When it comes to PSSM & MFM lethargy can be one of the main symptoms but what does lethargy cover and why are these horses lethargic?

What Is Classed As Lethargy In A PSSM Or MFM Horse?

Lethargy in PSSM horses can be classed as:

1) Acting Lazy all the time
2) Acting Sluggish or slow
3) Acting really tired all the time
4) Not wanting to move forwards or not wanting to move at all

PSSM Symptoms Lethargy
An N/P2 N/PX warmblood suffering with severe lethargy, this horse is so lethargic he is using the fence as the only way to hold his head up

When Does Lethargy Affect PSSM & MFM Horses?

Lethargy can affect PSSM & MFM horses both under saddle, and in their daily life

What Causes Lethargy In PSSM & MFM Horses?

There are 3 main reasons PSSM & MFM horses are lethargic these are as follows:

1) The Horses Symptoms Are Not Yet Under Control
When a PSSM or MFM horses symptoms are not yet managed they will keep having bouts of tightness or tying up the whole process of this alone is physically exhausting and enough to really take it out of a horse. Think of it this way- Tying up and tightness is like us keep having constant bouts of cramp (we all know how painful that is!) The first thing we would want to do after having cramp most of the day is to sleep as it’s painful and tiring! We wouldn’t want to be made to walk around or to go for a run which is why when we ask our horses to move or try to ride them they are lethargic.

2) The Horse Isn’t Getting Enough Of Something In Their Diet
When we don’t have the correct diet for PSSM & MFM horses for example if they are not getting enough protein or oil, it can make PSSM & MFM horses extremely sluggish and lethargic when we find that right balance it can turn these horses around dramatically!

3) The Horse Is Having To Much Of Something In Their Diet
When a PSSM & MFM horse has to much of what they shouldn’t have; for example a PSSM1 horse having to much rich grass, this would cause an overload of glycogen and make the horse shut down, sore, and not wanting to move.

Can A Horse Be Naturally Lethargic?

A horse can be naturally laid back; just like people some horses are cool characters! But there is laid back and lethargic, laid back horses can be woken up and will respond to things like transitions to make them more responsive when you ride them but a lethargic is a horse that doesn’t respond to anything, they cannot be woken up, they are in a constant state of sluggishness.

PSSM Symptoms Lethargy
Rio a PSSM1 cob suffering with lethargy when badly symptomatic, Rio was stiff and very reluctant to walk

What Can We Do To Make PSSM & MFM Horses Less Lethargic?

The best way to get a PSSM or MFM horse less lethargic is to get your management spot on. With PSSM & MFM there is not a one size fits all in regards to management, there are guidelines of what to feed but how much depends on your horse, some horses will need much more, or much less than others of specific supplements so its about finding out what works for your horse, and really tailoring their diet so it’s unique to them.

For more information on the PSSM symptom lethargy check out our YouTube video with examples of affected PSSM horses by clicking this link