Is Mickey still coughing? The answer is still yes. But we have another factor that may be playing a part. Mickey’s pedigree includes the great but tragic Quarter Horse, Impressive. Impressive was an Oklahoma bred (as was Mickey) World Champion Halter Horse.
Impressive was a much sought after stallion. Everyone wanted to reproduce the traits that had made him successful. Unfortunately, as more and more descendents came of age, so did a disease attributed to the great stallion. A genetic mutation that has been implicated in the rare but burgeoning – and sometimes fatal – muscular disorder known as hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP). This particular defect is a dominant condition, meaning that at least half of the affected horses’ offspring will be affected as well. In the words of one prominent Quarter Horse trainer, this discovery was “one of the most devastating things that has ever hit the horse industry.”
I knew all about HYPP as a quarter horse owner, all my mares were tested to be sure they did not carry this disease. I knew from Mickey’s pedigree that he was “Impressive-bred”. Many people did. We joked that Impressive’s less than stellar personality was a lot like Mickey’s. But until I posted a recent picture of Mickey, after he has gained almost two hundred pounds and joked again about how he was channeling his inner “Impressive” did anyone think about Impressive-Mickey and HYPP. No vet would have looked at Mickey (who traditionally has looked like a small thoroughbred not a bulky halter horse) and thought wow, he looks like Impressive. But Dr. Criner picked up the link. So, Mickey is being tested. He may carry one of the genes, both of the positive genes or none at all. It is possible he has the heterozygous gene (the one gene). In horses that carry only one gene, the HYPP may be dormant, sometimes not appearing until late in life. But the stress of illness, can bring the gene to forefront. It can cause paralysis and maybe causing the collapse we are seeing in his airway. It may be what has caused his droopy lip all these years and the twitching we see from time to time.
We will wait for a confirmation. We will start to build Mickey up on his work schedule. Lauren and I wanted to show him Thursday (just over the low jumps-we were ready to go) but Dr. Hildreth said no. If he is HYPP positive, we hope we can manage it with diet and medications. We are scheduling with Texas A&M Vet school, a dynamic endoscope that is done while Mickey is worked. We should be able to do this in the next couple of weeks. We will be looking for a dorsal displacement of the soft palate. If we find this, there is a surgery which is quite successful to fix it. If nothing else, I see this little paint horse making quite a vet write-up one day. A cough, with a history of a serious lung infection, allergies, a pythium diagnosis, to perhaps a HYPP diagnosis, to a potential surgery. Don’t care about all that, I just want my Mickey back.
I am pretty sure Lauren had Mickey saddled up this afternoon. We will see how he tolerates the work. In the meantime, we will make a run for finals. We might just do it.