First, everything is acutely fine. Nobody is dead or dying so there’s that up front. No tissues needed.
Yesterday I went to Windridge for a cross country school to help determine who would be riding him in the Feb 15th show. It went amazing. Best school of my life. So many wonderful things to write about and I had the Cambox so while helmet footage isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it is something.
But then after we got home shit hit the fan and I had to have the emergency vet out and well now everything sucks. So instead of writing about my most amazing afternoon, I’m going to write about this instead. Boo.
We got home at 4:15pm and I put Eeyore back in the pasture as I always do. Nothing out of the ordinary happened to be a red flag during the school or ride home. Trust me, I’ve about killed myself wracking my brain over what I did wrong. I was starving having not eaten all day so we ran to the local Waffle House for a cheap and quick dinner. When we came home 45 minutes later Eeyore was laying down in the pasture.
My first thought was “hahahahah look how tired he is!”. We called the horses in for dinner and he cantered to the gate so I didn’t think much else about it.
Until he didn’t even look at his dinner and did this instead
I thought he was dying. Seriously. I got him up and called the vet to come out and began walking. She said after 20 minutes to let him rest and only walk if he was trying to roll so we alternated hand walking and resting until she arrived.
Long story short: he wasn’t colicking. He had good gut sounds, heart rate of 44 and pink gums. She pulled normal, wet manure from his rectum and didn’t feel anything displaced. A tube into the stomach pulled out refluxed small intestine fluid and then he was back to trying to eat everything in sight and cribbing in his stall so she felt ok having him stalled for the night with water but no hay or grain. Diagnosed him with some excess gas and a weenie personality.
I felt a flood of relief until she looked at me and said “but we really need to discuss his 3/6 heart murmur”
Now he has seen a lot of good vets in the 1.5 years I’ve had him. He had his PPE May 2018, a thorough lameness eval Aug 2018 and his dental by a vet in March 2019. No mention of a murmur from any of them. A 3/6 is even audible by me, so no way it would have been missed by all three.
She asked if he had been sick at all or if his performance has changed suddenly.
He was his full blown raging energy monster self for the JBF show. I rode him hard the day before and the morning of and he had plenty of energy for all three phases. Then a month later we crashed at the FGF show because he had no energy. I blamed it on him being ridden hard the day before though that hadn’t affected him the previous show.
Ever since he has been subdued. Enough that Dusty and Trainer have commented. He breathes hard warming up for the lesson and lacks energy during. I’ve thought it was his training kicking in. I’ve thought it was his new evasion from real work. I’ve thought I’ve gotten better at riding him. Trainer worried enough that she prescribed a conditioning program on my hill at home.
Maybe I’ve been right. Or maybe his heart is giving out on him and he really doesn’t have the energy to do the work.
Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance can cause a heart murmur though the vet said not usually this pronounced or loud. Plus his heart rate was only 44 so while he was in pain from the gas, he wasn’t physiologically stressed enough to cause a murmur such as this.
Some murmurs aren’t an issue. Some can be managed. Some can cause the horse to pass out while galloping head long to a fence. The question is which one is this?
The other question is honestly, and excuse my language, wtf? How does an 8 year old horse, not in strenuous work, go from an undetectable murmur (or none at all) 1.5 years ago or really even 11 months ago, to a stage 3 with potential performance limitations? If it was a congenital valve defect it should have been present on his PPE or any exam thereafter. If it is degenerative, then that’s a big degeneration in a short amount of time and his prognosis is poor. Possibly infectious endocarditis but from what and how? I’ve read some articles and some say prognosis with that is 10% so let’s hope it isn’t that, ok?
My best guess with zero diagnostics and no cardiology education? It’s functional which exists. All those other evaluations were done after periods of rest. Normal heart function. Yesterday he worked hard for me, got dehydrated and became gassy which taxed him enough to not fully recover from the exertion and the heart murmur stayed.
Not sure what that means for prognosis on career or life span. Or anything for that matter.
Vet said to listen again tonight to see if after he returns to normal health, it sticks around though honestly I’m not sure that is going to change my course of action.
Dusty has asked that I not ride until we have this figured out. The risk of him fainting and breaking my body is too high without clearance that this isn’t going to happen. So the Windridge show is off the table as is everything else for the moment. We are going to set up an appointment with a cardiologist and figure this out. Maybe it is perfectly manageable with a strict conditioning program and sticking to the low level stuff I want to do anyway. Maybe it’s not and we are done.
I won’t know until we do some tests and see what’s going on with him and I absolutely refuse to horse shop again so he is just going to have to be manageable and that’s the end of that discussion.