Author Archives: mramishaphiyr

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This is a blog about Sonia's progress through her EPM (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis) treatment. Sonia was diagnosed with EPM July 20, 2011. Thankfully, the disease was caught early.



I had a surprise visit today while I was at the barn this morning giving Sonia her daily dose of Marquis when our vet’s assistant came in looking for Sonia. Turns out they stopped by to look at her and see how she’s being now that it’s been a few weeks now. He said she’s MUCH better and to finish out ALL tubes of Marquis and she should be good to go after this. He said her muscling and body quality is much better¬†and will continue to improve on the sweet feed and Marquis. He said the way she looks is basically what recovery looks like. She is definitely down the road to recovery!

Yes, she still looks a bit slim, but she is nowhere near where she used to be. This is good news for her! He also said that once the Marquis is done and we used the very last dose, she can go down to one scoop of Thyro-L medication instead of two. More good news there! Let’s keep it up!


More pictures from today.


It’s hard to see any progress from looking at her every day, so I use pictures to help see it clearly. Here are a few from today (after her shampoo and conditioner bath) to show any improvement in muscle and body quality. She was so dirty. That’s the one thing about grey horses… they show their dirt so easily. It’s also hard taking pictures of your horse that A.) wants to eat the grass under her feet, or B.) wants to eat your camera. ūüôā

So sad to think the warm weather will be coming to an end sooner rather than later, so our bath days will be becoming more and more limited as the days go on. In lieu of the fall weather coming in a month or two, I just ordered her a brand new Saxon turn out sheet and threw out the old one because the one she had for a few years now was all torn up, etc. It was time for a new one, so I decided to buy her a pretty colored one… same brand.¬†¬†Saxon’s just fit her right. I have a feeling after this summer the fly sheet she has now, that fits her awkwardly:¬† (I have the detachable neck piece too) will be going in the trash. It is ripping everywhere and it makes her really hot when turned out at times in the summer… and this is when I need the sheet the most. I might need to go for a lighter sheet like the Big D fly sheet.

It’s so hard to believe today was day 16 on Marquis. Sonia is very upset that she has to keep taking this paste every morning, sometimes she rebels by throwing her head up once I get the syringe in her mouth. I try to encourage her and make it a “happy time” by giving her peppermints afterwards, which she really looks forward to. I don’t want to sour her to the fact that all syringes are bad. She usually takes her wormer excellently every two months, so I would hate for this to ruin that attitude she has.

Yesterday we went on a nice trail ride (walked only) with a friend and the horse she has been showing all year. Sometimes my horse is a leader, but yesterday was not one of those days. We went all the way to Mr. Blake’s house (I always called him Mr. Friendly’s because I didn’t know his name until recently – this is one of the brothers who founded Friendly’s Ice Cream Company) then back home. His property is so nice. He loves to see the horses and riders in his backyard and he’s built all sorts of bridges for the horses to cross water, etc. It’s a nice perk to being where we are, the trails are excellent. Some are actually REAL trails through woods, not just through someone’s crop fields. I’ll have to video a trail ride soon. Still can’t get Sonia to go into the water though.

Onward and upward.



I think she looks better… maybe?

I was really looking at Sonia today after we did a bit of side-rein lungeing and after her bath. I think she may be getting a bit more fat. Possibly due to the sweet feed that she is on, but either way, hoping this is the beginning of the road to recovery. ¬†Here are some pictures from today in the gallery above. It’s so hard to notice slight changes when you see your horse every day.

Today was not her day. After her bath, I brought her in to give her her daily dose of Marquis. Well, she was NOT having it! She locked her jaw, and once I was able to get past it, she threw up her head and the tube went flying. Only a little bit of the medicine came out. After a slight attitude adjustment, she took her normal dose with minimal upset. I guess I would be feeling like that if someone gave me nasty tasting medicine every day. Can’t blame her, but I am so glad only a little bit was lost.

I left the barn for a few hours after that to meet some ladies from the barn for lunch. I had to cut my time there short because I had to get back to the barn for Sonia’s farrier appointment. Just for haha’s, in the above gallery is an image from a few hours ago when she was getting her shoes reset. You can really see how boney she is here just by having the farrier lift her right hind leg and place it on the stand for him to trim.

I know I keep hoping for miracles when I walk into the barn. Hopefully hers will come soon.

Losing track.


I am losing track of the days now, good thing I am marking it on the calendar. Someone today told me Sonia is looking a little meatier than before – she couldn’t really see her ribs anymore. It was a relief to hear but I know we’re not out of the clear yet. To me she looks more thin than before but it’s hard to tell when you see her every day. Small changes are less apparent. Sonia is getting used to her daily morning ritual of… mommy comes to see me, she gets out the big nasty tube of medicine, makes me eat it then gives me a peppermint as a reward…¬†Poor thing, it must really taste gross. I would imagine it being like crushing up some tylenol, soaking it with water to make ¬†some sort of a paste then dispensing it on your tongue. It must be absolutely repulsive, however she is taking it well. Can’t ask for more right now considering we have three (plus) more weeks to go with this stuff.

The other day I went to the feed store and bought her some sweet feed to help boost her appetite. I bought two bags of Poulin Decade Eventer 10:10. It is helping her eat her Thyro-L supplement without having to soak her grain or add any oils to it. She is slowly working her way to getting a half scoop in the morning and a half scoop at night of this sweet feed with her regular grain. I am not too concerned about her getting hot as she is not really in any work program right now.

I am also up in the air about actually removing the SmartMuscle Mass supplement from her SmartPaks. I think I may just keep it on and not go with the Vitamin E and Selenium. My vet said she is getting enough of it from other sources and the Vitamin E and Selenium thing tends to be a bit overrated. I think I’ll just stick with the SmartMuscle Mass and forego the vitamins for now. It is just way expensive to have her on this along with the muscle and joint supplement. It would be over $100 a month, and being laid off from a job is hard to balance money issues. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Unless I hear otherwise, I’ll just stick with what we have and what was recommended by the vet. Anyone out there have any insight to this?

The farrier comes up this  Monday, the 8th, to reset her front plates. I am contemplating just having him remove them. She goes barefoot after show season is over anyway and all through the winter. I guess she just has good feet for it (knocking on wood here). However, if she can bounce back from this EPM business quickly, we still have time to work her back into shape before the winter comes. We do have an indoor arena where we are, but when the winter comes, I get too cold and hate riding much. Hmm.

It was nice to hear a stable-mate’s husband tell me the other day that he has a soft-spot in his heart for Sonia. He said he really likes her and hopes she makes it through this unscathed. It was nice to hear someone say that out of the blue. She tends to have a way to capture people’s hearts. It’s one of the things I love about her – she isn’t mareish, she is sweet, calm and generally a good girl. Another stable-mate told me that Sonia has many people rooting for her and hoping for a full recovery. Now that was heart warming to hear. We aren’t alone in the battle.

Tomorrow’s another day.

Marquis – day six.


I’ve been noticing lately that Sonia is looking a little more bony and thin than before we started the Marquis. I am hoping this is the “die-off” period and that the medication is working. Sort of a “worse before it gets better” thing maybe? I’ve been reading that some people notice their horses get worse on Marquis just a little bit before they get better and this is caused by the die-off of the S. Neurona protozoa in her system. ¬†I am keeping my fingers cross that this is what it is. I hope when we hit the 10-day mark she will start to show some progress and start looking more normal. I just can’t afford another Marquis treatment if this one doesn’t work… but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Sonia has been in very light work since starting Marquis 6 days ago per our vet’s directions. She has been ridden twice, one on a short walking trail ride and once in the outdoor ring doing a few laps of trot and a lap of canter both directions. We did a trail ride yesterday with a friend and she was great. Still no signs of neurological issues but the muscle wasting is very apparent and this is making me decide not to ride her until she starts really showing some improvement. We will still stick to light ground work for now.

I have been going up every day around the same time each day and administering the Marquis myself. This is working out for me because I know what she’s getting. However, the instance of the Thyro-L medication… she is so picky. We have resorted to soaking her grain and supplements/Thyro-L into a mash and feeding it this way. It’s working, she’s eating it without any issue. Picky eater indeed.

I took more pictures of her the other day (July 30th) to chart her progress some more. It’s hard for me to see any improvement since I see her every day. What do you think?


Sometimes I walk into the barn and hope to see a completely fixed horse that is a normal weight, completely muscled and happy again. It is so depressing to see her this way and yet she still goes on as if she is not sick. Must be a mare thing – stoic, proud and doesn’t let on to anything until physical things start to surface. This is so frustrating. I just want her to go back to the way she was before this all went down.¬†Since getting the Thyro-L, she has gotten a bit more spunky, maybe a bit too spunky. ūüėČ

I am going to remove the SmartMuscle Mass supplements from her SmartPaks and replace it with Vitamin E & Selenium pellets in it’s place. This is a way to help fight off the EPM infection, etc. and to save me a few bucks in the meantime. At this point the muscle building supplements aren’t doing anything for her anyway and they haven’t really been since May because of the EPM. Why pay for something that isn’t really serving a purpose at the moment? I can always switch her back on to it when she goes back into steady work, but when… that is is not 100% ¬†known yet.

Onward and upward.

Marquis – day one.


Sonia got her ‘starter’ tube of the Marquis EPM medicine today. What I mean by this is someone I know (who is a vet, mind you, and the same person who ordered me the Marquis – for lower cost, too!) had one full tube left from a different horse and she let me have this tube while I wait for my own full box to come in. It doesn’t expire ’til next year, so I was so happy to start her treatment earlier than I thought! I was pretty shocked at how HUGE the tubes are, but if it’s one tube a week, so be it. I have decided to administer her myself every day so I can be sure she is getting the correct dose properly every day. Sometimes if you leave it up to others you never know if she gets the correct dose or if it was missed one day, etc. This way, I will be sure. Around 12pm today I gave Sonia her first dose of Marquis. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this will be the cure-all after the 4 weeks is over and we can leave this EPM business behind us.

I cannot get over how expensive this stuff is. It’s especially hard since I was laid off of work in June and have not been able to find anything since. Unemployment is holding me over but I’d like to go back to making what I was making before, thank you. I know some people have had to administer several treatments of Marquis before it works fully, so I hope this one treatment is it for her.

The other day I had her turned out in the indoor arena so she could do whatever she wanted alone. She was bucking around and galloping around with no issues. I took a video of her escapades in the indoor arena. I was mainly watching for any missteps, weakness or losing her footing through any tight turns and couldn’t see any problems. Looks like right now it’s still just loss of muscle/weight that the EPM is manifesting as.

As you can see from the above video, she is acting just fine neurologically. Please excuse her dirty coat but look at her move and her silly antics, she was feeling great! Yesterday she was extremely lethargic and slobbering (clover slobbers, I suspect) so I let her just rest. Today I rode her and only did a few laps around the outdoor ring trotting both directions, lots of walking on a loose rein and cantering half way around the arena one time, both directions. She was pretty steady and spunky during our half hour ride. I don’t want to ride her hard because of how she has no muscle… imagine trying to carry some weight if you had no muscle. When I was riding her, I looked back at her rump and you can really see the loss of muscle back there. It was depressing. The vet said to do light work with her if she feels up to it, so this will be our life the next 4 weeks, then it’s back to muscle building. I’ve had her on SmartMuscle Mass by SmartPak since the beginning of May to try to build her muscle up, so I hope this will kick in! She is also on SmartFlex III Ultra pellets by SmartPak to help her joints during this hard time. I think I will just keep her on it after this is all said and done. It’s beneficial for her – sickness or not. I also ordered Vitamin E & Selenium pellets by SmartPak to be added into her SmartPaks to help aid her recovery. The Vitamin E and Selenium will come next month in her paks since I just received my current shipment and I was too late to add them in before they shipped out.

Sonia acting lethargic on July 26, 2011

She is also doing well on her Thyro-L supplement, there is definitely some more spunk in her attitude since she’s started it. A few people at different times have told me that she doesn’t look so “ribby.” I am noticing though that her grain appetite is not so hot over the past few days, though. Since she won’t eat the Thyr0-L plain as a powder, I got some corn oil to wet it so it adheres to her grain. This worked for a few days, but now she’s not eating it much anymore. I suspect she is on to my trickery. I will either try molasses or chunky apple sauce to get her to eat it. I hate how she is so picky when it comes to eating things.

At the end of it all, I am hoping the Marquis is going to restore her to normalcy and we can go back to a normal life.

One day down… 27 more to go on this medicine.

Diagnosis day…


Yesterday Sonia was diagnosed with having EPM and hypothyroid disease. She tested a 0.2 on her thyroid blood work when the norm is between 2.0–5.0!¬†She started her Thyro-L supplement¬†yesterday morning as well, to try and combat the low thyroid problem. This would also explain her lethargy and general dopey demeanor. I am sure the summer heat is not helping her either.¬†However, being the picky eater that she is, she refuses to eat powders, so we have to lace her powder with corn oil or apple sauce in order for her to want to eat it. If she doesn’t, it will end up at the bottom of her feed bucket and forgotten. This can’t happen because now this supplement is very important in maintaining her health.

Sonia’s EPM diagnosis wasn’t that big of a surprise but it was one I did not want to see realized. She lost a lot of muscle from the end of winter and no matter what we did to try to help build her back up, the muscling never came. Her appetite was fine, she was riding and working fine, and did not have any bad attitudes (beyond her normal one.. lol). She does not have any un-coordination, she is able to be ridden, and does not show any neurological problems. The only tip off was the muscle wasting. I kept my fingers crossed for her condition being related simply to the low thyroid, but low and behold, it was both, and one hand feeds the other, so this is where we are today.

I decided to start a little journal/blog about her progress from the diagnosis, through treatment and beyond. Hopefully it will shed some insight on the conditions, watch the changes of her body and hopefully make a recovery.

Please take a moment to vote on a poll:

Here are the starting images, taken yesterday after the vet’s phone call and after her bubble bath. She was all muddy… and we can’t have that for pictures!