Let's Talk... Rehab for the EPM Horse
💁 Let's Talk... Rehabbing the EPM Horse ⬇️⬇️⬇️
This is a question we answer A LOT!! There are so many options for treatments, so many different vet opinions, and so many different symptoms for EPM. So I wanted to run through some facts and suggestions to help you and your horse.
1. Different strains of EPM - What are you treating? - We have discovered through studies that EPM can present in different ways... Sarcocystis neurona is your textbook neurologic form. These are the horses recognized by tripping, falling, and not knowing where their feet are. These are the ones that fail the tail pull test and feet crossing test. Sarcocystis fayeri causes atrophy of the muscle. These horses usually present as poor performers, changes in attitude, no topline with good feeding program, body soreness, heat intolerance, ulcers, clumsiness, lethargic, dull coat, vision issues... Just to name a few... It's kind of your "Ain't Doing Right syndrome".
2. So you and your vet have chosen the correct treatment option... Awesome! So now what? ⬇️ There are many treatment options out there. Personally we use a Toltrazuril/DMSO compound (28 day treatment), but there are many other methods to treat also. Once you've picked your treatment method, you need to make a plan of action to get your horse back to original performance.
3. Immune System - This is so important!! Most horses that present with symptoms are performance horses. These are your horses being hauled to new environments, under stress of showing, exposed to all kinds of factors that weaken the immune system. Many performance horses also have ulcers which weakens the immune system. You can have a group of horses exposed to EPM and the ones with weaker immune systems will be the ones that show symptoms.
So we talk a lot about strengthening the immune system. We have our favorite supplement for that but a healthy gut is just as important. If their belly is on fire from ulcers, supplements don't get utilized properly anyway. Fix the gut first!! Then work on keeping that immune system strong. 💪💪💪
4. Reconditioning - Here's where I'm going to climb on my soapbox... Sorry not sorry.... 💬
I see it all the time. People treat their horse, he seems better... So they go right back to running... The horse works good for a bit and then relapses... Then they blame their vet, say the meds don't work, or they sell the horse.... YOU HAVE TO REBUILD THE LOST MUSCLE TO HAVE A FUNCTIONAL ATHLETE!! A football player doesn't have surgery and then play a game a month later because he feels better. No, he rebuilds his body correctly through therapy and exercise. Without correct rehab, you risk causing other problems like hock pain, muscle tears, and lasting soreness.
👉 Now we have an incredible success rate with our rehab program using our Aquatred and PEMF, but today I want to discuss options you can do at your home for your horse.
Stretches - You can find my video about stretching the hind end on our page (I'll post another link in the comments). Do everything you can do to increase circulation, especially in the hind end of the horse.
Backing up - We are huge believers in backing for exercise. You can start with backing on a flat surface and then move up to backing up and down and incline. Just make sure your horse isn't dragging their feet. They need to have some spark to their back or it doesn't create a lot of fitness.
Riding Different Terrains - Riding from hard to soft ground, Sandy to clay. Through water puddles. Changing terrain makes your horse think about where he's placing his feet. This will help retrain the brain, especially if your horse became abnormally spooky before treatment. We find that it really affects their ability to judge distance.
Trotting poles - I post pole drills in our discussion group because I feel like pole exercises really help bring back that topline and range of motion. You need to keep your horse separating and using all feet to get the best benefits.
5. Random Observations of EPM - Here are a few things we've noticed working with EPM horses. Behavior is one of the first noticed changes... You know your horse, so always be aware of weird changes without reason. Heat Intolerance - These horses don't do well in extreme heat, so boost your immune system and watch for signs of struggle in the summertime. (I usually choose to pre-treat before it gets hot) Prevention - Take a good profile pic of your horse once a month so you can document any changes in weight or muscle. Joint Injections - Steroid depletes the immune system, so watch for a flare up if you have to do joint Injections.
💁 We hope this post helps! We specialize in EPM reconditioning and so we would love to answer any questions you have on the rehab side. For the veterinary side, we suggest calling our vet, Sam Crosby (405) 650-7686. Also, join our group for more great information! Happy Trails!