Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Baby Boomer Dreams - Dandy's Story - More on EPM

Part 1

The vets decided that Dandy's infestation was probably in the form of a lesion on the right side of his spine at the coupling of his hip and his back. Their prognosis for him was, if he survived, he would probably never be a competitive show horse again due to the nerve damage at that crucial location.

I tried not to spend my time with my Arabian horse walking on egg shells because of his illness. I also didn't waste my time wondering about what might have been. I took advantage of each and every minute I still had with my horse.

By this time, I had lost Scandalous making her sons all the more precious to me. With Dandy being my very first foal, the place in my heart for him is even bigger. I didn't want to have any regrets if things didn't work out the way that I hoped. I just kept plugging along working towards my goal of getting this horse finished so we could get back to the US Arabian Nationals.

When we made it through the first year of treatment., I found a natural type treatment from Frank Lampley's that I used to treat Dandy for another full year. I hoped with two years under his belt we would have that parasite whopped and not have to worry about a fatal relapse. All through that second year I continued on with the herbs as well. I just didn't want to take any chances with Dandy's life.

Over that time most of Dandy's symptoms went away except for the collapsing hip thing and falling down in the horse trailer. The horse still can only be hauled in the last slot of my slant load trailer. Anything else and he falls. I attribute that to his size and how he must shorten his frame to stand in those front spaces. That shortened frame puts pressure on the damaged nerves in his back causing him to collapse. In that back slot he can stretch out farther and travels just fine.

The biggest issue with recovery for this horse has been teaching him it is OK to move properly. After so many years with the disease undetected and moving to compensate for the pain he was in, convincing the horse to use himself properly has been an ongoing challenge. Only last month I finally broke through with his right shoulder. The end result, however, has been that the horse is currently lame as his body adjusts to this new movement.

There's also an issue about the horse's fitness. Just as he had muscle atrophy as one of his symptoms during the course of the disease, the horse looses muscle tone much faster with time off than "normal" horses do. It is also most difficult for him to build muscle making it really important to keep the horse in shape and not give him time off if at all possible.

That's OK with Dandy, however. The horse really doesn't enjoy time off. He'd much rather be working. On the days that he doesn't go with me, he's very vocal about being left behind, poor boy.

It strange how things happen sometimes. This whole event didn't just effect my horse, it has really affected me in a number of ways.

The things I have learned to teach this horse have made me an accomplished rider. They say it is the "tough" ones that teach you the most. Well, things couldn't be much tougher than rehabing an EPM horse. Most people will tell you those horses never make it back into the ring.

The move to the new barn was supposed to be about doing what was best for Dandy. As things have unfolded over time , however, it seems that this move opened some doors for me that probably never would have been opened otherwise. Only looking back now can I see the bigger impact it's made.

The horses were at that barn were mostly Arabians...... probably because the owner was someone who owned and showed Arabians....someone I knew from the horse shows. I didn't know her well, just a name and a face and a casual conversation now and then. Then I moved to her barn.

There was also a well known and successful Arabian trainer working out of this barn. She was someone I knew of, but to be perfectly honest, didn't have much respect for. I had heard stories. .....stories I wasn't impressed with. Frankly, I had been concerned about being in the same barn because of my uncomfortableness about the things I'd heard

That trainer and I got started talking about Dandy's illness. She was impressed with the extent I was willing to go to take care of my horse. I guess I thought (and probably still do) that's just the way it should be. She was one of the people that stepped up to help make sure his meds and feed were handled properly. If an emergency arose, I could count on her.

Dandy was the catalyst that opened the door. Now working in the barn side by side with her I was learning that my impressions from those stories couldn't be farther from reality. So while I had started off on one side of the fence about this trainer, I ended up on the other.

This trainer and I had a lot of things in common. The most important of which was we both wanted what was best for the horse. We also had similar perspectives on ethics and training. Before long we became fast friends.

She has been a great influence on my life. She has been the trainer who gave me credit for what I was doing with my horse. Instead of putting me down for not being tough enough on him and "getting the job done" she took the time to see it for what it amazing accomplishment from a horse with a neurological disease.

Her constant reinforcement has been a huge help with my self esteem............and my conviction. Without her, I doubt that I would be as sure of myself enabling me to hang in there chasing this dream of mine even when the going gets tough.

To be continued..............

Final Notes

Visit Blog Village and vote daily for this blog Here They are now measuring the rankings by votes out, so if you find my blog on the site, please click that link too to improve my rankings. TY


  1. It's great that you hung in there for Dandy,like you say, it's the only option for people like us. It must have been hard at times and I'm sure it still is to keep him working as much as he needs to for his symptoms. Great job MiKael!

  2. Hi MiKael
    Despite the tragedy of all of this I have enjoyed reading Dandy's story which I have just caught up on.

    I have told you that we lost our old Sonny Dee Bar stallion Sonny Dee Bee to EPM. His was triggered by his being cast in his stall one night and not being found until the morning when he had been under such stress trying to get up that it had "activated" the parasite. This was shortly before I came over here and he was well into his treatment by the time I arrived but it was painful to watch him as he was a beautiful horse and we can attribute our horses' good dispositions and great heads to him. The medication was costly and L had tried all of the drugs, acupuncture the works, he was 24 years old but his spirit was still strong but his body couldnt suppport it and we had to put him down the year after I came here. That was my first brush with losing a horse and very traumatic. We buried him on our property despsite not really being allowed to and I know it sounds crazy but I still talk to him whenever I am in that part of the field. I only knew him for 2 years, but I get strongly attached. I know it had cost a small fortune treating him because we were still paying the vet off every month for over a year after I arrived here.

    I am so glad that Dandy has had a more positive outcome, I know how prescious he is to you.