Stacy Westfall’s horse Vaquero showing neurological signs

Vaquero took a sudden, unexpected turn for the worse. Wednesday I was happy to have the information provided in the previous post. Thursday morning the results from several tests came back negative, indicating that everything is normal. Normal blood work, no signs of poisoning of any kind, negative for viruses, and negative for EPM. This all seemed like excellent progress and supports the idea of the arthritis in the neck being the problem. Vaquero traveled well down and back and was very much himself.

At the Thursday pm feeding he was far from normal. This time I thought to grab the video camera.  I shot several videos (the first one I am crying and so upset I removed the sound) and I will post one of them here.

If you do not know what a neurologic problem in a horse looks like then this is your chance to see one. We were trying to move him to the indoor riding arena where there was less risk of him injuring himself if he falls.

He is back on steroids and we are sleeping in the barn. I will keep you posted as I can. You can do one thing for me though if you have time.

PRAY. Pray for the vets that are coming to look at him. Pray for healing. Pray for wisdom for everyone involved. And I thank God that even though his body is clearly not working right Vaquero (if you look at just his head) is still perky and curious. I am so thankful that he is not depressed and in obvious pain.


  1. Stacey mehrgan on May 6, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Hi Stacey. I’m writing from Australia. do you have Bats in your area. We have Hendra here and the horses suffer nueriological problems. Its passed thru Bats droppings near feeding areas.

  2. Chanida on May 6, 2012 at 6:21 am

    My heart is breaking for you! I had one do this to me almost 12mths ago so I know what you are going through. She had a mosquito borne virus called Kunjin which basically swells the brain. From my research I believe is similar to the West Nile virus you guys get over there, but I’m sure you vaccinate for that & would’ve already ruled it out with the blood work. I’m hoping they develop a vaccine for Kunjin as I never want to go through that again. Thinking of you & sending positive vibes your way.

  3. Allie on May 5, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Has the vet done any kind of testing for wobbler syndrome? Or is there any kind of injury in his back or neck? I just went through something really similar with a friends warmblood, very similar signs and the same non challant additiude about him, wishing for the bestfor you two!!

  4. Jessica Williams on May 5, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    I was reading Stacy’s last past couple of posts and they brought me to tears. I would be devastated if this happened to my horse, Lucy. I started praying and thought it would be cool to share my prayer. God bless

    Hey God,
    I pray for Stacy and Vaquero. They are going through such a rough time. Please give them both strength and that Vaquero would come out of this successfully. He is such an amazing horse who has an amazing rider. Please help him to get better so he can once again win all those ribbons and trophies. Please give the Westfall family comfort and hope. Amen.

  5. Kasey on May 5, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Stacy, I hope everything goes well with your horse. I’ll be praying for you and Vaquero. Life is strange but when we have the people, animals, and things we love most surrounding us we know we can make it through.

  6. Kathy Kopylec on May 5, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Stacy, My heart goes out to you! you`ve had so much, praying for your broken heart and strength of spirit, wisdom for the vets , trusting God in his amazing power and praying for someone with healing gifts to place hands on him….sincerely in christ Kathy k.

  7. Gail on May 4, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Stacy, just read your blog. My 6yr old TB had a similar episode last May. He would drop his head and get wobbly and walk backwards in a circle and looked like he was blind for about 30 to 60 seconds. Totaly disoriented. Caledl vet, blood work all normal, suspected EPM also. We found no known cause. Happended several times in the course of two weeks. We did chiropractic, which helped some and then the farrier put front shoes on him just in case, to rule out his feet or structural problems? It worked for what ever reason, he has not had an episode since. I have videos also. Simply crazy. Hope they find solutions for you and your horse.

  8. Colleen Burke (@ColleenB8) on May 4, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    I am praying so hare for you all right now! You are giving him the best care possible and you have done every possible test so now we should send positive thoughts and prayers. It is so hard when something like this happens to our four legged family, big hug to you all and an even bigger one for Vaquero.

    Good St. Francis, you loved all of God’s creatures.
    To you they were your brothers and sisters.
    Help us to follow your example
    of treating every living thing with kindness.
    St. Francis, Patron Saint of animals,
    watch over my pet
    and keep my companion safe and healthy.

  9. Rachel on May 4, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    I’m so sorry for you and your horse. I’m sure the vets have ruled this out, but could it be something wrong with his inner ear? poor guy looks like he doesn’t know where to put his feet. I hope he recovers soon.

  10. Sage Crandall on May 4, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Praying for you and Vaquero, Stacy. So sorry you have to go through this; it must be heartbreaking.

  11. Linda Wilkinson on May 4, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Prayers, hugs and standing in agreement with you!

  12. Sandy Carr on May 4, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    I’m praying for everyone Stacy….it looks like the EPM I saw in the late 90s. Have them run that test again if they can. Glad he looks perky and not in pain. Now it’s time for the detective vets to do their work! Hugs.

  13. Paige macfarland on May 4, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Stacy, this. Breaks my heart. Has your vet ruled out the wobbler condition? Spinal cord injury? Our horses are so vulnerable. Paige, Santa fe,nm

  14. denise Guyton on May 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Hyoidal bone? Sorry about the spelling.

  15. Jill on May 4, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Praying like crazy for you all!

  16. Shirley on May 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    My heart goes out to you and Vaquero. I lost a 4 year old stallion to very similar symptoms and know well that feeling of helplessness. We never did discover what it was, but it started when he slipped circling up a cow, and managed to save himself from falling, but after that he pretty much looked like your horse. I tend to agree with the spinal problem theory. Knee mail going up for all of you.

  17. Rhonda Gagnon on May 4, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Prayers in TN. Breaks your heart. We have a horse that was having coordination problems but also had a swollen leg top to bottom – was tested for ENV & EPM : but you pull his tail & let go & he would right himself – doc said was good sign.. We found two little pricks & to this day I think it was a snake bite . Any chance of that? Sparky is fine today. We did give him Toucoprin. Will continue to pray. Please update his condition. RGG

  18. Skip Yochum on May 4, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    From looking at the video I would probably want a head CT to rule out a CVA, because I think he acting like a right sided CVA ( Cerebral Vascular Accident )

  19. Simone Schulz on May 4, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    perhaps vestibularsyndrom (by infections, tumors, poisoning …)? Regards Simone

  20. Anne Goddard on May 4, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Prayers sent. . .

  21. Cheryl Ostrander on May 4, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Stacy here is a contact if it might be lyme disease. Yung-Fu Chang, Professor

    Animal Health Diagnostic Center

    Department of population Medicine and diagnostic Sciences

    College of Veterinary Medicine

    Cornell University

    Ithaca, NY 14853

    Tel: 607-253-3675

    Fax: 607-253-3943

  22. Sommer on May 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Stacy, we in my family are praying. I hope that the vets will be able to figure out what he is need of and can treat him and that Vaquero will fully recover.

  23. Anna on May 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    praying praying praying

  24. Judith A Hamilton (Philip) on May 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Stacy….Saddened to here Vaquero has more ongoing problems….Praying for both you and Vaquero and the Vets….Stay strong

  25. tugsmom on May 4, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    So sorry Stacey my thoughts and prayers are with you and Vaquero and wishing him a speedy recovery. I will be following his progress and pray he pulls through for you. My heart goes out to you in these troubled times.

  26. Emma on May 4, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Praying for you guys!!

  27. Lori Walsh on May 4, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    My heart goes out to you all. Sending prayers and hope for healing.

  28. Sheri on May 4, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    I feel so horrible for you Stacey. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling right now. I hope and pray that Vaquero comes out of this as good as ever. Please keep us updated when you can, and stay strong.

  29. horsehavenabc on May 4, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    As Wendy said – I’m sure you have the best people looking at Vaqero – but sometimes things are ruled out as unlikely. I sent the video to my sister who said her horse acted the same way with West Nile. I know you and Vaqero are in God’s hands during this difficult time and I wish you peace and strength.

  30. Marlene Lemke on May 4, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    My heart hurts for you and Vaquero. Prayers…..

  31. Lorrie Bracaloni on May 4, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Snake Bite?

  32. Anne Kirlpatrick on May 4, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I believe very strongly in the power of prayer so I will PRAY very hard for you all God bless

  33. Letitia Hise on May 4, 2012 at 11:24 am

    So Sorry Stacy. Have you checked pasture for possible toxic plants? Some common weeds have neurotoxins.

  34. Wendy Russ on May 4, 2012 at 11:07 am

    I know youve got the best of the best looking into Vaqero and the rest of us are sending prayers from the heart…..but… I just can’t stop thinking that there may be a clue in Hammys problem related to Vaqueros so…I had to say it. Have you had your water tested?

    • Marlice Vonck on May 4, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      Oh… and also, it is heartbreaking to see Stacy and her little big horse. Healing thoughts are going your way…

  35. rosemary on May 4, 2012 at 11:01 am

    We are thinking of you and praying for him!

  36. Sandi Lamrouex on May 4, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Dear Stacy, my heart aches for you and Vaquero. Unfortunately, I had a 2 year old examined by Dr. Reed,(the best, for sure!) x-rays, video etc. The gelding was a 2 yr old. No EPM or Wobblers was suspected. With in months, he was traveling worse and worse. It wasn’t until his trip to Tex.A & M that he fell in the trailer and was really bad. Even the MRI didn’t show a thing. He couldn’t recover from the anesthesia and was put down. It wasn’t until test results from the necropsy was it determined that he did indeed have severe EPM. NO parasites were found. Just the damage. I hope the idea of going ahead and treating Vaquero for EPM will be discussed soon. You just never know. My prayers are with you.

  37. Ginger on May 4, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Have you checked for maybe a plant or weed he may have eaten that could cause a problem?? I have a neuro. disease also so I can relate to the poor boy…….Any injury to his spine???? Maybe even a wrong roll.. could cause injury??? Prayers coming your way…..Does he seem to have loss of feeling in his legs or back at all??? Maybe an allergic reation to some insect or spider bite??? Just throwing things out there…God bless you all..and help keep you strong..

    • Stacy on May 4, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      blood work says no poisons/toxins. Many things ruled out on blood work….

  38. travelcat on May 4, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Stacy, this may be a long shot but has the vet considered idiopathic vestibular syndrome ? I know of someone who had a dog with a very similar problem, and this turned out to be the reason. It resolved on it’s own and the dog was fine afterward. Might be a long shot.

  39. Shelly Petty on May 4, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Was Roxy and Vaquero in the same barn? Could they have picked up something at one of the events? It seems to be more than consicendece you have two very sick horses in a short amont of time.
    He looks like he has vertigo Have the vets checked his inner ear functioning ?
    I wish you nothing but the best .

    • Stacy on May 4, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      No, Roxy was at home with Greg and hers was completely different. She had torn stifles from being cast. He appears to have damage to his spinal cord from arthritis (possibly from a small undetected OCD when young) and now it has flared up. More tests coming.

  40. Suzanne Butler on May 4, 2012 at 10:14 am

    No NYPP does he have any Impressive ? My mare tested NYPP negative but still has mild symptoms have the vets ruled out a tumor ? Peggy Fleming of Florida Equine Accupuncture in Dade City Florida has worked miracles on horses with symptoms just like this I can’t find her number but I’ll get it for u she has her own private plane and flies to different areas if u can get the video to her somehow I know she can help

    • Suzanne Butler on May 4, 2012 at 10:21 am

      Dr Peggy Fleming 1-352-583-2400 website is @ please contact her email is u can upload the video u took

    • lyndakbundrant on May 4, 2012 at 10:22 am

      I agree here Stacy–I practice holistic medicine and I would look into Equine Accupuncture. I have seen first hand the rapid healing accupuncture can do.

    • Marlice Vonck on May 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      If you test negative on HYPP it is negative. Vaguero’s signs are not at all similar to HYPP. I would highly recommend to contact a holistis veterinarian who is certified in acupuncture and herbs. Steroids take away and swelling of the spinal cord, but will not resolve the initial problem, and will only suppress healing. Additional therapy with alternative methods would be very helpful. Go to to find a holistic vet.

  41. Jeanine grimes on May 4, 2012 at 10:13 am

    I have a horse that has equine motor neuron disease. Sounds maybe similar. Signs weight/muscle loss, shifting on hind quarters, sweating limb weaknessrope walking. Somethimg to consider. Jeanine grimes

  42. Heidi Seaton, DVM on May 4, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Praying for you guys…

  43. Jan Fletcher on May 4, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Sending prayers your way…..and huge cyber <<<<<<>>>>>>….:'(….I will focus my energy on a good positive outcome…..

  44. Kellie on May 4, 2012 at 10:03 am

    I’m very sorry; so sad to see this. Thinking of you & your family! Stay strong for him & praying they find an answer!!

  45. Kat Magnuson on May 4, 2012 at 9:57 am

    I am so sorry. I am praying you get answers and find a way to heal this good soul. I am so, so sorry.

  46. Michelle on May 4, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Stacy, so sorry. I saw both of you just last fall. He’s a lovely horse. My prayers are with you. Have you also considered Wobbler’s syndrome? He looks very much like a Doberman I used to have with the same issue, particularly in not seeming to know where his legs are. There’s been some excellent research at the University of Pennsylvania done on this.

  47. Janet on May 4, 2012 at 9:43 am

    I have been praying tons for you. When I look at the video he looks like he has stroked out. I wish I good do more for you guys then pray, but they will be coming your way fast and hard.

  48. Olivia on May 4, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I am so sorry. Something like this always seems to happen to the best horses. I watched my vet treating a horse for something like this, I think the horse I watched was slightly worse, but the owners weren’t in a financial situation to pay for all of the testing let alone the treatments so he just had to live off of banamine for a while. I was talking to my vet about him again on Wednesday and he said that they had to put him down. I am so grateful that you are in a position to care for Vaquero! He’ll be taken care of by the best, which is always a comfort! Praying for you lots! Please let us know his progress!

  49. Al on May 4, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Praying for you and Vaquero! Stay strong!

  50. Sam Truckly on May 4, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Wishing only the best for you and Vaquero.

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