***This is kind of sad just as a warning***
If you’ve followed us for at least a year, you’ll know that Eve is hella accident prone and gets told she’s gonna die on a daily basis from our vets. Each time, she bounces back to as close to 100% as a dinosaur could get. This latest diagnosis though is a little bit tougher to talk about, but I’m finally at peace with it to share. Eve has spent a good portion of her life on social media, so I think it’s only fair to share what could be our last “adventure” with everyone.
How It Started
2021 was a rough year for us. Me especially because that summer I had ended a good relationship with a guy who treated me probably the best I’ll ever get treated by a guy, but we were just incompatible long term. I left a job I loved a lot, but management sucked. I started a new job and made new friends, but I felt like I was starting over. My anxiety about my future was just slowly escalating that year and then on Christmas Eve it just blew up.
I went up to the barn to see Eve and she was standing with her scar leg out to the side. I just broke down right there in the field and sobbed like my life was falling apart. And Eve was just standing there looking at me like uhh, you need a minute? I needed several, and a call to @katie.a.b to calm my ass down. I had my dog with me as well who was genuinely concerned about my well being. The plan was to take Christmas photos, but I ended up having a mental breakdown instead.
But once I composed myself, I walked Eve into the barn. Nothing was swollen. She was walking just off in the backend. Not enough that I wanted to call the vet out right then and there, but it was definitely a wtf do I do moment. Eve had been really active galloping and rolling in the field that entire month. The ground was hard, so I figured she just hurt herself somehow. I kept her in the stall overnight and posted pics to Instagram where a couple people said it could be a stifle issue.
The next day on Christmas, I took Eve out and walked her around. She was spicy af, so I just put her out in the field to see what she would do. She took off cantering. I was like ok you’re fine. Like I’m not even calling the vet. Instead I had the chiropractor and acupuncturist out to do some work on her. Eve moved a lot better after the sessions. I was like ok, problem solved. She was still just ever so slightly off in the backend, but not enough to warrant a concern. I mean, she’s 30 years old, and it had been below freezing temperatures. She already moves weird in the winter, so I didn’t think anything of it.
How It’s Going
Everything was fine and dandy until about 2 weeks ago. My barn told me that when Eve came in to eat, she was walking almost sideways. She was parked out and standing really bizarre. I noticed she was holding her scar leg out again as well. I had no idea what was wrong. I called the vet this time around just to check her out. They watched her walk, pulled her tail to the side, crossed her legs over each other and then pulled her tail at the walk. Eve stood firm when her tail was pulled, but when she started walking and her tail was pulled, she was easily manipulated. She did fix her back legs when they were crossed over, which was good. She also wasn’t stepping on herself or tripping, so she wasn’t too far gone yet. When she walked in a circle, she really exaggerated swinging her hind legs around.
They said it was definitely neurological. It could be EPM, but that would be expensive to treat and considering she had looked bad and then looked good probably pointed to something else. They said most likely it was CVSM or a similar disorder where the spinal cord gets compressed due to osteoarthritis and the signals to the hind end gets blocked, so Eve doesn’t know exactly where her backend is. The vet treated with steroids, said to give bute for 2 weeks and pretty much just said to watch it and see what happens.
Another vet from our practice was going to the barn later in the week, so I got their opinion as well before I freaked the hell out. They basically said the same thing. Eve had compression in her lower spine that was blocking signals to her hind. There’s no way to tell what part of the spine is damaged without x-rays, but after watching her walk and flexing her neck, they said it was almost definitely just in her lower back. The bute had started to give her some mad diarrhea, so they said stop the bute since it wasn’t really helping anyway. They said the concern was if she was a danger to herself and others. They didn’t think she was a danger to others because she was still firm on her feet. However, they said she could possibly be a danger to herself if she were to lie down and not be able to get back up. They said keep her in a stall and just take it day by day, but it was definitely coming to the point where she would have to get put down if it worsened. There was nothing anyone could do.
And that f***ing sucks dude. It f***ing sucks. The worst part is that there’s nothing anyone could’ve done to prevent this. It’s not like she hurt herself being stupid. It’s a genetic disorder that she just happened to live long enough to trigger. It’s just luck of the draw. So basically eventually it will get to the point where Eve won’t be able to use her hindend anymore, and she will get put down. And this disorder only complicates things further if she injures herself in other ways. It’s going to always be there. She won’t recover from it. She might have good days and bad days, but it’s always going to be there.
The Treatment Plan
After I was done crying and having a meltdown, I came up with how we would treat this. We obviously cannot cure it. It won’t go away. However, we can slow the progression and get at least a little bit of improvement. I started by first putting Eve back on Cosequin ASU. She had been on it before, but I never saw a reason to keep it (and it was expensive af). But now we had a reason, so back on Cosequin ASU it is. It might not do anything, but we’re going to try.
Back on Track has blessed this horse in so many ways. Her scar leg used to stock up so much until we used her back on track boot, and now it’s so much better. I had always wanted to get the Back on Track therapeutic sheet, but again we never had a reason to – until today! Apparently Back on Track went under new management and stopped producing stock (lucky me!), so finding a sheet in her size was really hard. I finally found one on Smartpak for $300, plus $30 for overnight shipping because we needed this immediately. I ended up getting the mesh sheet for in stall use only. It worked out because it can be used in the winter or summer unlike the turnout sheet which can get hot in the summer. Right now, Eve is wearing it in her stall every night to try to keep the circulation going in her back and keep the muscles warm.
The weather is really awful right now, so there’s not much I can do but when the weather gets a bit warmer, we’re going to do some pole work just to keep her active and maintain some of that strength. Will it do anything? I don’t know, but gym days never hurt anyone right? There’s no hills at my barn, so we can’t do hill work to engage her hindend, so pole work it is.
I’m going to start scheduling her acupuncture appointments every few weeks to see if that helps. It helped the last time this happened, so I’m sure it’ll help again.
Where We’re At
We’re doing each one of these things slowly to see what helps and what doesn’t. She’s been on Cosequin ASU for 2 weeks now and she’s been wearing her Back on Track sheet for about a week. There has been improvement. It’s obviously never going to get better, so we’re just looking for more good days than bad days. Before we started treatment, I let Eve out in the field a couple days after the vet saw her. Stall rest wasn’t helping and being locked in a box isn’t a way to live. If she went out in the field, rolled and couldn’t get back up, well then it is what it is. I set her free and specifically told her to not lie down. Of course the first thing she does is of course lie down. Thankfully, she was able to get back up no problem. I was so relieved. It was definitely an unconventional way to get up, but she did it without hesitation which was really good news. Since then, she’s rolled almost everyday, and she’s still able to get back up. That was the biggest fear, so the fact that she’s functioning is really good news. She’s also still acting like herself bucking and being an idiot in the field. I don’t think anyone has told her that she has a neurological disorder. Whoops.
She still walks off, but she doesn’t dramatically swing her legs out when she turns anymore. She’s not walking sideways. She crosses her hind legs when she walks and trots, but she’s not tripping over herself or stepping on herself. She just moves real funky.
Where We Go From Here
I mean this diagnosis is trash. It’s not something anyone wants to hear. We all expect our horses to die eventually, but it makes it real hard when you know it’s coming. I mean, we all knew Eve’s time was coming, but knowing it’s around the corner and you can’t stop it really just sucks.
People were reassuring me that Eve’s had a good life, and she’s lived far, far longer than anyone expected. She’s been living on borrowed time for sure. I’m not sad for Eve. All horses die, and Eve is at a really good age that most horses never see. She’s been a spoiled brat the entire time we’ve had her, and she’s cheated death far more times than I can count. It sounds selfish, but I’m really just sad for me. I’ve known Eve since October 2007 when I was like 14 or 15. I’m 28 right now. I’ve had so many friends and boyfriends come and go, but she’s always been there. I can barely remember a time when she wasn’t there. Whenever I’m having a bad day, my go to place is to the barn to see her and just chill. It just brings me peace, and the fact that I have to adapt to life without her – I always knew it was coming, but f*** me dude. I always knew it was going to hurt, but actually experiencing the hurt is the absolute worst. She’s been a part of me, and I for sure will not be the same when she’s gone.
I’m trying to stay positive. I don’t cry every time I’m at the barn now. There’s no point in crying over what hasn’t happened yet. I can even talk about her diagnosis without breaking down in tears, so that’s good also. It’s just life, a sh***y part of life we all have to go through. I’m trying to handle it like a champ. It is what it is. I’m going to have her cremated for a few grand when the time does come, and I’ll also get one of those glass sculpture things that has her ashes in it also because I want it.
Right now, we’re just focusing on keeping Eve happy, and she is happy. She’s still able to get up and down, she’s not in any pain and she’s currently enjoying life and spending the last bit of money I have on her. That sheet low key is so f***ing expensive. Cosequin ASU is too. I can’t believe it. This horse just became ultra high maintenance. I love her so much though.
So that’s the tea spilled for you today. I don’t want anyone to be sad for Eve. It sucks what’s happening, but right now she’s doing fine. I’m hoping in the spring we see a little more improvement because the temperature will be a lot warmer. We’re just gonna keep on keeping on. Eve still doesn’t know she has an incurable neurological disorder, so please don’t tell her. She’s having a good time being a psycho in the field.