Dr. Carter was called out and after examining Tucker’s diet and body condition, the decision was made to place Tucker on Vitamin E. Without completing any further testing, his muscle stiffness and change in energy level could be contributed to mild symptoms of PSSM (Polysaccharide storage myopathy). A watchful eye would be placed on Tucker to wait and see if he had a positive response to his diet change.
For a while, this seemed to do the trick for Tucker. His energy level still seemed a little off and so did his weight, but Tracey felt it may just be Tucker getting older.
In February 2018 came the definitive answer and turning point for Tucker. He started to go down during a ride and in an effort to catch his balance, he bolted up. His sharp and unexpected movement sent Tracey tumbling. Tracey and her trainer immediately knew this was not Tucker - he was hurting; something was really wrong. Tracey states, “The silver lining of my fall, is that it opened our eyes to the need for further investigation as to what was going on with Tucker.”
Dr. Carter was called to come out, and he decided to perform a muscle biopsy. Dr. Carter revealed, “When you know a horse’s diet, and see the fast onset muscle atrophy that Tucker was experiencing, further testing is critical.”
Testing revealed Myofibrillar myopathy, which is a form of exercise intolerance similar to PSSM. Dr. Carter explains, “When horse owners think of neuromuscular, they automatically think of PSSM, however there are many other conditions out there and they can be managed with proper diet and exercise.” He also explains, “Often, horses with neuromuscular diseases deal with them their whole life - it goes unnoticed until they hit a breaking point. Tucker finally reached this breaking point.”
Now, Tracey, who was dealing with her own injuries from the fall, would have to nurse herself and Tucker back to health. Tracey states: “Word of advice, do not trust Dr. Google - don’t even go down that dark path and start reading.” She was so upset and scared after reading things that may not even apply to her horse!
Dr. Carter assessed Tucker’s situation and developed a plan specific for his needs and diagnosis. He assured Tracey that this was manageable.