Wobbler / ataxic foal !!

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24 November 2021
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5
Hi , any advice or experiences please !


I have a 6 month old filly foal

She had a normal birth , and has been completely fit and healthy , beautiful mover , right up until about 4 weeks ago .


I started to notice an ‘odd’ hind limb ‘swinging ‘ movement behind

No signs of trauma

It got worse quickly , to the point where she didn’t want to trot or canter , and if she did canter she would bunny hop behind .

Sometimes it looked like she didn’t want to bend her hocks or stifles .there has never been any swelling or heat in any of her joints


My vet attended and wants to treat her conservatively.

He thinks she’s either a wobbler or she’s had a fall and damaged herself

He wants to leave her for the time being and see how things develop

We were also concerned that her mum was ‘doing ‘ her too well , being 1/2 Percheron she was milking like a fresian cow!!.

I weaned her a couple of weeks ago and she is doing really well in herself

She does look and move a lot better than she was , she will canter without bunny hopping
She trots , can turn a circle and can back up , although sometimes she does slide her back feet when going back !

Bend her neck right round to either side , to her and her shoulders
Lays down and gets up normally
But there is something clearly not right

I’m hoping obviously not a wobbler , and surely she would not have improved as much as she has if she was ????

she will now trot , and lifts and moves her hind legs , although slightly lame on the off hind .
She’s canters on both reins and doesn’t disunite at all

it’s mostly noticeable when she turns , she will slightly swing her legs round , on both reins .

I contacted a wobbler expert in the USA , and he says he’s very suspicious of her being a wobbler , but suggested sending her to rainbow equine hospital in Yorkshire for X-rays and a myelogram

we are in Hampshire so a very long trek for a baby !

I know the next thing to do is get her neck and spine x rayed , but was just wondering if anyone had had anything similar in a youngster

many thanks
 
Joined
24 November 2021
Messages
5
Hi , any advice or experiences please !


I have a 6 month old filly foal

She had a normal birth , and has been completely fit and healthy , beautiful mover , right up until about 4 weeks ago .


I started to notice an ‘odd’ hind limb ‘swinging ‘ movement behind

No signs of trauma

It got worse quickly , to the point where she didn’t want to trot or canter , and if she did canter she would bunny hop behind .

Sometimes it looked like she didn’t want to bend her hocks or stifles .there has never been any swelling or heat in any of her joints


My vet attended and wants to treat her conservatively.

He thinks she’s either a wobbler or she’s had a fall and damaged herself

He wants to leave her for the time being and see how things develop

We were also concerned that her mum was ‘doing ‘ her too well , being 1/2 Percheron she was milking like a fresian cow!!.

I weaned her a couple of weeks ago and she is doing really well in herself

She does look and move a lot better than she was , she will canter without bunny hopping
She trots , can turn a circle and can back up , although sometimes she does slide her back feet when going back !

Bend her neck right round to either side , to her and her shoulders
Lays down and gets up normally
But there is something clearly not right

I’m hoping obviously not a wobbler , and surely she would not have improved as much as she has if she was ????

she will now trot , and lifts and moves her hind legs , although slightly lame on the off hind .
She’s canters on both reins and doesn’t disunite at all

it’s mostly noticeable when she turns , she will slightly swing her legs round , on both reins .

I contacted a wobbler expert in the USA , and he says he’s very suspicious of her being a wobbler , but suggested sending her to rainbow equine hospital in Yorkshire for X-rays and a myelogram

we are in Hampshire so a very long trek for a baby !

I know the next thing to do is get her neck and spine x rayed , but was just wondering if anyone had had anything similar in a youngster

many thanks
Ps she is on high level of straight vit e
And just vit and minerals and hay
 

ycbm

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30 January 2015
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39,839
I get treating her conservatively but I don't understand why the vet wouldn't do neck x rays at home to prevent you investing emotional energy, money and time into her if she has something catastrophic going on in her neck from an accident or which she was born with. She doesn't need to travel to find that out.

I hope it's something simple and she recovers.
.
 

ihatework

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7 September 2004
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18,929
For me this will boil down to a couple of things -
1) how experienced is your vet with this kind of stuff and
2) are you insured and what is your desire/attitude towards interventions?

On one hand it sounds like over the last 4 weeks you are seeing improvement rather than things either the same or worsening? In which case it could have been either orthopaedic/muscular) issues from going splat (which let’s face it, foals are pretty good at) or even Neuro symptoms from a splat which are resolving.

So a conservative approach with some restrictive management and anti inflammatories may well be the most appropriate course of action - and the most likely cause will either be a splat or too rapid growth. Especially if uninsured!

That said, if there is something a bit more sinister going on, it might be that early intervention will greatly enhance long term outcome.

If your vet isn’t a specialist in this area then I would want a hands and eyes on assessment by a specialist. There must be one nearer to you than Yorkshire!! Does no one at liphook cover this type of thing?
 
Joined
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I get treating her conservatively but I don't understand why the vet wouldn't do neck x rays at home to prevent you investing emotional energy, money and time into her if she has something catastrophic going on in her neck from an accident or which she was born with. She doesn't need to travel to find that out.

I hope it's something simple and she recovers.
.
Hi we had this conversation and apparently the portable X-ray machine wouldn’t be good enough to do neck / spine xrays
 

LadyGascoyne

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Location
Oxfordshire
I understand conservative treatment but not when it comes to non-invasive diagnostics.

If it was my foal, I would want to know what was going on - not just for the foal but also because I would be completely neurotic about every off day in that horse’s life unless I knew what the cause and diagnosis was.

I’m afraid I’d be shipping off for scans.
 

ycbm

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Hi we had this conversation and apparently the portable X-ray machine wouldn’t be good enough to do neck / spine xrays
My vet did the full neck of a 16.3 middleweight warmblood at home 9 years ago after I refused to travel a horse which couldn't stand up in a moving lorry. (I now have a vet without a hospital who has better kit and it's amazing how not having a hospital changes treatment and diagnosis suggestions! )

Since most wobblers will be wrong somewhere in the neck I'd find a vet with similar kit to do your foal before putting a horse that young through a hospital trip.
.
 

ycbm

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As suggested above, I’d probably ship it off to Liphook.
I've heard of horses that young having their temperament changed forever by a trip to a hospital and/or hospital procedures. I wouldn't do it to a foal of 6 months unless it was essential. Especially if Covid controls mean nobody she knows can stay with her, as is the case with the 2 hospitals whose procedures I know.
.
 

milliepops

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I understand conservative treatment but not when it comes to non-invasive diagnostics.

If it was my foal, I would want to know what was going on - not just for the foal but also because I would be completely neurotic about every off day in that horse’s life unless I knew what the cause and diagnosis was.

I’m afraid I’d be shipping off for scans.
same here.
I have 2 wobbler field ornaments. My vets only offered x Ray in the clinic so that's what I did. Knowledge is power in these situations I think and a set of x rays isn't overly expensive even if not insured.

I would have sent my own youngster off in these circumstances, the vet nurses are excellent at my local horspital and have taken good care of my horses who have visited since the start of the pandemic. I was allowed to visit daily for the most recent stay so i think precautions may be easing slightly in some places.
 
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24 November 2021
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Thank you everyone for your replies☺️

I just want to reassure you all that she will be receiving any necessary veterinary treatment that she requires

I have Endells coming today to re assess .

I am not comfortable with travelling a baby 1 1/2hrs + to Liphook so I will have to hope that Endells will have a portable X-ray machine that will be good enough

my main reason for posting was to ask if anyone had had any similar experiences, or a foal this young to be confirmed a wobbler

not whether I should be getting a vet or not !!!
 

milliepops

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there is a FB group for people with wobblers horses so you may find more info there. but probably best to get your investigations done first. good luck.
 

Birker2020

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18 January 2021
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Hi , any advice or experiences please !


I contacted a wobbler expert in the USA , and he says he’s very suspicious of her being a wobbler , but suggested sending her to rainbow equine hospital in Yorkshire for X-rays and a myelogram

many thanks
Does this chap go by the initials BG by any chance?
Xrays can show wear and tear and compression my wobblers horse was seen at Phillip Leverhulme hospital in Liverpool and they did a kind of CT xray scan of his neck under a standing machine. They could look at layers of the spinal column in the same way they can look at sections of brain in a CT scan and said he had compression and narrowing of the spinal column from 52mm to 17mm.

This saved him having a myelogram although he was pts upon the results as he was too badly affected. I didn't want a myelogram if it could be helped as they have to be under GA and obviously that has risks associated with it and the CT/xray was pretty conclusive.

https://ker.com/equinews/wobbler-syndrome-young-growing-horses/ this article discusses CVM in more detail in younger horses and might be worth reading.

I'd also contact a feed manufacturer and discuss what might be the best feed to feed this type of fast growing youngster.
https://esc.rutgers.edu/fact_sheet/feeding-the-rapidly-growing-foal/ this is about feeding a fast growing young horse.

Its not all doom and gloom and hopefully you will get some good news. I have my fingers and toes crossed for you OP and wish you and your filly the best.
 
Last edited:

Asha

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So sorry you are going through this OP.

I have no experience of wobblers in foals. But if the mare has been doing her too well it could well be OCD . Are they swollen joints at all ?

ETA : especially this year, as the grass has been very rich due to the weather. Its something i was worried about with my foal as shes a big girl and grew a little too quick. We weaned her earlier than id wanted to, but so far she looks grand.
good luck and hope you get a positive outcome
 

sport horse

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I had a yearling that I suddenly found in the field with severe ataxia but she did have enough scratches and bumps around her body to realise she must have had an accident (she was on a 17 acre field with a hill and a couple of spinneys). Long and troubling story and many many vets she finally arrived at RVC one week later and their large x ray machine machine diagnosed an atlantoaxial subluxation - basically the top two vertebrae in her nack had dislocated from her head. She spent weeks at RVC on box rest and came home for further box rest and rehab. We thought she must have somersaulted down the hill - it was a bank holiday and I often wondered if a dog on the footpath chased the horses, but I will never know.

She grew quite a lot and reached a point where a vet told me that they would find nothing wrong on vetting. However I have a lot of young horses and could never forgive myself if I had broken her in and someone had an accident. She bred two or three foals - one of which is looking very promising at the start of his show jumping career. I then decided to let her go. I had by this time cared for her for 12 years and I no longer had a job and I would never have let her go anywhere else.
 

Goldenstar

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Good luck Op.
For what it’s worth if her life is be short because of an appalling mischance I would be doing the minimum to make it unpleasant .
I have my fingers and toes crossed for you.
 
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