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CASE STUDY:  Fall 2015

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Lyme Disease: Loss of Forward Motion at Trot: Muscle, Joint or TICK BORNE ILLNESS?? How to differentiate and treat?

Problem: I was recently called to work on a 5 yr old warmblood gelding. The owner/rider stated the young horse did not want to trot. He would kick out and refuse to trot. I did not think it was the result of a tight muscle, but the owner asked if I would take a look at the horse anyway.

Assessment: Upon assessment through gait analysis at the walk, and palpation, I did not find any muscle tightness in the horse’s body, except some slight tightness in the lower lumbar region of the back. I noticed that the horse was quite weak in the stifles particularly the quadricep muscles which were appropriately weak for his age. (Warmbloods mature up to eight yrs old). Both stifles were slightly swollen.

I suggested the horse may be going through a fall growth spurt as a 5yr old, which may create discomfort in the stifles. I believe, the stifle muscles are the last to get strong in the development of the horse. To rule out any veterinary problems related to his refusal to trot, in addition to the swollen stifles, I suggested she call her veterinarian.

Vet Exam: The vet assessed the 5 yr old horse and thought there were two problems going on. He felt the sacro-iliac ligament was slightly sprained and the horse needed his stifles injected. After injecting the sacro-iliac ligament and both stifles of the 5 yr old, the horse was no better!

Cause of Problem: Could it be Lyme?? The owner was very discouraged and told me there was no difference. I realized we were entering the height of tick season and suggested she pull a blood test for tick borne illness. Whamo! The horse’s blood work was off the charts for Lyme disease! The horse is being treated for Lyme and has already shown a significant difference.

Symptoms of Lyme and Co-Infections: “Each animal must be treated as an individual when it comes to tick borne illnesses”, according to Sue Lyman, a top show hunter/jumper rider and trainer from The Plains, Virginia.

Sue has personally and thoroughly educated herself on current Lyme/tick borne testing, symptoms, and treatments. She has found that “Clinical signs of the disease can include fever, loss of appetite, stiffness, lameness in multiple limbs, swelling of legs and joints, inflammation of the feet, uveitis, hypersensitivity to touch, changes in behavior, stiff necks and sore backs. Some horses have no fever and exhibit more subtle signs of the disease. These include heaviness on the front end, tripping, inability to pick up, change, or swapping off leads, the inability to travel straight, and general weakness. Infected horses sometimes exhibit neurological disorders and colic. I have found it helpful to have a list of symptoms for each individual horse to tailor treatment.”

Sue has recently written a very impressive and thorough article covering most facets of the disease itself. I highly recommend reading her article for anyone who wants to understand the multiple facets of the disease and its treatment. The article is titled: “An Integrated Holstic Approach to Managing Chronic Lyme Disease in Horses” (click title to read the full article). Sue has made information on tick borne illness a personal and professional quest to understand and share all up to date components of the pathogen diseases related to Lyme and tick borne illnesses. Her great wealth of knowledge covers testing, to symptoms, to acute and chronic care. She is greatly respected for her knowledge of Lyme and its co-infections.

Sue Lyman's Profile:

Sue Lyman of The Plains, Virginia, is an accomplished competitive rider whose talents include recognizing potential in young prospects, breaking and starting young hunters and jumpers, and diagnosing and developing untrained or difficult horses so that they become easy for others to ride. Sue’s horse of a lifetime came in the form of a striking stallion named Simbalu. Simbalu, a thoroughbred who began his career on the racetrack found his way to Sue and together they moved to the top of the sport in the Working Hunter Division. Sue has started many very famous and successful show hunters including Roxdene, Irregardless, Townsend and Movado. She is currently showing and training top quality hunters. Sue is a USHJA certified trainer and currently serves on the USHJA Horse and Rider’s Committee. Her priority is the horse. She is dedicated to the selection and development of sound, successful hunters and jumpers based on a classic and varied training program emphasizing excellent horsemanship and building a strong foundation of essential skills in both horse and rider. In addition to training and competing, Sue successfully practices Reiki and Energy work with horses of all levels and disciplines in sport and is available to work with horses using these two modalities.

To contact Sue Lyman: email: suelyman1@gmail.com, visit her web site at www.suelyman.net, or call her at 703-999-7608.


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