Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Mystery Malady

For most of the month, my mare Melody has had a mystery malady.

Something is wrong with her left hind end. At first she just walked slower than usual. Then she lifted her leg awkwardly when she walked—almost as if she was peddling a tricycle. Then, for a while, she lifted her leg much higher and in a more exaggerated manner.

There was no swelling or heat anywhere on the leg. Mel didn't seem to be in any pain. Her appetite was good. She just didn't move right.

At first, the vet suspected a hoof abscess because there was a bit of heat in her left hind hoof, she reacted to application of the hoof testers, and there was a hoof crack where infection might have begun. Her hoof was packed and bandaged, but the suspected place never drained.

For a while, when she was jerking her leg high, we thought she had stringhalt. For a couple of days, she moved just like this affected horse in a You-Tube video. Stress can produce stringhalt, and she'd been pretty stressed about her pasture-mate's death in August. Plus, being an only horse for the first time in her life had to be stressful.

I Googled, I posted on an equine line I subscribe to, and I posted on Facebook. I received much advice (mainly for stringhalt) but, after a few days, Mel didn't look very string-halty anymore. She was still way off in her stride, though. I suspected neurological damage of some sort. Did she have lyme disease? The beagle had just tested positive for lyme, so that was a possibility. The vet pulled some blood, just in case.

It was possible that she'd eaten something she shouldn't—false dandelions maybe, so I closed her out of the front field. Since migrations of small strongyles can cause stringhalt, she was wormed heavily—and produced a load of pinworms but no strongyles that I could see. I switched her feed to a lower carb, higher fat type of pellet.

A few days later, her movement wasn't as exaggerated, but it was still awkward. This video taken last week shows her walking awkwardly.

Figuring that some body work would make Mel feel better, I emailed Ruth Mitchell, a myofascial release specialist who's worked on me, a couple of cats, and Mel in the past. Ruth had to be out of town and wouldn't be able to see Mel until last night.

Meanwhile, I told Ruth where to find Mel's video I posted on Facebook. She looked at it and emailed back that it looked like fibrotic myopathy to her. I Googled fibrotic myopathy and found videos of horses who walked like Mel herehere and here.

When Ruth came, she found the problem pretty quickly. When she put my hand on the affected place, I could feel its rock-hardness. Ruth said the muscles affected were the Biceps Femoris, Semitendinosis, and Gracilis. Here's approximately where the affected area is:

While there's no cure for this condition, it can be alleviated. Ruth worked on Mel for an hour. For the most part, Mel loved the treatment. 

Afterwards, I could notice a slight improvement in how Mel moved. The stride wasn't as short. The goose-step wasn't as exaggerated.

Here's today's video:

Melody has another treatment scheduled in two weeks. We'll see how it goes then.



Blogger Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

That was the first thing I was thinking--something to do with the stifle. But yeah, I can see that lump in the back.

I didn't know worms could cause stringhalt! I also didn't know stress could cause it. Very good to know!

10:54 PM  
Blogger R.M. said...

Glad you are getting to the bottom of this. She's been through a lot this year, too, poor Mel!

2:57 PM  

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