertigo. I wonder if horses can have that?

  30. Christin

    April 26, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Stacy, check for Lyme, Botulism and Borna! Take care

  31. Becky Newell

    April 26, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Prayers for Vaquero.

  32. Susan

    April 26, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    This is probably going to sound odd but I am so very glad that Vaquero isn’t going to be there. Many competitors would have had their eye on the prize first and the horse’s well-being second. They would have pushed him to do what he is clearly saying he can’t do right now. Of course you’re disappointed. You are a fierce competitor and a champion. But you have chosen to make that side of yourself secondary to being the caregiver of this beautiful horse. You are successful in more than one way this weekend and I am proud to be one of your fans. 8^)

  33. Kristine Nesbitt

    April 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Good for you for taking care of him. We had a similar incident happen at our ranch about a week ago. The horse presented similar symptoms and her hind end was failing. The vet came out immediately, took a look, and treated her for muscle ataxia. Sure enough, she was almost well in an hour and the next day was back to normal. After looking in our pasture that had been mowed the day before, we found she had most likely accidentally eaten some bull nettle trimmings. It was quite scary. I hope yours is a simple solution like this.

  34. Kassie Tabor

    April 26, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Praying for you and Vaquero!! Being from KY I know who you feel, I miss going to the Rolex (as a spectator) and this will be the first time in 12 yrs that I am going to have to miss the Derby.

  35. Lora

    April 26, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I had a horse stumble like he was drunk after I dismounted, and it was an inner ear infection. Hope this helps.

  36. Ashlynn Killip

    April 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Did he pinch a nerve or something? Hope he gets better!!

  37. denise benson

    April 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    We have a yearling that is going through the same thing. After approximately $3000.00 in vet bills…we still don’t know what happened. So sorry for Vaquero & you!

  38. Anita Dolan

    April 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    We have a horse recovering from Lyme’s disease with similar symptoms and were worried it was EPM. Poor Vaquero! I sure hope he feels better soon!!

  39. Nicole Murphy

    April 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Stacy…One of my horses recently seemed “off”. We thought colic but the vet ruled it out (he had normal motility etc.) he was having muscle termers (HYPP N/N) shaking his head, walking in circles aimlessly, and when he would paw he would drag his one hoof over top of the other and get stuck like that. He was fine that morning and then around 8pm this started. Turns out he had West Nile. He had been vaccinated etc. He had some ongoing symptoms (which seemed to increase with exercise) for about 5 days but the virus has run its course and he is back to normal. Just a thought….

    • Marla & Cody

      April 26, 2012 at 5:34 pm

      I was just going to say that also, my guy got west nile and it was like that only worse but my other 2 got it and they had Vaquero’s symptoms. Be sure to keep him hydrated. All 3 of mine had been vaccinated, so scary that this is making rounds again.

  40. Pam Doyal-Arabia

    April 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    You are a great owner……most people are so competitive they would have gone anyways…..just remember there will be another show, but there will never be another Vaquero. Take care of the Handsome Boy and yourself. Keep us posted on him

  41. Tina VanderEnde

    April 26, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    i so respect u for thinking more for your horses health and well being than for ur gain. u r an exceptional horsewoman and i would love to ride like u! =)

  42. Sally Leong

    April 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    God bless you for doing what is best for your horse! I hope he recovers and can lead a normal life!

  43. Tammy

    April 26, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Thank you for caring for the horse. Yes it is disappointing, but they are so good to us, we must be good to them. Hope everything turns out well. You are a true role model. Thank you for all you do for the equine industry.

  44. Julie S

    April 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    So sorry to hear about Vanquero, Stacy. My thoughts and prayers will be with you both (and your family). I know when our horses are right we just aren’t right either. Have faith in knowing God has a reason for everything, although we . I know you have been through a lot with your horses this year – my heart goes out to you. I will pray that God will provide the vets with wisdom to find out what is causing Vanquero’s odd behavior and that he will be back to his normal self, soon. Keep riding through the storm…you know God is with you always even when it doesn’t FEEL like it.

  45. susan talmage

    April 26, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    So sorry! i will be praying for a fast recovery.
    Susan Talmage

  46. Valerie Wehmueller

    April 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Dear Stacy, My family & I wish your horse Vaquero a complete & speedy recovery from whatever is ailing him! We are so sorry that he’s not well & hope you find out what is wrong soon. We got to meet you in 2009, I think, at the annual Breyerfest in the KY. Horse Park in Lexington. You love horses & it shows. We also still can’t get over what happened to poor Roxy.

  47. Tracy Hamel

    April 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    You are doing the right thing even thought it may seem disappointing! 😦 Hope he recovers soon! Good luck and keep us posted!

  48. Kim Robitaille

    April 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Stacy…..I admire your dedication to your horse and your honesty regarding your disappointment in missing your event. Every horse owner knows that disappointment and we share your concern for your horses welfare and wish him a speedy recovery!!

  49. anne

    April 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Vanquero is lucky to have you!!! You are a beautiful team with lots of love around the world.

  50. Tania

    April 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    hoping he makes a speedy recovery and as a true horse woman,u put your boy first and do not push. I believe everything happens for a reason and this may have happened to protect u both from something more sinister,as they say better luck with the next time,and will keep an eye on your post to see that all is well with him,have never experienced what u are talking about and fingers crossed i don’t sounds terrible,take care..

  51. Deb

    April 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    …and that is why we love and respect you so much–you always put your horses needs first 🙂 There are so many times we wish we could know the “whys” of things–you have certainly had your times!–but when we may not always get the answers here on earth, thankful for the comfort and confidence that the God we trust loves us and His creation (horses!) more than we could ever imagine. Not even a sparrow falls…. Praying for sweet Vaquero (loved seeing you both here in OH at the Equine Affaire). Thank you for letting us be a part of your journey

  52. John H.

    April 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I wouldn’t expect SW to do anything other than the right thing. I wish I could push the dark cloud away from Westfall folks.

  53. Jan Bradbury

    April 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Hoping for the best possible outcome, and a speedy return to the arena. I am sure you have checked Vaquero for everything, but since he was out with others, was concussion or other head trauma ruled out? My gelding that got a concussion showed no outward physical sign of trauma, just neuro symptoms. Took forever once he was diagnosed with the concussion to figure out how it happened…just a thought. God bless and keep you and your horses in His hand…

  54. Dianna Greene

    April 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    WOW Stacy ! Sending healing prayers for you and your pony!!!!

  55. Gail

    April 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Do you have a chiropractor who could check him and adjust him if necessary? My young horse had a fall at a new barn and no one told me. Immediate neurological symptoms looked like EPM–stumbling, dragging hooves, unstable. After a thorough exam at the university ruled out EPM, several months of rest, minerals & supplements gave no improvement. A chiropractor’s adjustments were what finally pulled him out of it.

    • Stacy

      April 26, 2012 at 11:14 pm

      I have used a few, I think I will take him to the vet/chiro/acupuncture one I used a few years ago on another horse with success. Nothing like a one stop appointment! lol

      • Victoria

        May 2, 2012 at 10:35 am

        I know a horse that was showing all the same symptoms of EPM and a vet diagnosed him with it, so he was taken to another vet for a second opinion and with further testing they did an x-ray of his poll area and it turned out he had run into something (probably the post in his run in shed) and damaged the first couple of vertebra in his neck. All he needed was rest and neck sweats. Hopefully it is something as simple with Vaquero. Good luck!

  56. Dakino

    April 26, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Hope Vaquero feels better soon. Always doing what’s best for the horse is the best trait a horsewoman/horseman could have.

  57. Kathy Kopylec

    April 26, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Stacy, prayers for you and Vaquero,I`m sorry this is happening my horses lately have had multiple issues one right after another and this scripture was placed on my heart hopefully it will encourage you Genesis 9:16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on earth.

  58. Majela

    April 26, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Hope Vaquero recovers quickly

  59. MP Hedges

    April 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear this! How scary. Sending positive, healing light your way.

  60. Jen

    April 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Could it be Lyme disease? Many horses in my area are coming down with similar symptoms and that has been the diagnosis. Good luck & best wishes.

  61. Shelley

    April 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    I will just say a prayer knowing he is in good hands with you, Stacy! I feel your disappointment, but you did the right thing!

  62. Jean Fine

    April 26, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Your love for Vaquero will help to heal him and your disappointment…both will take time.

  63. John Moser

    April 26, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    … and that is why we love you.

  64. Penny

    April 26, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Stacy did you look for blood or swelling in case a spider bit him. Some spiders nest underground.

    • Stacy

      April 26, 2012 at 11:12 pm

      Yep, still no marks.

  65. Kelly Gough

    April 26, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    My horse behaved this way after pulling back, and presumably, injuring her poll. She lilted to one side, looked at me sideways, and seemed out of balance. It dissipated after several days. I wondered if her ear canal had been damaged. I don’t suppose you turn them out with their halters on or that he could have raised his head quickly under a fence rail? I sure wish they could tell us!

    • Stacy

      April 26, 2012 at 11:12 pm

      No halter and 4 board fence lined with electrobraid so not likely. I did consider head trauma from a hock or a knee of another horse, something that wouldn’t leave a mark or mud (they had muddy hooves)…it is a mystery! Although I can live with a mystery if he gets better!

  66. sue

    April 26, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Hoping for a quick recovery, and an answer to the cause.

  67. Emmie

    April 26, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Hey Stac!!
    I’m praying for you guys and Vaquero.

    ..I know you guys have the best vets helping you out… but thought I would just mention equine encephalomyelitis. When I told the vet I work for this morning about Vaquero …that was the very first thing he mentioned. Comes from mosquitos and will show neuro signs. …it is in our spring and fall shots (EEE/WEE) but they can still get different versions …just thought I would mention it since it showed up so randomly. That isn’t something that you would think of at first so I thought I would just throw it out there.
    Praying! 🙂

    • Stacy

      April 26, 2012 at 11:09 pm

      Emmie-that is interesting. I had wondered out loud about a virus. He is getting steadily better. Monday and Tuesday he still had neuro signs like loss of balance. Wednesday most of that was very mild but he was still not very perky (never had a fever). Today he was pretty close to normal. Anyone off the street would probably not notice anything except maybe that he wants to carry his head slightly left (but you really only see that if you lunge him-otherwise you wouldn’t notice a difference just watching.) Can you ask him if that would fit? He was really sweet when he didn’t feel good…I can tell he is getting better cuz he is getting sassy (not bad, just that he knows he is…well, special or something!;)

      • kate

        April 28, 2012 at 10:04 pm

        Glad he’s improving – the quick improvement does sound like it might be a virus – maybe a rhino virus – one of my mares had that a couple of years ago – major symptom was head and neck stiffness and pain.

  68. Shelly Born

    April 26, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Oh no …hope he has a speedy recovery!

  69. Diane Kendrick

    April 26, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    I’m so sorry your Vaquero is not feeling well. We had a horse with the same type symptoms a few years ago. Our vet didn’t know how to help him so she sent us to the University of GA. They checked him out from top to bottom, did the spinal tap and everything! They never could determine what was wrong with him. I think he stayed at the university for 3 days with a dmso drip, then came home and was on stall rest for a short while. He made a full recovery and didn’t have any problems after that! Hopefully Vaquero will be back to his normal self real soon!

  70. Amy

    April 26, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Check for West Nile. Even though he’s probably vaccinated, he could still have it. That’s the way my horse acted when he had WNV – drunk.

  71. Debi Brown

    April 26, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    You made the right decision about the best possible one for your most wonderful little horse. I just adore that boy. Remember …”Dare to Dream “. You’ll get there. Lots of hugs to you and him.

  72. Heather

    April 27, 2012 at 1:40 am

    I hope he has a full recovery. Best of wishes to you and your horse. He doesn’t have ehv-1 does he? Because I know that has been going around.

  73. Nancy

    April 27, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Yes, while disappointing for us humans, its teh right thing to do for the horse! Always do the right thing for the horse, he tries to do the right things for us! Maybe an ear issue, any bugs in the area, or is it still too cold?

  74. Gail M.

    April 27, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Stacey, good call! i totally understand how disappointing that can be, to have to pull a show,but your guy is really what is important and what a message you are sending. Great! My coach, a very wise man, always tells me….there are always more shows, but only one horse! Hoping all goes well for you both!! 🙂

  75. Janine

    April 27, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    My prayers to you both!! xoxoxo

  76. Debbie Knebel

    April 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Hoping to see a good report today. I know how disappointing it is…SO much work and preparation, but there is a reason….God knows. Maybe another competitor needed the break to win. Another factor, if you’d gone and his immune system was compromised he might have picked up something else and compounded the situation….or, if he was contagious other’s might have had compromised immune systems and picked it up and been worse. Whatever the reason, you made the right choice and I know all of us that follow your journey knew you’d make the right decision. May the days ahead continue to show improvement and much success. Have you all in my prayers.
    God Bless!

  77. Pamela Comerford

    April 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Stacey, we had a very similar thing happen to our Morgan mare last Sept. She was hesitant to come out of her stall on Wed & Thurs but when turned out with her herd, took off galloping down the pasture as she always did. Fri night the herd came up to come in for dinner but she didn’t. I saw her midway down the field, nose to the ground, wobbling and unable to walk forward. I went down and steadied and coaxed her up to the barn & called the vet. After a 45 min thorough neuroeval, we were told she had some form of encephalitis & meningitis. Rabies, EHV, EEE, EPM and injury were the differentials. She had been vaccinated for rabies & EEE, but still a possibility. Our vet said as neurologically impaired as she was there was little hope for recovery and treatment was going to get very expensive very fast. She was 8, completely sound and healthy 2 days before, and standing there looking for help. We made the decision that as long as she was standing we were going to treat. We took blood for CBC, chemistries, and held some for further testing. Put a tunneled IV cath in and gave her 5 liters of fluid with 1liter of DMSO & Banamine. We watched & hoped and prayed she didn’t go down. She was still up the next day, more of the same, and the next day… She could walk forward willingly. We tested for EPM and started treatment but it came back negative 5 days later so we stopped it. Her labs all came back normal except for a viral shift in her white cells. We did 3 days of DMSO and 7 days of Banamine. She recovered 100%. ?EHV neuro? We may never know. She had not any contact with other horses in over a year. She may be a latent carrier. The entire herd had runny noses 14 days prior to her getting sick, but none of them had been near any other horses. We had been advised to premedicate her with Banamine before her next annual vaccinations but she had recovered 100% so we didn’t. We should have as all the symptoms returned in mild form and resolved within 3 days but scared us all over again. This year she’ll get premeditated. Best wishes that Vaccaro has a speedy full recovery.

  78. Julie S

    April 30, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Stacy, I hope Vanquero is back to his regular self again. I read something this morning and thought of you, so I hope you don’t mind if I share it. Praying it blesses you…


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