Horse spinal cord injury

I am writing because I have a male, yearling, Appaloosa named Eli. Approximately four weeks ago he attempted to jump a fence and hit the top with his forelegs, resulting in a somersault landing on his head and back.I am writing because I have a male, yearling, Appaloosa named Eli. Approximately four weeks ago he attempted to jump a fence and hit the top with his forelegs, resulting in a somersault landing on his head and back.

Story originally posted by: Michael Lowder, DVM, MS Univ. of GA School of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Lowder:

I am writing because I have a male, yearling, Appaloosa named Eli. Approximately four weeks ago he attempted to jump a fence and hit the top with his forelegs, resulting in a somersault landing on his head and back. He promptly got up and resumed cantering around the pasture. The following morning he was reluctant to put his head down to feed. When I arrived home from work in the evening, Eli was lying on his side in the shed.

I thought at first that he was cast and attempted to pull him to his feet. I soon realized that there was something more serious wrong and called the vet. The vet gave him a course of anti-inflammatories and several shots of DMSO. This seemed to make Eli more comfortable. The vet advised us to keep Eli on his chest in order to help him eat and drink. We did this for almost two weeks.

During that time there was one period where Eli’s legs became cold and stiff, but when we rubbed them with absorbine and covered him with a blanket, he began moving them again. We were noticing skin breakdown on his elbows and hips and were going to put him down. He had been down for a little over two weeks.

Then we heard about a horse chiropractor in the area. He came and found that several of Eli’s vertebrae on his neck were out of alignment and adjusted them. The next day Eli began using his tail to swat flies and also had sensitivity in his skin. The chiropractor recommended that Eli lie flat on his side, and be rolled over several times to allow the spine to heal.

We did this for almost a week, but the skin breakdown was starting to occur quite badly. We put Eli up in a sling and he is able to put weight on all four feet, but tires quickly. We are wondering if we should continue on, or if you have any advice for us. Eli is eating, drinking, peeing and pooing. He seems alert and happy. He is lifting his head to normal height and neighs when he hears us. His skin is clearing up and he is putting on some weight.

If you have any help to offer at all, please email me back. Eli was down for a total of 23 days.

Sheena

Sheena,

The prognosis for recover is very poor. The only way you are going to know anything is to have some x-rays taken and maybe even a contrast study to confirm any lesion. If you have the time and the horse is not suffering then give him some more time but if the ‘bed’ sores get bad and the heat becomes a problems then you may have to think about another option.

Good Luck,
Dr. Lowder

The author cannot be responsible if this information is misunderstood or misconstrued because it has been taken out of context. The concepts and techniques discussed in this answer are meant for experienced horsemen. Because of the nature of electronically transferred information, the integrity or security of this message cannot be guaranteed. No valid patient client relationship is implied or inferred and always consult with you local veterinarian.