Disappointing…but the right thing for the horse.

I should be writing this post from Lexington, Kentucky…but I am not.

I should be at the Kentucky Horse Park preparing to show Vaquero in the freestyle reining class at the Rolex…but I am not.

I have mixed emotions about not being there. I was really looking forward to showing him. I had prepared him for it by taking him to the Dixie Nationals in February and designed that routine to ‘put money in the bank’ for the Rolex.

Then I used the demos at the Equine Affaire in Ohio for further preparation. He rode great just this last Thursday and Friday.

The short story is that on Sunday night when he came in from being turned out with three other pasture-mates he wasn’t right. He had the appearance of being slightly drunk, complete with being slightly uncoordinated and easily off balance.

He appeared to have the symptoms of EPM although it was too sudden (I hope) for that which seemed to point towards some type of injury. But he had no marks; no mud on his blankets to show that he had slipped or been kicked or reared and gone over backward…or any clues.

We have been treating him and he has been improving although he is still not quite right. His head tilt to the left is still there although he has lost the slightly drunk look.

I know that skipping the show was the right decision to make. I just wish knowing it was the right decision would take away the disappointed feeling, but apparently it is possible, and maybe even probable that I can and will experience both.

At this point I just want my cute pony to feel better!


  1. Julie S on April 30, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Stacy, I hope Vanquero is back to his regular self again. I read something this morning and thought of you, so I hope you don’t mind if I share it. Praying it blesses you… http://www.joelosteen.com/MessageViewer/Pages/MessageViewer.aspx?date=2012-04-30

  2. Pamela Comerford on April 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Stacey, we had a very similar thing happen to our Morgan mare last Sept. She was hesitant to come out of her stall on Wed & Thurs but when turned out with her herd, took off galloping down the pasture as she always did. Fri night the herd came up to come in for dinner but she didn’t. I saw her midway down the field, nose to the ground, wobbling and unable to walk forward. I went down and steadied and coaxed her up to the barn & called the vet. After a 45 min thorough neuroeval, we were told she had some form of encephalitis & meningitis. Rabies, EHV, EEE, EPM and injury were the differentials. She had been vaccinated for rabies & EEE, but still a possibility. Our vet said as neurologically impaired as she was there was little hope for recovery and treatment was going to get very expensive very fast. She was 8, completely sound and healthy 2 days before, and standing there looking for help. We made the decision that as long as she was standing we were going to treat. We took blood for CBC, chemistries, and held some for further testing. Put a tunneled IV cath in and gave her 5 liters of fluid with 1liter of DMSO & Banamine. We watched & hoped and prayed she didn’t go down. She was still up the next day, more of the same, and the next day… She could walk forward willingly. We tested for EPM and started treatment but it came back negative 5 days later so we stopped it. Her labs all came back normal except for a viral shift in her white cells. We did 3 days of DMSO and 7 days of Banamine. She recovered 100%. ?EHV neuro? We may never know. She had not any contact with other horses in over a year. She may be a latent carrier. The entire herd had runny noses 14 days prior to her getting sick, but none of them had been near any other horses. We had been advised to premedicate her with Banamine before her next annual vaccinations but she had recovered 100% so we didn’t. We should have as all the symptoms returned in mild form and resolved within 3 days but scared us all over again. This year she’ll get premeditated. Best wishes that Vaccaro has a speedy full recovery.

  3. Debbie Knebel on April 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Hoping to see a good report today. I know how disappointing it is…SO much work and preparation, but there is a reason….God knows. Maybe another competitor needed the break to win. Another factor, if you’d gone and his immune system was compromised he might have picked up something else and compounded the situation….or, if he was contagious other’s might have had compromised immune systems and picked it up and been worse. Whatever the reason, you made the right choice and I know all of us that follow your journey knew you’d make the right decision. May the days ahead continue to show improvement and much success. Have you all in my prayers.
    God Bless!

  4. Janine on April 27, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    My prayers to you both!! xoxoxo

  5. Gail M. on April 27, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Stacey, good call! i totally understand how disappointing that can be, to have to pull a show,but your guy is really what is important and what a message you are sending. Great! My coach, a very wise man, always tells me….there are always more shows, but only one horse! Hoping all goes well for you both!! 🙂

  6. Nancy on April 27, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Yes, while disappointing for us humans, its teh right thing to do for the horse! Always do the right thing for the horse, he tries to do the right things for us! Maybe an ear issue, any bugs in the area, or is it still too cold?

  7. Heather on April 27, 2012 at 1:40 am

    I hope he has a full recovery. Best of wishes to you and your horse. He doesn’t have ehv-1 does he? Because I know that has been going around.

  8. Debi Brown on April 26, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    You made the right decision about the best possible one for your most wonderful little horse. I just adore that boy. Remember …”Dare to Dream “. You’ll get there. Lots of hugs to you and him.

  9. Amy on April 26, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Check for West Nile. Even though he’s probably vaccinated, he could still have it. That’s the way my horse acted when he had WNV – drunk.

  10. Diane Kendrick on April 26, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    I’m so sorry your Vaquero is not feeling well. We had a horse with the same type symptoms a few years ago. Our vet didn’t know how to help him so she sent us to the University of GA. They checked him out from top to bottom, did the spinal tap and everything! They never could determine what was wrong with him. I think he stayed at the university for 3 days with a dmso drip, then came home and was on stall rest for a short while. He made a full recovery and didn’t have any problems after that! Hopefully Vaquero will be back to his normal self real soon!

  11. Shelly Born on April 26, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Oh no …hope he has a speedy recovery!

  12. Emmie on April 26, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Hey Stac!!
    I’m praying for you guys and Vaquero.

    ..I know you guys have the best vets helping you out… but thought I would just mention equine encephalomyelitis. When I told the vet I work for this morning about Vaquero …that was the very first thing he mentioned. Comes from mosquitos and will show neuro signs. …it is in our spring and fall shots (EEE/WEE) but they can still get different versions …just thought I would mention it since it showed up so randomly. That isn’t something that you would think of at first so I thought I would just throw it out there.
    Praying! 🙂

    • Stacy on April 26, 2012 at 11:09 pm

      Emmie-that is interesting. I had wondered out loud about a virus. He is getting steadily better. Monday and Tuesday he still had neuro signs like loss of balance. Wednesday most of that was very mild but he was still not very perky (never had a fever). Today he was pretty close to normal. Anyone off the street would probably not notice anything except maybe that he wants to carry his head slightly left (but you really only see that if you lunge him-otherwise you wouldn’t notice a difference just watching.) Can you ask him if that would fit? He was really sweet when he didn’t feel good…I can tell he is getting better cuz he is getting sassy (not bad, just that he knows he is…well, special or something!;)

      • kate on April 28, 2012 at 10:04 pm

        Glad he’s improving – the quick improvement does sound like it might be a virus – maybe a rhino virus – one of my mares had that a couple of years ago – major symptom was head and neck stiffness and pain.

  13. sue on April 26, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Hoping for a quick recovery, and an answer to the cause.

  14. Kelly Gough on April 26, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    My horse behaved this way after pulling back, and presumably, injuring her poll. She lilted to one side, looked at me sideways, and seemed out of balance. It dissipated after several days. I wondered if her ear canal had been damaged. I don’t suppose you turn them out with their halters on or that he could have raised his head quickly under a fence rail? I sure wish they could tell us!

    • Stacy on April 26, 2012 at 11:12 pm

      No halter and 4 board fence lined with electrobraid so not likely. I did consider head trauma from a hock or a knee of another horse, something that wouldn’t leave a mark or mud (they had muddy hooves)…it is a mystery! Although I can live with a mystery if he gets better!

  15. Penny on April 26, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Stacy did you look for blood or swelling in case a spider bit him. Some spiders nest underground.

    • Stacy on April 26, 2012 at 11:12 pm

      Yep, still no marks.

  16. John Moser on April 26, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    … and that is why we love you.

  17. Jean Fine on April 26, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Your love for Vaquero will help to heal him and your disappointment…both will take time.

  18. Shelley on April 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    I will just say a prayer knowing he is in good hands with you, Stacy! I feel your disappointment, but you did the right thing!

  19. Jen on April 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Could it be Lyme disease? Many horses in my area are coming down with similar symptoms and that has been the diagnosis. Good luck & best wishes.

  20. MP Hedges on April 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear this! How scary. Sending positive, healing light your way.

  21. Majela on April 26, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Hope Vaquero recovers quickly

  22. Kathy Kopylec on April 26, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Stacy, prayers for you and Vaquero,I`m sorry this is happening my horses lately have had multiple issues one right after another and this scripture was placed on my heart hopefully it will encourage you Genesis 9:16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on earth.

  23. Dakino on April 26, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Hope Vaquero feels better soon. Always doing what’s best for the horse is the best trait a horsewoman/horseman could have.

  24. Gail on April 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Do you have a chiropractor who could check him and adjust him if necessary? My young horse had a fall at a new barn and no one told me. Immediate neurological symptoms looked like EPM–stumbling, dragging hooves, unstable. After a thorough exam at the university ruled out EPM, several months of rest, minerals & supplements gave no improvement. A chiropractor’s adjustments were what finally pulled him out of it.

    • Stacy on April 26, 2012 at 11:14 pm

      I have used a few, I think I will take him to the vet/chiro/acupuncture one I used a few years ago on another horse with success. Nothing like a one stop appointment! lol

      • Victoria on May 2, 2012 at 10:35 am

        I know a horse that was showing all the same symptoms of EPM and a vet diagnosed him with it, so he was taken to another vet for a second opinion and with further testing they did an x-ray of his poll area and it turned out he had run into something (probably the post in his run in shed) and damaged the first couple of vertebra in his neck. All he needed was rest and neck sweats. Hopefully it is something as simple with Vaquero. Good luck!

  25. Dianna Greene on April 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    WOW Stacy ! Sending healing prayers for you and your pony!!!!

  26. Jan Bradbury on April 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Hoping for the best possible outcome, and a speedy return to the arena. I am sure you have checked Vaquero for everything, but since he was out with others, was concussion or other head trauma ruled out? My gelding that got a concussion showed no outward physical sign of trauma, just neuro symptoms. Took forever once he was diagnosed with the concussion to figure out how it happened…just a thought. God bless and keep you and your horses in His hand…

  27. John H. on April 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I wouldn’t expect SW to do anything other than the right thing. I wish I could push the dark cloud away from Westfall folks.

  28. Deb on April 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    …and that is why we love and respect you so much–you always put your horses needs first 🙂 There are so many times we wish we could know the “whys” of things–you have certainly had your times!–but when we may not always get the answers here on earth, thankful for the comfort and confidence that the God we trust loves us and His creation (horses!) more than we could ever imagine. Not even a sparrow falls…. Praying for sweet Vaquero (loved seeing you both here in OH at the Equine Affaire). Thank you for letting us be a part of your journey

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