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Discussion on Epilepsy/Faints/Collapse vs nutrient deficiency

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caroline thompson
New Member
Username: Cthomp

Post Number: 1
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Monday, Jun 2, 2003 - 7:00 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello there:

I have a 15.2hh 10 year old appaloosa mare who we have owned for 4 and half years. When we bought her she was very thin, agressive and basically fearful of humans - and felt her best source of defence was to attack anyone who came near her - great! Prior to her previous owners was the breeder and they in fact brought her on very well and were very proud of her spots and she was shown in various classes and appaloosa shows with much success in hand. However, she was backed at a very young age (I think she was about 2and a half) by a fairly average to heavy female which set her on the road to distrust and lots of tension in her body.

Why did we buy her you wonder - well for all the wrong reasons, she was the first horse we saw, and I felt extremely sorry for her when we saw what state she was in and felt she needed a good home quickly. Anyway after much worrying and sleepness nights and been bitten, and threatened etc. etc.. we now have an almost friendly mare who is basically mareish but otherwise can be lovely and kind and gentle and is lovely looking and to ride. We mainly hack and have started endurance/long distance riding which she thoroughly enjoys, especially when it means she can bound along with a lively arab chap. And this year she really has begun to look like a proper horse, good figure and well muscles, then disaster - at the beginning of the year, we had just returned from a training ride (so a reasonably fast/hard work ride) and coming up our drive she stopped from a trot and dropped her head to grab some grass (I know very bad manners) then almost instantly lifted her head and rolled her eyes and started to turn in circles and not feel too secure so I dismounted and basically pulled her out of whatever she was experiencing adn the next minute she was trotting up the drive with me hanging on and by the time we got to the stables seemed absolutely fine - no outward signs that anything untoward had happend. So we shrugged it off thinking perhaps it was something she had smelt. So life carried on and in March of this year she had her third outing in the trailer to a ride 2 and half hours drive away. Bit of long way and also rather early in the season plus an early start. All possibly leading to extra stress for Holly - so, arrived at venue with Holly having spent most of the journey with her head over the partition of the trailer watching the traffic - at the venue husband led her out of trailler and walked her round and I signed in for the ride - 5 minutes later all hopes dashed of a ride as Holly had dropped her head to graze and next minute had fainted/collapsed but as soon as it had happened had got up and seemed if somewhat puzzled but otherwise OK. heart rate a bit high not surprisingly but soon came back to normal. Blood test was taken by the vet on scene and all a bit worried. The collapse had been a half rear and then down roll over a bit of a twitch with her legs (but nothing drastic like some of the experiences posted here) then she got up and aparently acted as if nothing had happened.
After this my vet saw her a also took a blood sample the next day and checked her heart on a ECG machine. All abosultely fine (sorry about spelling rambling on here) So we put her on some asprin and put it down to possibly a momentary blockage in a small artery. Possibly given her history some migratory worm larva She then went on to compete highly successfully in three 25 mile rides and travel long distances in the trailer and generally everything was going along great, and I was looking forward to ride no 4 this last Sunday. Over the Spring bank holiday weekend, we took part in a local show - This wasn't our best day and later in the day (so we could both chill out/relax) took her for a short ride. Unfortunately, this perhaps was all a bit much for her (stress again) because the following day - she and her mate came into their respective stables for breakfast and she promptly spent the rest of the morning asleep or semi awake. We were going out so at lunchtime woke them up and Bonnie (her mate) scrambled up and went out in to the field but Holly although got up quickly enough really was quite awake - and she can be a bit lethargic from time to time but unfortunately I didn't let her totally wake up and when I took her out into field she sort of stood there for a second or two looking slightly dazed perhaps by the bright sunshine, then dropped her head and the next minute fainted again. Same as before half rear and circles, and roll and a twitch of legs then up and all over very quickly. And is now fine again. However we (vet included) decided a second opinion should be sought which unfortunately was not good, the referral vet without even seeing Holly had decided she was epileptic and that was it was for her - and had no other conclusive evidence apart from what what we had described because of course more blood tests and the senses testing all proved that she was absolutely fine and healthy. I have since been trying to work out when and how these could have occurred, and things seem to point to possibly stressful situations in her eyes before the collapses happen. Probably nothing but today, as I am also slightly concerned about her lethargy, when she is fairly high energy food, spoke to a horse feed nutritionist about what I was feeding her on and how much I feed her a day etc.. and it does appear that I have been under feeding her - not that she is thin or underweight but that the food I have been giving her i have been giving her quite small quanities and this particular mix should apparently be fed at higher quanitites so that the horse gets his/her full quota of minerals and nutrients. So perhaps with the increase of work this year but not a particular increase (so possibley lack of all the required nutrients etc in her diet) in the portions of her feed as she is quite a good doer - although I do make sure hay is about adlib, has in some situations brought on these collapses. So I have been advised to put her on another feeding stuff which can be given at lower levels but still supply the horse with enough nutrients and minerals etc to work to level she needs to, happily and to be honest is advertised at being more suited to the type of work I do with her. So after all that long tirade I wonder if you could enlighten me with regard to epilepsy being brought on by nutrient deficiency as listed in your notes on epilepsy. I am very concerned that at the moment her outlook is not good and I cannot really believe that after all she and we ahve gone through that as soon as she appears to be coming good that we have to write her off. If there is any possible link between her diet and these sudden collapses and I am desperately hoping there might be this would be the best news every because hopefully I can sort out her diet and then we could put all this behind us and start to look foward again..... Please please.... I would greatly appreciate any information/positive (if there can be) thoughts on this. She is a lovely horse and after all she has been through deserves a break.....

If you get to the end of these ramblings my apologies for the length but rather than try and edit now this is straight from the heart.

Looking forward to hearing from you
Caroline and Holly
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 8512
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 3, 2003 - 7:18 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Epilepsy, by definition, is episodic seizures of unknown cause. Though seizures can be do to nutritional or toxic causes these are usually not episodic with periods of normal between. The article on epilepsy gives specific therapy and you should also look at the article on narcolepsy in the same section as the article on seizures.
DrO
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Helen Weedon
Member
Username: Cara2

Post Number: 68
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 3, 2003 - 8:17 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Caroline,

As you mentioned the Spring Bank Holiday would I be right in thinking you are in the UK?

I see quite a few familiar things in your posting compared with my mare's experiences. I could just SCREAM when vets say there's nothing to be done, have the horse put down and collect the insurance payout. At the end of this month my horse will be "celebrating" 5 years of continuous drug taking for her epilepsy, and while it hasn't all been plain sailing , I have no regrets about making that decision and she has led a near-normal life. I would generally have been in the showing season with her now, but last November she sustained a suspected suspensory ligament injury and you don't get one of those if you are stuck in a stable as a sick animal 24/7.

One thing caught my eye - you say she has been a bit sluggish lately. Please have her liver enzymes checked. I keep a national database of cases (and some international ones too!) and several recent ones have been found to have liver problems. A course of injections (B vitamins I would imagine) and all of them have stopped having seizures and started being their old lively selves again. If your mare has had a bad time previously she might have been eating all sorts of rubbish including ragwort.

My mare's seizures are triggered by eating too!

Helen
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caroline thompson
Member
Username: Cthomp

Post Number: 2
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 3, 2003 - 11:09 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dear Dr O

Many thanks for your reply and OK not quite as hopeful as I had expected but I will read the notes on epilepsy and narcolepsy and see if anything can be gleaned to relate to Holly's condition. Tomorrow I have a holistic/homeopathic vet coming to see her and fire questions at me in the hope that we can try an eliminate some possibilities and possibly see if there might be some remedy to keep any further attacks at bay. One thing I have done today (while Holly was still asleep in the stable this morning!) I sat down and worked out how much I have been feeding her in relation to her work load and I am very embarrassed to say this but on the level of work she is doing I have been giving her less than half what she should be having. In fact according to my bible for getting horses fit which also gives all the formulas for correct feeding, I seem to have been giving her just enough to keep up just above maintenance level - hardly enough for a girl being asked to travel distances and then go at speed for 25 miles. So although you say that the nutritional thing might be a red herring, my gut feelings are that these collapses may be linked to nutrition. I just feel that the three instances at the time were stressful (and she does suffer from stress - like we all do! me especially at the moment) and therefore perhaps owing to lack of energy, sufficient vits, nutriants in her diet, may have just tipped her over the edge into a temporary collapose/faint/seizure or perhaps just a dizzy spell (as all three times have also been when she has dropped her head to eat - rush of blood to head and all that!). Have to cling to some hope for her and do have to say that at the moment she does seem very tired (but that could be the weather, time of year, being a mare etc.. - I notice from Helen the idea to have her liver checked just in case there is anything happening there) and put the weight tape on her today, before exercise about 440kgs on return after a gentle 5 mile wander round our local woods with our collie dog, I put the tape on her and she had dropped to around 421/435 kgs! Not good after such a short ride so I am taking the advice of the nutritionist and looking to perhaps increase her feed slowly over the course of the next couple of weeks and also change to the suggested feedstuff and see if this will give her the lift we need and also of course note the length of time before the next attack/why she collapses again (though I shall hope and pray that they don't return....)

Once again thanks i'll keep you posted!

Caroline and HOlly
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caroline thompson
Member
Username: Cthomp

Post Number: 3
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 3, 2003 - 11:25 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Helen,

Very many thanks for your up-beat email - have to say I was very encouraged by all the postings I have read about your mare and to hear you say that she has been on a course of drugs for the condition for the last five years and in that time you have continued to show her and ride is wonderful to hear. I shall mention the liver business to the vet I am seeing tomorrow (see the long tirade to Dr O above) and see if thinks there may be something there. Meanwhile I shall sort her diet out and see if any herbs or homeopathy can help.

Once again many thanks - as you may well imagine this has been one hell of a week, work has gone by the by, I feel I have aged by at least 10 years and lost a load of weight and all I keep thinking about is WHY? So I am counting magpies, looking at the new moon (not through glass) and generally keeping fingers crossed for a positive end to this - If this does work out for us it does make you wonder about some people in authority - how they can just dismiss an animal without any real evidence - all I was told was no conclusive evidence but clinical signs (i.e. the brief muscle spasm before she got up) mean epileptic and therefore a write-off - I suppose to them horses/animals in general are replacable, unlike humans! Aaargh!

I will keep you posted of events.

all the best
Caroline and Holly
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 8515
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 3, 2003 - 10:58 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Caroline, you do not feed by looking at the numbers in a book, or even looking at the absolute weight. You feed by looking at the condition of the horse. For more on this see our article on nutrition overview in the care section. I can get a weight tape to read plus or minus 40 lbs pretty easy, the difference may simply be attributable to a bit of water loss and the fact that very small changes in position in the tape can result in these variations.
DrO
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caroline thompson
Member
Username: Cthomp

Post Number: 4
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 4, 2003 - 7:18 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thank you for your rather stern note above and yes I have looked at your articles on nutrition and paddock/pasture nutrition etc.. I agree you do not feed by looking at numbers in a book and seeing what a horses weight should be. But as formulas to work out how much digestable energy and type of food is needed is as good as guidline as any to follow. And no I most certainly never ever feed to the recommended general levels. Unfortunately in the instance of Holly I have been giving her foodstuff which, according to the manufacture of the feed really is not suited to low intake. Now I know you would say, well the feed manufacture would say that, but the same feed manufacture has suggested another feed which is they also produce which is more suited to low intake and to pleasure riding (and is no more expensive either). Hence changing to we hope a more suitable nut. Gone are the days when it was just horse and pony nuts, oats and bran. Life was simpler then but then we perhaps were not expecting so much from our equine friends.

I know this is the wrong site but I feel a little peeved at your response. One reason for worrying about Holly's diet is that after our last endurance ride (25 miles) at the beginning of May she lost condition and did look very peeky although a week off she picked up again, and yes she does look very good this year, (so difficult to judge whether or not feed is right if she is looking good) she is well covered but not too much - can still feel her ribs and her coat shines and she looks the picture of health most of the time. At the moment she doesn't (and that I have put down to all the stress of the last week). So I do assure you I am aware of how to judge a horses condition by just looking but I am also aware that, at least for this horse, sometimes one does need to look a little closer at such things as nutritional values to make sure that the horse is able to cope with life and work you expect it to do and in Holly's case, I am aware that although when just been ridden locally, pottering round the field and generally have a fairly easy time of it she does look in extremely good nick, and behaves as such, but on occasions which things aren't quite the status quo for her for whatever reason, (possibly time of year, seasons, change in routine, long rides, etc...) she does tire easily, and at the moment is looking somewhat angular. After rides she is great at yawning and giving you the tired eye look. And after a particularly hard day/ride sleeps a lot. I do have a 29 year old highland who I have had for over 10 years and at the grand old age of 23 started doing endurance riding and had a season successfully doing 25 miles distance rides and still shows a lot more umph than Holly does and is a lot more busy in her nature. Our pasture is not good (and during the winter months both horses are stabled at night) and although I do rotate and strip graze we still do not lots of good grazing, so we do rely on haynets throughout the year. Probably ideal for a native breed but perhaps not always ideal for an appaloosa in full work without some topping up of the fuel by the right feedstuff. So whatever reason is causing the collapses this year nutrition is certainly one area which I will continue to study in relation to Holly - I have printed out your articles so have plenty of bedtime reading.
all the best.
Caroline
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caroline thompson
Member
Username: Cthomp

Post Number: 5
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 4, 2003 - 7:28 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Dr O

As a postscript to the above - I was relying too much on hay and grass as her hard feed intake a day was about 800 grammes (about 1.5lbs of hard feed) - I have just increased it slightly to just over 2lbs of hard/compound feed a day.

Caroline
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Elizabeth Donahue
Member
Username: Paul303

Post Number: 342
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 4, 2003 - 8:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Caroline - One thing I've always noticed in 40 yrs. with horses, is to feed to each horse's needs. Every animal's system is unique, and finding the balance for each particular animal can be challenging sometimes. If I were in your shoes, I'd begin with excellent quality hay
(hard to find at times, so if you luck into a source, be ruthless about protecting it ). Soon as possible, work up to free feed on the hay, and add a sweet or high performance feed, increasing it until your horse looks and behaves the way you want. I'd also do some heavy duty bloodwork - with an eye on those diagnostic tests pertaining to performance issues...just for your own peace of mind. I assume large volumes of water are always available and that you bring your own supply from home for him at competitions. I also gather that his recovery time during vet checks at endurance rides is normal.
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Helen Weedon
Member
Username: Cara2

Post Number: 69
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, Jun 5, 2003 - 7:55 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi again Caroline. I know exactly what you mean about feeding. If I gave Cara what the books say I should she would completely explode! She runs on nervous energy and is always a tad on the lean side (well for showing anyway) but looks muscular. Interestingly her backside has put on a noticeable amount of weight since she has been on "holiday" with her leg problem. She looks bonny as opposed to super-fit at the moment. Do you give Holly sugar beet? Cara has a top-dressing of SpeediBeet, great stuff which makes sure she gets some water (she doesn't drink much at all for her size) and cured her colitis almost overnight so she is able to get the maximum goodness from her feed.

By the way, I too wondered if Cara's seizures were something to do with low blood sugar and putting her head down to eat/graze so I had her urine tested but nothing showed up. Check out Holly's neck and back too, a trapped nerve is always a possibility. Did your vet do the full neuro work-up, pushing the head up and back etc?

Where in the UK are you?

Helen
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caroline thompson
Member
Username: Cthomp

Post Number: 6
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Friday, Jun 6, 2003 - 8:59 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Elizabeth and Helen

Very many thanks for all your comments - all much appreciated. Elizabeth yes, I have always rather relied on high forage/fibre diet with plenty of good hay and this has always been fine for horses have had - Holly I think I just lost my way a bit owing to all her other problems. Yes we have had her back checked, manipulated and clicked and certainly that was something that needed to be done and she improved greatly after that and really we thought we had cracked it. However we are now concentrating on the feeding, and stress/tension which she has in bucketloads. Somewhere in her past something really caused her to tense up and although we have had times when she has relaxed (especially out on LD rides) and she has been absolutely tremendous at the moment, possibly cos of being a female and the recent collapse the stress and tension has returned big time. So back on the Bach Rescue Remedy and hopefully a homeopathic remedy to help her - we are still confident that one day, one day this horse will realise her potential.

Once again many thanks for your kind words -

best wishes
Caroline and Holly
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 8534
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Jun 6, 2003 - 3:55 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Caroline,
I apologize, I did not mean to sound stern, it is just that your post sounded like you were putting more weight on your figures on the paper than the visual appearance of the condition of the horse. An often made mistake in horse nutrition.

I hate to follow up my "stern note" on nutrition with a standard public announcement but that is my job here: The Advisor does not believe homeopathy is legitamate therapy as there is no physical, chemical, or biological mechanism for this to work. Current careful comprehensive reviews of the science on homeopathy does not indicate it is effective therapy. For more on this see the many discussions at BULLETIN BOARD members only The Lounge: Kick back and relax. Alternative Medicine and Epistomology. On the other hand folks with horses with narcolepsy usually do not have trouble managing this problem as attacks during a work out are not common. Have you had a chance to review the articles on epilepsy and narcolepsy listed above.
DrO
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Elizabeth Donahue
Member
Username: Paul303

Post Number: 345
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Saturday, Jun 7, 2003 - 1:09 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Yikes!
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caroline thompson
Member
Username: Cthomp

Post Number: 7
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Saturday, Jun 7, 2003 - 11:48 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Dr O

Thanks for your reply and I yes I have read all the articles (or as many as I can) pertaining to all Holly's problems. The more I read the more problems she seems to have! As well as a high tension and stress level in her she also appears to suffer from particularly 'bad' seasons, which in the past we have just pottered through and come out the other side, this year unfortunately this hasn't quite happened. Now all I need to do is to try and check when and how and where she actually comes into season. Certainly her behaviour has always been very mareish and we have tried all sorts of things but without realising the potential to seizures and the like have really just carried on and worked through those bad days. One thing that did come out of her examination the other day was a ultrasound check of her ovaries and they are seemingly abnormally large both of them which could explain some of her discomfort at present. Something we perhaps need to have another look at again in a few months time to see if they have reverted to normal size.

Hey ho.... problem with animals discover one major problem then the more one reads the more problems one sees, just ongoing - pity really, cos summer is the best time for horse owners and seemingly the worst time for mares.

all the best
Caroline
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 8958
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Monday, Aug 18, 2003 - 2:39 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Christine I have moved this post into the post on seizures you have started.
DrO
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