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. Tania on April 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    hoping he makes a speedy recovery and as a true horse woman,u put your boy first and do not push. I believe everything happens for a reason and this may have happened to protect u both from something more sinister,as they say better luck with the next time,and will keep an eye on your post to see that all is well with him,have never experienced what u are talking about and fingers crossed i don’t sounds terrible,take care..

  2. anne on April 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Vanquero is lucky to have you!!! You are a beautiful team with lots of love around the world.

  3. Kim Robitaille on April 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Stacy…..I admire your dedication to your horse and your honesty regarding your disappointment in missing your event. Every horse owner knows that disappointment and we share your concern for your horses welfare and wish him a speedy recovery!!

  4. Tracy Hamel on April 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    You are doing the right thing even thought it may seem disappointing! 🙁 Hope he recovers soon! Good luck and keep us posted!

  5. Valerie Wehmueller on April 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Dear Stacy, My family & I wish your horse Vaquero a complete & speedy recovery from whatever is ailing him! We are so sorry that he’s not well & hope you find out what is wrong soon. We got to meet you in 2009, I think, at the annual Breyerfest in the KY. Horse Park in Lexington. You love horses & it shows. We also still can’t get over what happened to poor Roxy.

  6. susan talmage on April 26, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    So sorry! i will be praying for a fast recovery.
    Susan Talmage

  7. Julie S on April 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    So sorry to hear about Vanquero, Stacy. My thoughts and prayers will be with you both (and your family). I know when our horses are right we just aren’t right either. Have faith in knowing God has a reason for everything, although we . I know you have been through a lot with your horses this year – my heart goes out to you. I will pray that God will provide the vets with wisdom to find out what is causing Vanquero’s odd behavior and that he will be back to his normal self, soon. Keep riding through the storm…you know God is with you always even when it doesn’t FEEL like it.

  8. Tammy on April 26, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Thank you for caring for the horse. Yes it is disappointing, but they are so good to us, we must be good to them. Hope everything turns out well. You are a true role model. Thank you for all you do for the equine industry.

  9. Sally Leong on April 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    God bless you for doing what is best for your horse! I hope he recovers and can lead a normal life!

  10. Tina VanderEnde on April 26, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    i so respect u for thinking more for your horses health and well being than for ur gain. u r an exceptional horsewoman and i would love to ride like u! =)

  11. Pam Doyal-Arabia on April 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    You are a great owner……most people are so competitive they would have gone anyways…..just remember there will be another show, but there will never be another Vaquero. Take care of the Handsome Boy and yourself. Keep us posted on him

  12. Nicole Murphy on April 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Stacy…One of my horses recently seemed “off”. We thought colic but the vet ruled it out (he had normal motility etc.) he was having muscle termers (HYPP N/N) shaking his head, walking in circles aimlessly, and when he would paw he would drag his one hoof over top of the other and get stuck like that. He was fine that morning and then around 8pm this started. Turns out he had West Nile. He had been vaccinated etc. He had some ongoing symptoms (which seemed to increase with exercise) for about 5 days but the virus has run its course and he is back to normal. Just a thought….

    • Marla & Cody on April 26, 2012 at 5:34 pm

      I was just going to say that also, my guy got west nile and it was like that only worse but my other 2 got it and they had Vaquero’s symptoms. Be sure to keep him hydrated. All 3 of mine had been vaccinated, so scary that this is making rounds again.

  13. Anita Dolan on April 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    We have a horse recovering from Lyme’s disease with similar symptoms and were worried it was EPM. Poor Vaquero! I sure hope he feels better soon!!

  14. denise benson on April 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    We have a yearling that is going through the same thing. After approximately $3000.00 in vet bills…we still don’t know what happened. So sorry for Vaquero & you!

  15. Ashlynn Killip on April 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Did he pinch a nerve or something? Hope he gets better!!

  16. Lora on April 26, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I had a horse stumble like he was drunk after I dismounted, and it was an inner ear infection. Hope this helps.

  17. Kassie Tabor on April 26, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Praying for you and Vaquero!! Being from KY I know who you feel, I miss going to the Rolex (as a spectator) and this will be the first time in 12 yrs that I am going to have to miss the Derby.

  18. Kristine Nesbitt on April 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Good for you for taking care of him. We had a similar incident happen at our ranch about a week ago. The horse presented similar symptoms and her hind end was failing. The vet came out immediately, took a look, and treated her for muscle ataxia. Sure enough, she was almost well in an hour and the next day was back to normal. After looking in our pasture that had been mowed the day before, we found she had most likely accidentally eaten some bull nettle trimmings. It was quite scary. I hope yours is a simple solution like this.

  19. Susan on April 26, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    This is probably going to sound odd but I am so very glad that Vaquero isn’t going to be there. Many competitors would have had their eye on the prize first and the horse’s well-being second. They would have pushed him to do what he is clearly saying he can’t do right now. Of course you’re disappointed. You are a fierce competitor and a champion. But you have chosen to make that side of yourself secondary to being the caregiver of this beautiful horse. You are successful in more than one way this weekend and I am proud to be one of your fans. 8^)

  20. Becky Newell on April 26, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Prayers for Vaquero.

  21. Christin on April 26, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Stacy, check for Lyme, Botulism and Borna! Take care

  22. Cheryl Caldwell on April 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Do your horses get Rabies shots? Rabies in horses (when it is not the “Old Yeller” furious type) presents much like lots of other maladies (colic, lameness etc). Bats are the biggest culprit because a horse can have an encounter at night and the owner will never know it until the symptoms start to show and that could be up to 6 weeks after the contact! My past neighbor, who was also my large animal vet until he retired a couple of years ago was adamant about all horses having rabies shots. As a country vet he discovered rabies in pasture animals was not that rare.
    I also had a dog with sudden onset of balance issues and it turns out she had a vestibular condition much like
    vertigo. I wonder if horses can have that?

  23. Karen on April 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    has he been checked for an ear infection or a piece of grass or something in the ear canal?

  24. Zana Perkins on April 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    You know your doing the right thing, he is the most awsome horse I have ever seen and he loves you and he knows you love him by not takeing him to the Rolex. I have faith that he is going to be fine. You both will be in my prayers.

  25. Reta Rickert Muellemann on April 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Sorry to hear that you are experiencing the dissapointment of missing an important competition, but in retrospect our horses are family and our partners in what ever we participate in with them. You did the right thing and the only thing you could do given the symptoms and the situation.

  26. Nancy Van Wyk on April 26, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Been there . . . :{

  27. Martha on April 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Good for you Stacy for putting him first

  28. Kelly H on April 26, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Prayers for your guy to have a full recovery from whatever it is that is ailing him.

  29. thecuriouseclectic on April 26, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Hope he feels better soon, Stacy! Could it be a possible blow to the head or a stroke?

  30. Dmaynor on April 26, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    A friends horse had symptoms of a neurological problem (acting drunk, stumbling, falling, etc.) and after the vet came out and drew blood, it turned out to be an iron deficiency. She started Joker on Red Cell and hasn’t had a problem since. Speedy recovery and best wishes! 🙂

  31. Shawna Kendrick on April 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I know when EPM first came out my horse and his pasture buddy only went out in the day and were feed hay in the am.. But then his pasture buddy started acting weird. Short story the buddy had EPM and never saw possums but we sure did have birds that could have carried it. I really pray that your pony gets better and all gos good for you, you are a wonderful rider.

  32. Rachel Scarbrough on April 26, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    I know it’s hard not to compete in an event… but caring about and for your horse is always most important… something I know you already know. Hang in there… prayers going up.

  33. beth on April 26, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    I had a horse with an inner ear infection that acted this way, the head tilt made me think of it

  34. Cheryl Gould Mouyos on April 26, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    you are the true example of a great horsewoman. One who cares more about her horse than herself ~ <3

  35. Laura Scott on April 26, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    So sorry for Vaquero and you, and disappointed too! I know the feeling, as I have had that happen to me a few times with horses. I hope you find what the problem is exactly, can treat it and you can both go on to the next competition better than ever. I saw him when you rode him at the Horsefest in Springfield and the two of you make a perfect pair. Take care of you and your horse!

  36. Debbie on April 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Maybe West Nile????

  37. Laura on April 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    What about Rabies? We had one die from rabies and those are few of symptoms he presented. Our thoughts and prayers are with you both! Sometimes the right decisions are the hardest to make!

  38. Kat Magnuson on April 26, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Tick in his ear, maybe?

  39. shireen on April 26, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Prayers being sent for all of you!

  40. Candace on April 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Poor guy! Hope he’s doing better soon..

  41. Kate on April 26, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Hope all comes right with him. I see someone has already given you the link to my EPM page. We used the new ELIZA peptide antigen blood test that’s now in clinical trials, as well as the treatment that’s part of the new protocol, with great results. The very good thing about the test is accurate so that EPM can be ruled out if that’s the case. Head-tilting is one of the common EPM symptoms, although my horses that were affected didn’t have that symptom, although one did do head-pressing.

    Best of luck to you and your horse.

  42. Jennifer J. Martin (Gran Jen) on April 26, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Oh, I am so disappointed for you! “Man plans, God laughs!” Please take good care of Vaquero, and keep everyone posted as to the latest developments. I hope he will be okay, and run many more great patterns!
    God bless,
    Jenny Martin

  43. Lincey Hinkle on April 26, 2012 at 11:00 am

    We just had this happen to one of our boarders last week. He was treated for EPM, but results were clear. Turns out he had a vitamin E deficiency, which has very similar symptoms to EPM. Hope Vaq gets to feeling better!

  44. Terri Anderson on April 26, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Sending my prayers for a complete recovery! Pretty disappointing to not be able to go to the Rolex…..but even more scary to not know what it is……

  45. Shirley on April 26, 2012 at 9:54 am

    So sorry to hear this.

    Here is a link to a series of blog posts by a lady named Kate who just dealt with a bout of EPM and the very effective treatment she and her vet came up with.

    • Peggy on April 26, 2012 at 10:44 am

      Sending my prayers for you both and it is so refreshing to hear your priorities are in the right place. God Bless You Both and please keep us updated.

  46. Lauren Paytes on April 26, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Prayers that he gets better soon and that its nothing serious!

  47. Patty Williamson on April 26, 2012 at 9:09 am

    I sure hope you find the cause and that he makes a full and rapid recovery. Prayers for him and you.

  48. Carlye cebul on April 26, 2012 at 7:15 am

    I’m sure you have ruled out all that you can but did you think of poisoning as in elderberry which is just putting out new tender leaves

    • Stacy on April 26, 2012 at 10:17 am

      The pasture he was in is empty except the hay we provide due to turning them out in winter (more of a paddock/ mud lot).

      • Shelly Stemm on April 26, 2012 at 6:32 pm

        Could he have some sort of middle ear infection my dog had those same symptoms and that is what she ended up having

  49. Gwen Confalone on April 26, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Stacy, definitley check for EPM and Lymes. Also is he HYPP N/N?

    • Stacy on April 26, 2012 at 10:17 am

      No HYPP

  50. meggsy on April 26, 2012 at 6:07 am

    Hope Vaquero has a very speedy recovery Stacy

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