Why Test for PSSM?

Why should you test? Because you're all they have and they will run to the ends of the earth because you asked them to.

Elle Newlands, Thousand Oaks, CA, USA

Why test? Because no horse deserves to have unexplained pain, weakness or under saddle discomfort. No amount of training or making them work harder, or doling out punishment for "misbehaving" is going to change muscle disease without answers and a management plan. In the flurry of diagnosis, I had to shift gears and wrap my head around exercise protocols and diet management but the one thing I really explored, was the emotional impact this hit with. I had only had Nochera 2 years, most of those preceding years filled with strange lameness, an often withdrawn and sour mare and unexplained explosions under saddle.

I brought everyone in for consultation and treatment in that time - vets, lameness experts, chiropractors, acupuncturists,osteopaths, massage therapists, energy healers and even an animal communicator. If you had told me that fairy dust could be acquired and used, I would likely have gone deep undercover and black market for that.

No one had the correct answer until instinct and a friend mentioning PSSM, led me to biopsy. As it was, I was left with a diagnosis in September 2015, that made no sense. No one else that I knew of on the forums had been told their horse had MFM (Myofibrillar Myopathy), so in an instant, we were the representatives for something obscure, throwing us into relatively uncharted waters.

I could talk at length about how difficult this has made my life as a first time horse owner but the truth is, as hard as it is for me, this is her disease and I am the trusted caretaker, so my focus is on her. She went downhill late last year. I thought I would lose her. I suddenly remembered the few trail rides we had gone out on and her wanting to gallop up the hills. Because of her unexplained issues at that time, I held her back.

When I thought she might die, my heart broke, wishing for one last gallop where she could fly. I cried into her mane and apologized for not trusting the full expression of her power. As the days passed, she got stronger and I got back on and we started to wander the property slowly, bare back in a halter. One day in January, she came to the bottom of a long hill and I felt it. Her body and her mind clicked into place and before I knew it, she turned, gave me one look and we were galloping bareback up that hill. At first I tried to stop her but she seemed to ask me to trust her, so I did, and with tears of joy streaking down my smiling face, she showed me why she pulled through and stayed here.

Why should you test? Because you're all they have and they will run to the ends of the earth because you asked them to.

Elle Newlands
Thousand Oaks, CA, USA
Lighting the way: Nochera's Journey with Myofibrillar Myopathy

The heartbreak is never mended.

Charly Makray-Rice, Montello, WI, USA

The heart breaker is most of us bought our dream horses. I bought Maggie knowing she would be the last horse I'll ever own. I'm too old, retired, on a limited income, to ever afford to do this again. She was supposed to be the horse I'd ride into our sunset years with. The truth is, in 6 years, 4 of them, she's been either totally unrideable, or wonky, partially lame. We've only had two years on those trails. They were the first 20 months I owned her, and 4 months last fall of short 3/4 miles rides through the mowed hay fields. The time arrives when we have to make the down because they're in too much pain. We were lucky, two different vets told me she wasn't ready yet, then I got the probably PSSM diagnosis and we started treating late last spring. It's stabilized her. I feel horrible for the people that have tried to sell their PSSM horses because life changed, and they couldn't keep them anymore. No one wants to buy a PSSM horse. It's terrible to part with a piece of your heart, worse when you know you can't find a secure home for it. Anyone that's just into flipping horses, or throwing them into an auction when they're outgrown their use, to us, they're the scum at the bottom of barrel. Our horses are for life. That's the passion of the information we're passing along. If you're in it for the long haul, for the life span of the horse, thru what ever might come in your life ... for richer or poorer, thru good and bad, only then should you buy the horse.

... and they are the patient, kindest, most soulful horses. The crap they put up with, the empathy we give them, and the return on investment is our reward. But still, the heartbreak is never mended.

Charly Makray-Rice
Montello, WI, USA

I will never put myself through owning a PSSM horse again.

Rick & Kim Adams, Seville, OH, USA

I currently have an Arabian mare in Paul's study. This is NOT a disease for sissies. This disease is very hard to manage, even with the hours of researching what works, or doesn't work, for your horse. It is gut wrenching and brings me to tears and sleepless nights often.

The results I have received from the study so far is, she doesn't carry the QH variant, which we knew. It is noted that it is a variant of PSSM, and does look to be adult onset which will probably progress. I have tried all the diets, supplements, etc. None have made much of a difference. She is a very laid back girl. If she does rip around in pasture playing with our gelding, she ends in a tie-up episode and we are back to square one. Trying to bring her back currently from her last tie-up. I have her up to about 10 min. at a walk and that is medicated with Robaxin. I am running out of options. I will never put myself through owning a PSSM horse again. Everyday is emotional. Hard decisions all the time.

Rick & Kim Adams
Seville, OH, USA

I would never purchase a horse, knowingly, that has PSSM.

Crystal Messer, San Tan Valley, AZ, USA

PSSM is a devastating disease. You never know when, or if, it's going to strike.

One day you have a perfectly healthy horse, running and playing in the pasture, and the next you walk out and he won't move... he can't move... you have to drag him to the water trough and then you call the vet. 7 times out of 10 the vet has no idea what is going on. You spend thousands of dollars on treatments and get zero answers.

When you finally put the clues together and get your horse tested, you think to yourself, "Well, now I know the answers. I can help my horse." But this disease is the worst. Even though you know what is wrong, you can't always help your horse.

You try diets, exercise, and literally every thing you can think of, hear about, and read about, and the best you can do is hope that your horse will get back to "normal".

You have days where they're doing so well, you almost forget they've got PSSM... and then the next day, your contemplating euthanasia because your horse can't walk without pain, and can't stand for the farrier.

I love my horse, and I will do anything I can to make him "better" but the ups and downs are so hard to take. I would never purchase a horse, knowingly, that has PSSM.

People who knowingly breed horses with this disease.are doing a terrible disservice to the animals, and the need to eradicate this disease is great.

Crystal Messer
San Tan Valley, AZ, USA

During the days where she was in extreme pain, she was not safe to be around. She would strike out at the other horses and people.

Kris Stoop, Deer Park, WA, USA

Several years ago we purchased a young, big, strong, bold paint for my daughter to do dressage and jumping on. The horse was beautiful and was halter bred but was also very athletic. At the time we bought her, the owners were trying to get that last extra 100 pounds on her so her muscles would really pop. She was being given grain and beet pulp and all to get that look. Famous Review, or Fancy, liked to jump and was fun to ride, worked well in the arena or out on trails but she had horrible heat cycles. We tried all sorts of things from supplements to implants. We even did the age old breeding her. During an ultrasound to check for pregnancy, we discovered she had polycystic ovarian disease. We contributed a lot of her behavior to this. During a heat cycle, she was almost un-rideable. She would bite at her flanks, pant, was in pain. This made it hard to travel for shows and events. Professional advice given was to give her bute.

Events quickly became difficult for the mare and my daughter. The first day at a venue would be great. Fancy would behave and work hard. They would always place in the top riders. The next day, however, was almost consistently a different story. Fancy would buck, rear up, become difficult to handle, and we would often end up just going home. Sometimes she would break out in hives so we were led to believe maybe it was environmental and allergic reaction. As the odd behavior progressed, my daughter was less interested in riding her out to other places.

One night in a bad storm, Fancy went through a fence and pulled a stifle. We had the vet out and ended up giving 3 doses of sedation as she would burn through the medication within minutes. She then fell and detached her retina. At that point, she was put on retirement and just ridden as a pleasure horse on the trails. Again, her behavior was erratic. One day she would be amazing and gentle. My 3-year-old granddaughter would ride her and it seemed we found Fancy a job but then there would be days where you couldn't even get a saddle on without her biting at herself or you.

In 2010, I had a serious accident on my horse involving a seizure. It became obvious in the following weeks that he was in a lot of pain and we had him euthanized. It was after this, as I was researching causes and studying videos of other horses with similar symptoms, I discovered PSSM. I thought it was new as I had been involved in the horse world, 4-H, Pony Club, but this was disease I had never even heard of. We became very suspicious that this is what my gelding may have had as it described a lot of what I had to deal with as his owner. Then I began to highly suspect Fancy might have PSSM. I pulled hairs and sent them in for testing. It was no surprise when the results came back n/P1.

During the days where she was in extreme pain, she was not safe to be around. She would strike out at the other horses and people. After she kicked one of my daughters while just walking through the pen, we decided that it was just not safe with small kids around to keep her. We decided to have her euthanized.

We dealt with frustration for 12 years. We were told it was a training issue, it was a mare issue, it was a rider issue, saddle fit, you name it. In the end, this magnificent horse taught us a lot about patience. We could have sold her, thought about it many times, but in the end with the knowledge of PSSM, I am so thankful that we never did sell her where someone may have been seriously injured and thankful that no one in my family was ever seriously injured.

Kris Stoop
Deer Park, WA, USA

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