Not So Impressive
On the morning of July 19th, Jenny was enjoying a ride on her 17 year old quarter horse mare Dottie. The pare loped leisurely around short side of the arena, when suddenly, Dottie’s head dropped and she seemed to suck back in an effort to prevent herself from falling. Within moments both jenny and Dotty crashed to the ground. Described by witnesses as “the worst crash they’d ever seen”, Jenny was rushed to the emergency room with her shoulder fractured in two places (Ruldolph, JA). While most horse people will agree, accidents do occur, something seemed different about this particular incident. What actually went wrong? For weeks following after, Dottie still seemed off in her behavior. Some days she would be normal, but on others she would lose her appetite and seemed to struggle to stay on her feet. Even after being examined by several veterinarians who passed the mares strange behavior as episodes of colic, Dottie’s condition fail to improve. Finally a local vet suggested testing for a disease called Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis. Dottie’s results came back positive. But what is HYPP exactly? In short, it is a genetic disease found in quarter horses that affects the sodium channels. These sodium channels are pores in the muscles and when affected by the disease, do not seal properly causing potassium levels in the blood to be high. This causes the muscles to contract involuntarily (Tufts). The results can be anywhere from mild ripples, to full muscular paralyses anywhere in the body. HYPP is a disease that traces back to a genetic mutation that traces back to the champion quarter horse stallion Impressive. In the average equine, the sodium channels are used to regulate the potassium level within the muscle cells and the sodium content in the bloodstream. Because of the imbalance between these two electrolytes, an electrical charge is created. When the sodium channels open, potassium is released into the blood...
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