September 30, 2019
Jax is n/P1, n/P2, n/Px. I got him when he was an unbroke 4 year old, and he was quirky that first year but then had over 2 great years of riding. He didn't go highly symptomatic until he was 8 years old, but right as he turned 8 he crashed hard. Early symptoms included shaky on trailer rides, sticky stifles when out of work, and on/off lameness. As he became more symptomatic he began urinating small amounts of dark brown at the end of the stream - he did this for about a year before major symptoms, right around the time he became overly spooky and started bolting under saddle. These symptoms progressed to shakiness verging on spasms during trailer rides (has gone into full-blown tie up on longer trailer rides), sticky stifles at all times to the point he could barely trot, lumbar and skin pain that would cause him to drop from pressure, couldn't hold up legs for farrier, and more drastic behavioral changes (aggression towards pasture mates, rearing during handwalks, crow hopping under saddle - but no full-on bucking, etc.). He started twisting his hind legs when walking, had a strange hitching gait in the back end (due to stifles), and had no trot or canter. He began to look crippled in the pasture at all times with regular pain relievers having no effect, and cold weather started causing colic/tie up episodes - I had to start blanketing him to stop the episodes. I got his PSSM1 results (n/P1) in September 2016 and instantly started him on PSSM1 management.
PSSM1 management failed for over a year. We tried different variations including ALCAR and high fat, with variations of each of those including different feeds and fat sources. Jax never had a good topline but it was getting worse, even with daily work. He was lethargic, had spasms often, and couldn't build muscle. His gut health deteriorated with high use of banamine to control episodes. His posture was all wrong (belly dropped and back sagging) and muscles were still very tense and tight. He was lightly worked (mostly short trails) daily but couldn't relax or build real exercise tolerance. He gained weight but it wasn't healthy - still no topline and barely any muscle. I started suspecting PSSM2 on top, and began adding small amounts of protein along with other supplements for RER as well. I began seeing improvement pretty quick, but we'd still have big setbacks (Negative Nitrogen Balance events where he'd lose muscle from minor colds, blood loss, and hoof abscesses) and he wasn't back to his normal self (very lethargic and quiet, still a bit tense, rigid back under saddle).
I received his PSSM2 results (n/P2, n/Px) around May 2018. I started raising protein dramatically and lowered fat, as oil was causing Insulin Resistance type symptoms with chronic low grade laminitis, cresty neck, and he was more symptomatic with hoof pain and IR-type changes. He started building muscle, including some topline, stifles stopped sticking, and muscles began to soften. He's currently in work as a trail horse and doing well, with no major symptoms and the only real triggers left being long trailer rides and weather (he has to be blanketed in cool/wet and cold weather). His attitude and willingness are back to where they were before he went symptomatic (he's a very sweet boy and tries to please!). His strength is still building but overall he feels really good and strong, but I have to be careful when building up after a couple of days off or after lighter weeks of work. He still tightrope walks (has always done that, but it became exaggerated when he was highly symptomatic) and can still get spooky on his “off” days, which are now pretty rare. He still has mild lumbar pain that goes away with exercise, and gets banamine maybe once a year now, though he does get herbal anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers on occasion. He enjoys work again and loves to explore, he's back to being my solid, trusty horse, but with very high maintenance to keep him that way.
Jax was one of the 10% that didn't come back with PSSM1 management. For the first year with only PSSM1 management, it looked like he'd have to be retired (and from past experience with him, I know retirement will be the end for him). On a hybrid PSSM1/PSSM2/RER management plan he's doing amazingly well - still quirky but I have my fun-loving horse back! I'm so thankful for all of these tests, both old and new, as I couldn't have gotten my horse healthy again without them! EquiSeq helped save this beautiful boy's life!