I had the sad experience today of witnessing an HyPP episode for the first, and I hope, the last time. We were at a registered horse sale and I noticed the filly in the stall next to one of the horses we were in charge of, seemed to be in pain. She had her stomach muscles drawn up tightly and she looked as though she had colic. On closer inspection, I saw her skin was crawling from her back flank area, across her sides and back, up to her neck. I looked at the copy of her papers taped to her stall and saw that it was a yearling filly by Kid Clu. She looked like she had bumps the size of large plums crawling under her skin. She was in a very small makeshift stall and I was afraid if she got down in the stall, she would become cast. A young gentleman helped me to keep the filly calm and on her feet while another lady who came over to help, went to the sales office to see if she could find the owner. It took approximately 20 minutes for the owner to be found and get back to take care of the filly. He administered medication and then blanketed and walked the filly for about 30 minutes before her episode finally ended and she was able to be put back in her stall. That poor filly looked totally drained of energy when it was over. I have been told by many HyPP breeders that the horses are not in any pain when they have episodes, but I can tell you THIS filly was in as much pain as any horse with a bad colic attack!
My 9 year old grandson was there and also witnessed the episode. He asked me what was wrong with that horse. The young man (about 20 years old) who had helped me with the filly also wanted to know what HyPP was. I explained to both of them that HyPP is a disease that some Impressive-bred horses have and what the different symptoms are, from mild up to and including, death. Both were shocked to learn that people actually breed horses with this disease on purpose. Both asked WHY any one would breed sick horses. I explained the best I could, although it is something I don't understand myself. I told them that AQHA doesn't not have any rules against breeding for HyPP and that as long as there aren't, people will continue to do it, since they feel it makes there horses easier to fit for showing. My grandson plans to start showing in 4-H next year, and he decided to write a letter to the AQHA himself. He told them what he saw and asked them why they let people breed horses who are sick, and would they please make them stop. If you haven't sent your letters to your registry associations, PLEASE do so now.
(Used with permission of author)
I’ve had a lot of people e-mail me regarding my last post. Some want me to leave, because I am obviously anti-halter. Only I’m not, I love the halter horse. I have had someone tell me that because I don’t own a positive horse, I have no business discussing it. And I’ve had a person tell me that if I had seen an attack, I’d realize that its not that big of a deal. That’s where you’re wrong. I’m going to tell you why I
am so against the breeding and promotion of positive horses.
Five years ago I was helping a local 4-H club put on a two-day clinic about pattern classes, (horsemanship,showmanship, eq etc.). As I was watching the kids
warm-up the first morning, my eyes immediately caught a really pretty little sorrel. He was a nice little mover, above what we usually see in 4-H down here.
At the break I found this kids parents and asked them about the gelding. They were just overjoyed with him. They had found him at a sale as a yearling, and knew
that he was out of a WC stallion. I asked them what the dams side was, and the dad said he didn’t know, the horse was not registered. I found that a bit strange, as a horse this nice was obviously out of a good mare as well. But they were happy because they had gotten a good deal on him, he had a fabulous disposition, and their little girl just adored him.
The rest of the clinic went on until the lunch break of the second day, when the whole group of parents and kids were outside having a bbq, while the horses were put up in the stalls. All of a sudden the little girl comes screaming down the barn aisle saying that something is wrong with ‘scooter’ she was crying, so all immediately jumped up to find out what was going on. When I got to the stall, my heart was taken aback. ‘scooter’ was down in the stall amidst in a full blown
attack. Not a little muscle on the side attack, his whole body was racked with spasms. I recognized it immediately, and had one of the parents call the vet
from the cell phone. Meanwhile this horse is literally screaming for breath. I have never seen the fear and panic that was in that horses eyes. Luckily the Vet was only 3 miles away, and we thought he should be here in time. We had no Karo, no acetazolamide. I asked the owners if he had ever had an attack before, they asked an attack of what? They knew nothing about the disease, and had never seen the horse show symptoms. Of course they might have, but just not known what it was.
To make this long story shorter. The Vet never made it in time. About a minute after getting off the phone, his eyes went glassy, and the muscles stopped. I will
also never forget the look on the faces of the parents and the kids who were there. I won’t go into details into how they had to get the horse out of the stall.
Five kids quit the club that day. I seriously don’t know if they ever came back. The horse owner's daughter never rode again. They sold the equipment to
another 4-H kid, and the girl now plays soccer, and is very good at it. I have seen her numerous times and have tried to get her to come out for a ride, or to help out with the club. But she always says no. That look in her eyes when she remembers what happened could break steel.
*****Jenny & Dottie*****
(Names of Jenny and Dottie are being use for anonymity at author's request)
On Saturday, July19th of this year I found myself in the back of an ambulance with my daughter in a neck brace strapped to a board. What possibly could have gone wrong to cause her horse to behave in such a manner. She was loping slowly, Dottie's head dropped suddenly and she seemed to "suck back" to try to stop herself. The local website reports "It was the worst crash I'd ever seen" and "the helmet saved her life". Thankfully, my daughter's neck was not broken. She fractured her shoulder in two places and had a cut inside her mouth down to the jaw bone. A sort of explosion in her mouth from the impact. The next few days were a series of doctors appointments. Orthopedic surgeon first. Oral surgeon next. We were told she needed oral surgery to repair the cut in her mouth.
The horses are boarded at a local ranch. During these days after the fall I checked on the horses daily, but wasn't as attentive as usual. Dottie seemed a little depressed, but I tell myself she must be missing Jenny and feel badly about what happened. Tuesday, I didn't go to the ranch. (I'm sure Tuesday was a crisis day for Dottie). Jenny was too upset after the oral surgery and I felt I needed to stay home with her.
Wednesday, I drive up and as I am opening my car door I realize immediately there is something terribly wrong with Dottie. Her head is dropped, her breathing is labored, she is sweaty, and her skin is periodically twitching in different places across her body. She looks as though she is struggling to stay on her feet. Instinctively, I start walking her. The vet arrives within 20 minutes. Dottie is diagnosed with a large impaction. The vet asks if I have insurance on her, and advised me Dottie might not pass this on her own. She explains that colic surgery will cost $7,000 to $10,000. Dottie is 18 years old, I don't have insurance on her. The vet gives Dottie banamine and a gallon of oil.
I came home to pick up my daughter. Her face is still swollen and she can't open her mouth, but she needs to be with Dottie tonight. What if Dottie doesn't make it? We hung lanterns to her corral and watched her all night, walking her on and off every hour. Morning comes and Dottie has pooped once. We start her on little pieces of hay every couple hours and walk her every two hours.Over the next few days, Dottie slowly improved. She still didn't seem quite herself.
A week later the same sequence of events occurs. This time Dottie doesn't feel sweaty, but she is twitching and obviously suffering.The vet comes and says she has colic. I am told the twitching is a response to pain. This time she gets two gallons of oil down Dottie. The vet asks me to call Dottie's former owner and see if Dottie has been fed Alfalfa hay in the past. She tells me the first thing she would like to rule out is kidney stones. She asks me to call the vet at the local equine hospital to let them know I might need to bring Dottie in for tests.
This didn't seem like any case of colic I'd ever experienced. I contacted my friend who checked to be sure Dottie was HYPP n/n before I bought her. I asked what website she used or how she found out. She tells me she can't remember. We both search our computers that evening looking for information regarding the HYPP status of Dottie's sire and sire's sire. Nothing is found. The next day I call aqha, neither horses were on record for being tested. I call different quarter horse breeders in Texas and I am told that Pretty Impressive was positive.
I contacted Dottie's former owner. No she wasn't fed alfalfa in the past. This rules out kidney stones. I explain Dottie's symptoms and she tells me she's not certain Dottie is negative. Dottie has never had symptoms in the 9 years she's owned her. Her former owner calls her mother in law who breeds quarter horses (HYPP positive). She kept Dottie before she was shipped to California. She says it sounds like a back injury. Another friend emails me the form to send in the mane hairs to a lab in Texas (Shelterwood). She tells me she thinks this lab will be the quickest.
Three weeks went by. Dottie had good days and bad days. I'm starting to ask myself how many bad days I will let her have before I put her down. I have adjusted her feed to 3-way hay and oats, rather than alfalfa hay and alfalfa and molasses with her fluid flex. She is getting 1/4 cup karo syrup twice per day. I am learning and reading as much as I can about HYPP. It takes one more week for me to learn that red mineral salt blocks are high in potassium and shouldn't be given to horses with HYPP. Dottie seems to be doing better. 14 days go by and I haven't seen any twitching.
I phoned the lab after two weeks and I am told to call back the following week. The next Thursday I call the lab again, after placing me on hold for awhile, I am asked if my horse is in crisis. I said "No" not now, but she was two weeks ago. I am told the scientist would like to run another test and I should call back the next day. The phone call came to my work. I can't remember how they told me. I remember fighting back the tears. How could I let this happen to my daughter, how could our beloved Dottie have this terrible monster that I've only heard about. The lab person tells me to write down a few things. She is trying to make me feel better. I am told that Dottie only has a 50% chance of passing this to her offspring. I tell the lab employee that I had no intentions of breeding Dottie.
I phoned the vet to discuss my options. The vet explains that since Dottie has never had symptoms in the past, I should try to control her condition with diet. She lets me know she does have the drug in stock that Dottie will need in case of another severe episode. Another week passes and Dottie is feeling good. I start riding her lightly myself. Another two weeks pass and I start letting the kids ride her again. My daughter is still very frightened. She is not afraid of falling, but is afraid of having to go through oral surgery again.
I haven't trailered Dottie to any lessons or playdays since the accident. After learning that stress can cause attacks, I'm not sure that she should leave the ranch. I am thankful that my daughter hasn't lost her love of horses and that Dottie is doing so well. I would never had bought Dottie if I had know she was positive for HYPP. Although, Dottie does have a forever home with us.
I have always supported the viewpoint that horses which were positive for HYPP should not be bred. After what I have been through with Dottie, my opinion has been reinforced. Please help stop the breeding of HYPP positive horses. I see no reason why we should take a risk and possibly pass this disease on to another horse. I would like to see aqha require (older) horses with Impressive in their genecology, be tested before their papers are transferred. If Dottie had been tested, I am certain my daughter would never have been hurt.
If you have ever been close to an incident of a horse being down due to hypp, you would never buy one. I knew a young girl that boarded at a friend's barn. She had owned this mare a few months and was just starting to show her. Long story short - by the time the vet got there they was nothing they could do but put her down. It devastated this little girl. I would never buy a horse with hypp that I knew a child would get attached to. It is hard enough on adults.
When we bought our mare at the World Sale, it was reported that "not tested for HYPP" we "ass u me d" that she was n/h as the seller had told us. Well it turns out thatwe were the only ones there that didn't know she was HH. Even the gal at the lab where I had her tested was a little more informative than she should have. Leading me to believe that she had been tested there and her mother who was obviously n/h. I guess that wasn't the real statementwas it? These people did test her but didn't disclose the information. My husband and I are contemplating recourse. I just wonder? Can you subpoena test results that were ordered by someone else. That's beside the point now. We are stuck with her, can't sell her, bred her against my beliefs, but what else do you do with them? I have tried to sell her but people are' just scared of the double positive horses, because let's face it they are high maintenance..you can't just take off for a couple of days and let the neighbor feed twice a day for you.
I'm sure I sound kind of sour, sorry for that. People should just have to disclose test results if they are out there and if you don't the sales company should take action. Ahhh, but the almighty dollar gets in the way again ;)
I have seen some unnecessary things happen to horses with this disease. I knew a mare that had won a lot she was 6th (top 10 at least) at the youth world had her Superior in Amateur, & in Youth and was very close to getting it in Open. She was 3 they went out to feed her at 7:30, came back out at 12 and the mare was dead in her stall. FROM A "Seizure" or whatever technical name you would like to call it.
I have another friend that had a gelding that wasn't symptomatic and then one day he had one. They abided by everything that you are supposed to do. A month later they went out found him dead hanging in the panels. They did an autopsy on him and found that when he had his seizure he fell into the panel and broke his neck. No, hypp didn't kill him directly but in essence it did.
My N/H horse can and does flail around during attacks. The worst one he ever had lasted for almost 5 hours. He was down and could only move his head and neck, which he beat furiously on the ground until his mouth was bloody. This attack happened when he was taking 10 acetazolamide tablets per day and was on a carefully controlled diet. There were several other attacks of varying degrees the whole time he was stalled and on meds. When he does get back up after an attack he still acts drunk for about half an hour or so. Mentally he's fine but still has tremors for a while and staggers. Funny thing, even after the worst attack when his muscles were so tight they were rock hard for hours, he never acted sore or in pain. My vet at first prescribed bute for 2-3 days after a bad attack but I have never had to give it. He's out playing like a baby and chasing the dogs out of the roundpen as soon as the tremors are completely gone.
Currently, this same horse is on free turnout on fescue pasture and is eating 6 pounds of Strategy and 6 pounds of glazed oats (tested .47 % K) per day. He is not getting ANY meds and has not had a visible attack all summer. I credit the constant walking/exercise and the increased water intake from green grass for the improvement. I also suspect that when the grass gives out for the year and he has to go back on hay that we'll have to start meds again.
Just my .02 cents worth.
I happened to end up 3 years ago buying a QH first time in my live, she had a spell, and I took her to the vet, and found out about HYPP, and the impressive lines, the guy I got her from stated if I don't test I don't have to tell..Real nice isn't is, Its a real sham, Impressive was a nice guy but, breeder for the sake of money didn't care about the horses, that, they where inflecting them with HYPP.Makes me so mad, I was looking at another horse one time and the guy showed me his papers, and his father was my mares father, Impressive Viceroy, well I asked him if he was tested, and I told him I would pay to have the blood work done.. Never heard from the man again..HMMM makes u wonder ha?
Unfortunately, the AQHA does not require horses to be tested, they just "recommend" it. I think all breed registries should do what the government of Canada has done, and require that any horse carrying HYPP be gelded or spayed, and all remaining horses be tested. They are wiping out a disease in a single generation, and I commend them for these efforts.
The Bringing Light Group accepts experience stories as they are submitted to us. Given all the information available about HyPP, we have no reason to doubt them, but cannot prove or disprove any other than our own experiences as being 100% accurate.