Horse has melanomas - Advice please

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10 August 2018
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Hi everyone. My current horse has melanomas in his throat and guttral pouch. Very long story short, we knew he had these when we purchased him so got him very cheaply. We were hoping to give him a good couple of years. He had 1 removed from his girth when he was only 4/5 years old, he now has another one growing there and the ones in his throat have increased tenfold in the past year. He has now become exceptionally spooky when being schooled on the right rein (melanomas are all on his right side by the way). It is almost as if he can't flex right on that rein. Jumping like a stag (although still spooky at some jumps). He also has a new lump in his left side of his throat. I do have the vet coming back on Friday to discuss our options but does anyone have any experience of a horse becoming spooky like this due to melanomas or has anyone else experienced this situation in such a young horse? (he is now 9)
 

ihatework

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I would imagine melanomas in the area you describe are at best restrictive and worst exceptionally painful. It unfortunately doesn’t sound as though this horse should be ridden unless there is a fairly radical surgical option (but even then is it in his best interests?).

How very sad, but I’d definitely be giving serious thought about the horses future 🙁
 
Joined
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I would imagine melanomas in the area you describe are at best restrictive and worst exceptionally painful. It unfortunately doesn’t sound as though this horse should be ridden unless there is a fairly radical surgical option (but even then is it in his best interests?).

How very sad, but I’d definitely be giving serious thought about the horses future 🙁
We really are and are prepared for the worst. I wouldn't put him through surgery especially when already removed ones have grown back so quickly. :(

Gutting as he looks so incredibly well and ultra fit.
 

scats

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What a shame. I had a pony riddled with melanomas but all external. We were so lucky in reality.
Friends mare had them around her windpipe and ended up struggling to breathe. She was put to sleep.
 
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What a shame. I had a pony riddled with melanomas but all external. We were so lucky in reality.
Friends mare had them around her windpipe and ended up struggling to breathe. She was put to sleep.
You wouldn't think anything was wrong with him if you saw him visually. Makes it harder when they look so well doesn't it :(
 

Pinkvboots

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How sad I don't have experience of melanomas but one of my horses had 2 major infections in his guttural pouch, I know any sort of issue there can really affect them in all kinds of ways, there are so many blood vessels in that area and I know with my own he would rub his head on things, vet said it's like having a really heavy thick head like with blocked sinus or a head cold, my horse now they think has some minor nerve damage in the face which was caused by the infections, it's also quite invasive getting into the pouch especially if it becomes a continuous thing that alone can cause it's problems.

I really hope the vet can help in some way and that you have a happier outcome please let us know how it goes.
 

paddy555

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based on my experience I would stop schooling. He isn't going to be able to flex to the right due to the melanoma. If he is happy to be ridden in straight lines I would do that gently and letting him choose the speed. When it becomes obvious he is not happy riding I would retire him.

I had this in a 6yo grey on the RH side, just one melanoma which grew to the size of a football. He was PTS at 16, nothing to do with the melanoma.
The melanoma did not affect him. He could happily eat, breathe, swallow and do anything else. People looked at it in amazement but he was not in the slightest bothered by it.

He was never ridden, totally unrideable and many other things were impossible as well so I cannot tell you if he was spooky ridden. He had had a terrible time before he came to me at 6, only months before the melanoma appeared, and was never going to be rideable. I took him purely as a rescue, I found him shut in a barn starving with no water. Bad things had happened to him one of which I later found out was considerable pressure on his neck due to pulling him. I often wondered if that had contributed to the cause.

If I had another with a melanoma I would just retire it. I would PTS if the horse was obviously in pain not because it had melanomas. Mine had a long happy life with his. It is easy to project your own feeling of "this must be painful" onto a horse just because you see physical problems. I did that a lot but the horse just didn't see it that way.
 

Skib

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I rode a Connie type for 8 years. When one eye was affectd by melanoma, she became more spooky and clients could no longer ride her. She was retired because she could no longer be bridled but I used to groom her and she was used for therapy sessions with kids. She was put down when the vet eventualy judged she was in pain.
 

RhossT

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No experience of this behaviour but it might be worth asking your vet about melanoma vaccine. My pony would not still be alive (and working hard) without it. It is experimental but last time I asked, consultant said it seemed to be effective in over half of cases. Not cheap, I warn you.
 

ycbm

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A friend had a mare with melanomas exactly where you describe. She was fine for years, then she suddenly went spooky, dumping the rider. A short time later she began to have fits and was PTS.

Sorry it's not a more hopeful story.
 

alexomahony

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Hi

My connie Sky has some Melanomas in the same place as yours - one is very pronounced and about the size of a golf ball and his has some other lumpy bits that I expect are smaller ones. He is spooky by nature anyway - but this could be due to the melanoma or his personality. I always just presumed it was his personality. He's had the Melanoma since i've owned him.

Currently they don't bother him in the slightest - he can flex both ways and continue as normal. I've attached photos so you can see.

He had the vaccine about 3 years ago and I haven't noticed a change in size since - and I hope it stays that way for a fair few years yet!

If he got to the point where he couldn't flex, but still happy to be ridden I'd stop schooling but possibly carry on hacking if he was happy. If not, he'd retire :) As soon as they started causing him issues and were painful, I'd be thinking about other options.


Sky Melanoma June 2020 2.jpg Sky Melanoma June 2020.jpg
 

Orangehorse

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What a shame. I had a pony riddled with melanomas but all external. We were so lucky in reality.
Friends mare had them around her windpipe and ended up struggling to breathe. She was put to sleep.
This happened to one of our horses too, when she was in foal. We hoped she would live long enough to delivery the foal, but sadly not. It was pretty harrowing really and it was probably left a bit too long in the hope that she could carry on.
 

Cortez

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I have a 19 year old horse with melanomas (grey, of course), some of which he's had for years, including one in his mouth that had caused him pain for years until we got him and figured out what his "bitting" problem actually was. they are slow growing and not currently causing him any problems, but will probably ultimately be the reason for his euthanasia. Constant monitoring is the regimen, and swift decision making when it becomes necessary.
 

Orangehorse

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I had a pony with a huge melanoma on his face that started out as big as a nut and by the time he died it was a big as a grapefruit. I always wondered what was going on internally, but in fact he was PTS with Cushings in the end. The vet did say that 80% of grey horses have to be PTS with melanoma, which is sad.
 

Bernster

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I joined a Facebook group recently - equine melanoma awareness group.

Mine has similar ones both sides of his face. No obvious discomfort shown but it is possible they impact him. Vet checks him whenever he visits. He’s on 6 monthly vaccine injections but the jury is still out on whether that makes much/any difference.

From the Facebook group, I’ve now heard of cisplatin and cimetidine as possible treatments. Will speak to my vet but he seemed pretty clear there are no other treatments and surgery isn’t an option due to the location. His started age 7 and he’s now 10. They seem to go through growth spurts.

Prognosis isn’t great for treatment but there‘s plenty of horses who have them and continue happily into a decent age, or whose life ends but not due to them.
 
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Thanks very much for the information. Unfortunately we had the vet out yesterday and it seems he has more problems than what we thought. His melanomas are now growing by the week and he now has another few come up in his previously clear side. Thanks everyone for all your help and advice and support.
 

Gloi

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Thanks very much for the information. Unfortunately we had the vet out yesterday and it seems he has more problems than what we thought. His melanomas are now growing by the week and he now has another few come up in his previously clear side. Thanks everyone for all your help and advice and support.
Sorry to hear that :(
 
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