Wobbles Disease

Wobbles disease is used to cover any type of neurological disorder that makes a horse uncoordinated or wobbly on its feet. A horse with neurological issues doesn't always know where it is putting its feet and can be very unstable and fall over often, becoming dangerous ot humans and to itself. In the past it has been believed that there is no cure. One of the neurological problems that falls under wobblers disease is spinal compression. This is where there is pressure on the spinal cord when the horse flexes its neck...

The signs are most prominent in the hind limbs but do also effect the forelimbs. Both sides of the body are affected to a similar degree, unlike the asymmetry observed with EPM(Equine protozoal myelitis.) Wobbles results from physical impingement/compression of the spinal cord as it courses down the neck in areas where the vertebrae are unstable. The major effect of compression of the cervical spinal cord is a reduction in the horse's sens of where his legs are at a specific time. The affected horse is at risk for falling during training, exercise, or even walking out of the stall. Often, the trainer notes that the horse has fallen during training and, following the fall, it was clearly evident that incoordination and weakness were apparent. Typically, the prominent neurological symptoms following a fall have been attributed to the affect of trauma to the neck during the fall.

The exact causes are unknown. Many factors include genetics, nutritional imbalances, rapid growth, physical trauma and/or a combination of these. Male horses out number females with the condition THREE to one.

In the past the only resolution for advanced and severe spinal compression was euthanasia, however unknown to the majority of the equine world, thre is a cure. A cure that is over 85% successful to bringing a horse back to 100% usable and safe again. What is found even more amazing is that not only is there a cure, but the level of advancement and success is also largely unknown to a huge amount of equine vets.
Early intervention and treatment is the key to success. Some veterinary surgeons in the United States have recently devised a surgical procedure adapted from human surgery called the Cloward Method for fusing vertebrea. The surgical technique involves drilling a hole between the affected vertebral bodies from underneiath the neck and inserting a stainless steel prosthesis called a Bagby Basket which fuses and immobilizes the vertebrae.

This is Simply Fearless "Fears" Story

When Fear was a yearling, he slipped on the ice and tore his stifle.  Sort of like tearing a ham string in a human.  Stifles take a long time to heal and after months of rest, he was well on his way to healing.  However each spring and fall when he would have his growth spurt, he would develop lameness issues.  With him being such a tall horse (16H at 2 years old) his bones would grow faster than his tendons and it would take a while for everything to stretch out and the lameness to go away.  During this time there was also stress on his already weak stifle. 
This summer he had a huge growth spurt and even after the tendons had stretched back out he was still limping.  In September we took Fear to Anoka Vet Clinic for x-rays, to see if he needed surgery on his joint.  Turns out he does, there is some tendon issues as well as some bone chips that started out as cartilage and are now calcifying rather than being reabsorbed by his body.  What the x-rays and mylagram also showed was possible spinal compression in two vertebras of his neck.  Fear's x-rays were sent to KY to a facility called Rood and Riddle, who are the leading experts in spinal compression in horses and have perfected a vertebrae fusing procedure to resolve the compression and in most cases bring the horse back 100%.  This is the only resolution to this type of neurological issue.  Rood and Riddle is also the equine hospital that did several of these surgeries on Seattle Slew.

After several weeks of waiting, we finally heard back from them and Fear, unfortunately does have spinal compression.  Because it is only in two vertebrae, they feel he is a prime candidate for the spinal surgery and should recover completely.  As with humans that have back surgery, it is a long recovery process(8-9 months) and the horse has to be hospitalized for a week and then spend a month in an equine rehab facility before it is released to come home for the remaining 7 months of rehabilitation.  Due to the lengthy recovery process the spinal surgery takes, it is not feasible to take him down to KY this fall, with winter fast approaching, so he will be making the long journey down there in the spring.  Where he will have his stifle surgery done at the same time as the spinal fusion. 

Monday, January 12, 2009

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