Today in your PSSM stories we hear from Jenipher & her American Quarter Horse mare Lexi.
My struggle began on June the 2nd 2019, and it all started when Lexi was tied to the horse trailer and randomly flipped over, it was completely out of character for her as she had never done it before.
But this was just the start of Lexi’s issues, by September 2019 she became affected with lots of random symptoms that didn’t make any sense, she was sweating profusely under saddle, became extremely lethargic, and her muscles were rock hard all the time.
On the 1st of January 2020 we were out trail riding, something we had always done for many years, and for the first time in all the time I’d owned her, I had to get off and walk her home in hand, because she lost the plot and felt like she wanted to explode, and nothing I could do would stop her.
I took her back home, and to the arena thinking she was just “full of herself” and like most people would, I put her on the lunge line to give her a blast and get the excess energy out of her system. When Lexi was on the lunge she exploded bucking, rearing, and strangely trying to stop.
After this event Lexi got increasingly worse, there was clearly something very off with my horse she had never behaved like this in her life! So later that month I sent her to my local vet to try to determine what was wrong with Lexi.
The local vet did x-rays, and with help from the chiropractor, they suspected it was her stifle, and advised giving her a month off.
I adhered to the vets advice and gave Lexi a full month off of any work, but after the month had passed, she didn’t look any better, in fact, she seemed worse.
I sent videos to the vet in which she also agreed that Lexi looked worse, she suggested giving Lexi stifle injections but I had no interest in jumping straight to injections, as I was certain this wasn’t the cause of Lexi’s issues, and this is where our journey started with the University of Illinois.
At the University of Illinois, they nerve-blocked Lexi and determined that in fact, it was not her stifle at all! But instead her suspensory ligament at the hock attachment point.
The next week we went back and forth between the chiropractor, and the University of Illinois, where Lexi had an appointment every week for 2 months.
At our first university visit Lexi was unable to hold herself up for the back leg flexion test, so 3 vet students had to hold her up while the vet lifted her rear leg to flex meaning this portion of the exam took about an hour.
Rehabbing then followed at this point which consisted of 10-minute hand walks, 3 days a week, working up to riding 20 minutes, and we kept increasing from there, and during rehab, Lexi was getting better in a lot of ways.
In June 2020 Lexi went for her recheck at the University, and she was able to hold herself up again during the flexion test, Lexi did well the rest of that year and the vet released her as “normal”.
In 2021 we went on as if life was normal but despite the vets releasing Lexi as normal, she still wasn’t. Lexi was still quite lethargic, she was starting to trip in her back end, she couldn’t canter under saddle, was resting her back legs a lot again, still sweating a lot, and she had now developed muscle tremors in her left shoulder.
Memorial Day weekend arrived and Lexi took a turn for the worst as she experienced her first and only full-ever tye-up, it was a terrifying experience.
It was in Sept 2021 that I stumbled across a video on Facebook of a horse with exactly the same left shoulder spasm as Lexi, and the horse had tested positive for PSSM.
From there I joined every PSSM page I could find searching high and low for videos and owner descriptions of their horses.
I emailed or called every vet we had seen telling them her list of symptoms excited that I may have found an answer, but every vet I spoke to shot the idea of PSSM down!
No she has shoulder spasms because she’s out of shape, she sweats because she’s fat, she can’t canter because you don’t try too often enough, she has an electrolyte imbalance, I was defeated I was certain PSSM made sense.
I decided to pull Lexi’s hair and do the AQHA 6 panel test myself, the AQHA 6 panel test, tests for IMM, HYPP, MH, GBED, HERDA, and PSSM1 all genetic diseases, at this point I was already at about $8,000 since 2020 trying to figure out what was wrong with my girl, so the cost of the 6-panel test was hardly anything.
I sent off the hair for the test, and to my disbelief, the AQHA 6 panel test came back negative, I was defeated again!
I was sure that Lexi had PSSM, and it was through further research I discovered PSSM2, and upon discovering it I decided to do the PSSM2 test, and guess what? I finally got my answer, Lexi came back positive.
Lexi tested positive for N/P3 the variant of PSSM2 that affects Filamin-C in muscles, FINALLY even though it caused me great sadness I got my answer.
I put Lexi on PSSM2 management and noticed a huge improvement in her symptoms, she’s currently on a ration balancer, amino acids, chia seeds, and MSM, although management can be complicated.
Lexi goes through times of doing very well then she goes back to having problems in which I have to change up her supplement
Since diagnosis, it has been a struggle and heartache with tears of sadness, and joy, I see more with Lexi now and can see her pain more, I can tell when she’s not feeling up to doing things more.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story and if you are ever in doubt, keep fighting for your horse, we are their voice.