Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Who cares about her balance, she still has a uterus!

I want to say that this is a really nice mare, a mare that I would normally say probably is a breeding quality mare. I like her bloodlines, she has a lovely head, and from what I can see of her body, she's probably pretty nicely put together.

Except...she's got EPM, which is why she's for sale for the bargain-basement price of $250.

For those of you fortunate enough not to have encountered EPM in horses, let me fill you in. EPM stands for equine protozoal myeloencephalitis. This is a disease caused by a horse eating hay or grass that contains fecal matter infected with a parasite. Once inside the horse, the parasite latches on to the horse's central nervous system and starts reproducing at the rate of a typical member of the Spears family. The result is a wide variety of symptoms including severe neurological issues - stumbling, falling, literally losing all balance and bodily control and keeling over. It is a horrible disease that renders beautiful horses valueless and unrideable, and it is extremely hard to control. Treatment is expensive and far from a sure thing - every horse responds differently. There are horses who have the disease but never show a single symptom, and others that have to be put to sleep almost immediately upon acquiring it because their symptoms are so severe.

EPM sucks. I would rather a horse of mine have nearly anything else go wrong, other than EPM. I think that sentiment is true for just about anybody who has been through it.

Now, the original ad is correct about some things - EPM isn't contagious to other horses. The mare won't pass it to her baby. My concern is that the disease is incredibly unpredictable. Even if the mare is asymptomatic currently, I've seen these horses "crash" very suddenly. Why would you risk having a baby inside of, or next to, a mare that may suddenly worsen and start falling? What if she has to be put to sleep shortly after foaling? Why risk having an orphan? It just does not make sense. She is a nice mare, but there are many nice mares out there that don't have EPM. Breeding this mare is not a good idea.

(I also question the wisdom of the assurance that she'd be a GREAT broodmare for somebody just starting out, right next to the note that she's aggressive for 1-2 weeks after, judgment fail?)