Very high up on the list of disorders you'd like to avoid experiencing in your barn is the equine genetic trait known as "HYPP", short for Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis. It is a muscle disorder found in certain Quarter horses and related breeds, and should be a concern, particularly if you don't know the origin or bloodlines of your horse and are concerned by symptoms, or if you have confirmed diagnosis that your horse carries the trait.
Some horses may never show symptoms but it is important to know the signs and know what to do. The best thing to do, of course, is to discuss your horse's health with your veterinarian and make note of any unusual behavior or muscle twitching.
But what's a twitch and what's a Twitch? Horses have that amazing ability to twitch their muscles involuntarily; some horse owners are alarmed when they do that.
The American Quarter Horse Association has put together a guide to help you sort through the myths and realities of HYPP and how to manage the condition if your horse is found to be affected.
According to the AQHA, the most-common symptoms of HYPP include muscle tremors, weakness, muscle cramping, yawning, depression, an inability to relax the muscles, sweating, prolapse of the third eyelid, noisy breathing and/or abnormal sounds or whinnies.
HYPP cases usually start with muscle weakness and prolapse of the third eyelid, sweating and minor tremors most commonly in the flank, neck and shoulders.
More severe attacks can involve severe weakness, high heart and respitory rate, staggering, dog sitting and collapse. In its most extreme form, HYPP can lead to collapse and death, usually from a heart attack or respiratory failure.
If you're not concerned about HYPP for your horse, perhaps you know someone who could use this information. If so, please forward the link to him or her so that this information can help the horses who might need it.
Thanks to the AQHA for compiling this report and making it available. Click here to go to the download page.