Saturday, December 29, 2012

Luck be a...

Its been an exciting year of amazing activity for me this year, taking me to places I never considered going, and of people making dreams come true.  I promise to do a year recap blog, but right now I wanted to share something close to my heart for now. 

As many of you know, I was extremely blessed to have some people come together and purchase me an upper level event horse prospect from Ireland earlier this year.  Clover Joe, or as we call him in the barn, "Captain", is the sweetest, most athletic, fun loving guy, and everything we hoped he would be.  I had the opportunity to compete him at a couple events and then, as some of you are already aware, a mysterious illness seemed to have beset him.

 At first we thought it was a sinus infection, and treated it as such.  When that didn't relieve his symptoms, we tried a myriad of other antibiotics, antihistamines, steroids, and therapies, with not much improvement.  We changed his feed.  We blacked out his window to see if it was photo sensitivity, and tried riding him in a variety of bit less bridles. This has probably been the most confounding, frustrating, heartbreaking thing to watch happening... seeing him so agitated and clearly not feeling well but not being able to help him much less diagnose the problem.  I  had people tell me that he was a "headshaker", that he had a training problem, and other assorted opinions, but in my gut I knew there had to be a reason and a way to treat the problem instead of just masking the symptoms.  I began to do research. and more research. and more research.

In my search for answers, I sought out friends and fellow trainers, peers and mentors for advice, and got some interesting information.  One particular friend (who is a veterinarian) even stopped out to watch me ride him, and did video on his own time to try and help figure something out.  Then came our biggest breakthrough.  A few weeks ago a friend of mine named Angel said I should contact Dr. David Miller and have him evaluate the horse and have him try acupuncture as it had greatly helped her horse.  I always say that people are put in our lives for a reason, and Angel is no different. I can't help but see the irony as she turned out to be a true "angel" in disguise for sending me on this path.  I decided to give Dr. Miller a try before going to Rood and Riddle to see if he had any idea of what could be happening with Captain.

Yesterday afternoon, Dr. Miller met Captain.  I told him the story of occurrences that began in August leading up to now, and he began his examination.  It was very apparent where Captain was telling him the pain and discomfort was, and Dr. Miller was actually able to show me blisters in his mouth.  We finally have a diagnosis, and I was so dumbstruck and relieved at the same time, that I actually just hugged him!  He believes Captain to have Immune Mediated Neuropathy Syndrome.  This is a condition that follows Herpes virus exposure or infection.  Captain's symptoms began on August 11th, 6 days after he had his first ever Rhino vaccine, which as you know is an EHV-1 virus. It causes inflammation of the nerve roots and peripheral nerves, and affects the respiratory tract mucous membranes disguising itself as sinusitis, blisters, as well as fatigue and hind end weakness. Captain illicited all these symptoms, some of which I didn't even connect such as his sudden cross cantering which I attributed to saddle fit.  All of the dots were FINALLY connecting.  Dr. Miller performed acupuncture, and treated Captain with some medication, and we have formulated a treatment plan.  This is a rare condition, and I want to stress it is not an EHV infection therefore not contagious.  It is an immune response to the exposure to the virus.

Many people told me I should not make Captain's story public for a variety of reasons, but I want to share this with you now because  if there is someone else out there who is experiencing the same frustration I have, maybe it can help.  I hope to chronicle our SUCCESSFUL therapy here, and give you all a chance to be on the journey with Captain and I.  While I thought our journey would be a much different one, I am optimistic and faithful that we will overcome this hurdle and continue on our path.  More than ever I am convinced that this is an amazing horse, as he tried every day to do what I asked when he was clearly suffering.  I can't wait to see what he can do when he is feeling 100%, and I can't thank him enough for being such a giving partner.

Thank you to all who have been so supportive, or helped me figure this out , and hopefully some great therapy, a few prayers, and a little luck o' the Irish will heal our own lucky clover quickly.