Today's life lesson, brought to you courtesy of Riley, is to listen to your horse when something just isn't right.
For the past few weeks, Riley has been mildly slipping behind. At first, I thought that it was just the grass was so slick, so I rode him in the arena, where he slipped just as often. It was neither predictable nor major, so even though I wasn't terribly worried, I had Dr. Martha perform a physical neurological exam. Riley was slightly positive to some tests, but he'd been off all spring in the hind leg where he showed muscle weakness, and he's never been one to back up, so we weren't all that worried. I had Doug add borium to his shoes later that week with the hopes that the slipping would stop.
Because it didn't stop, last Wednesday Dr. Martha came out to pull blood in order to run a peptide SAG ELISA test. The test is relatively new, but is much more accurate than the old blood test- Dr. Martha rated it at about 80% accuracy. According to the interwebs, the test "looks for the presence of antibodies specific to three surface antigens (SAG-1, 5, and 6) created by the protozoa." The bolo had to be sent down to Florida, so I had a few days of waiting with my fingers crossed (although we were fairly comfortable that he was ok).
During her exam of Riley, she recommended that I have Pam out for his back. Pam came on Friday and was hopeful that some of the adjustments would help with the slipping because of the odd location of some of his fixations in his cervical vertebrae. Since last week, his slipping has been getting worse, so unfortunately it was not as simple as a back adjustment.
The results of the test finally came in last night, and Riley tests abnormal/low positive for SAG-1 and SAG-5. He tests normal for SAG-6. I honestly have to admit that I cried a bit after I listened to Dr. Martha's voicemail. The last thing that Riley deserves is to slowly have his neurologic capacities slip away. But if I want to be frank, the last thing that Will deserved was to die, so the bottom line is that shit happens, even to wonderful, giving animals that don't deserve it. So to be positive, if Riley had to have an EPM diagnosis, there a few good things going for him:
- The peptide SAG ELISA test also indicates which drugs might be most effective. A high SAG-6 is more rare and less treatable, so I'm thankful that his abnormal tests are for the more treatable forms of the protozoa.
- I caught it very early. Right now, Riley maybe tests at a 1 for the physical signs (apparently weight loss is one of the symptoms, and we all know Riley isn't facing that yet!). Dr. Martha said that we have a very good chance of Riley having a full recovery and continuing to event at the BN/N levels.
- The particular drug that we've chosen to treat the EPM with, Oroquin-10, is relatively new, but shows promising rates of efficacy, hopefully without the same rates/risk of relapse associated with Marquis. Plus it's cheaper than Marquis.
Dr. Martha said she would contact Wickliffe today with the hopes of getting Riley's drugs as soon as possible. I am SO happy that I did the right thing and listened closely to my horse. I've had Riley for 6 years, and even though he was gone for 1 1/2 of those years, I know him well enough to know when something isn't right. I'm very hopeful for Riley's prognosis because not only does he have the best support team ever, but because we caught this early.
Oh, and as a heads up, expect some very adorable pictures of Riley and Cole tonight or tomorrow. They're new BFFs in the paddock out front- last night I even caught them sharing grass! And perhaps the blog will even get an update about Cole's grid work tonight! And as a closing note, if you're lucky enough to have a pony, you need to give him/her extra hugs and treats- you never know what life is going to throw in the way, and showing your appreciation makes it a lot easier to face.