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RU Pardner, RU Sebastian, RU Shivna, & RU Prodigal Son with a friend on the western plains
Photos by Victoria Hanke.


Question/Problem:

    A Percheron/Arabian cross yearling suddenly looses ability to balance, and can barely stand.  X-Rays reveal slight pinching of the nerves in the spinal cord.  He is diagnosed as “growing too fast”, and although surgery is a possibility, the recommendation is to wait and see if he outgrows the problem.  He was being fed what his owners understood be a good balance feed because of its low carbohydrate content.

Answer:

    From the description of symptoms it sounds like your yearling developed Wobblers Syndrome.  Wobblers is a manifestation of developmental orthopedic disease and, like many other developmental diseases, it can be partially nutritional but also has a genetic and trauma component. Some have advocated severe feeding restrictions for young wobblers but the clinical evidence that it helps is very limited. The fact that it was sudden onset would lead me to think that there was a traumatic component to his problem.

   The draft crosses do grow rapidly, (ours average 2 lbs a day throughout the time we have them!), but as long as their mineral needs are met we have had very few problems with growth abnormalities. I do admit however, that the few problems we have seen, (flexure deformities, epiphysitis, one case of Osteochondrosis early on), were with the Percheron/Thoroughbred crosses, as opposed to Belgian/QH crosses who seem to be able to eat just about anything and do well.

    Unfortunately Complete Advantage, (which is what I assume you were feeding when you said "Advantage"), is not balanced for growth- note that the labels says it is for breeding, (ie: adult!), and performance horses.  Just restriction of calories, (or carbohydrates, or protein) is not the answer for the young, rapidly growing horse.  For information on my recommendations for feeding a young draft/warm-blood cross please visit the previous post.







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