Ugo, affectionally known as Hugo, is a 12 year old, 16.2hh gelding who was given to the rescue by his owner in November 2020. His owner had imported him to Illinois in Spring 2019. Hugo is a traditionally built Canadian, who is used to living outside 24/7. He is good for the farrier, easy to catch, and ties, loads, and bathes well. As is so typical of the breed, Hugo is friendly, intelligent, bold, curious, and confident. He crosses water, is good with dogs, and just an all-around lovely boy to be with.
Hugo's owner did everything right. She knew he had been trained to ride and drive and had been used extensively. She also had a thorough vetting done prior to purchase. However, after only a few months, Hugo began to exhibit signs of EPM; testing ensued with a result of “76% chance he had EPM.” He was treated with Marquis, Vitamin E liquid, Equioxx, and immune support supplements and, by late August 2019, the care team was reporting he was 75% better. For ongoing support, they continued Marquis and also gave Protazil.
In December 2019, a lameness evaluation was performed. This time the vet did not feel like this was EPM. However, the lameness seemed to be left stifle, based on Hugo going worse to the right on lunge. X-rays were good and the vet commented that the "hock is beautiful.” The ultrasound, however, showed mild synovial thickening in the left stifle. This was treated with Adequan and Legend and it improved well enough for Hugo and his rider to win a virtual dressage show in June 2020 with 68.75% in Introductory Level Walk-Trot, with the judge noting “Lovely, willing horse!”
Not long after the horse show, however, Hugo appeared to be struggling with lameness once again. In late July 2020, another lameness exam was performed, with the same problem with the left hind, going to the right. Fluid was - again - found in left stifle. Adequan and Legend was given and mid-August 2020 he had a steroid injection in his left stifle.
With limited improvement, however, and after having invested thousands of dollars on treatments, the owner decided she simply could not continue. Confident he'd make a lovely light riding horse, if the stifle lameness was figured out, the owner made huge attempts to sell Hugo before turning to the Society, ultimately surrendering Hugo into our care. This was an incredibly hard decision for Hugo's owner, and we applaud her decision! Our community rallied around this guy, with many offers to adopt and foster. We were able to quickly move Hugo into foster care, with a home that had forever potential.
Not long after coming to our foster home, a vet came to visit Hugo, raising several alarming concerns noting that, in her opinion, Hugo was not even pasture sound. This took all of us by complete surprise! The foster home - quite obviously - could not commit to adopting and the Society needed to make some immediate decisions. After further consultation with the vet, we decided to go ahead with a series of diagnostic tests hoping to figure out what is going on with Hugo. We hope he can become a lovely light riding horse, or at the very least be pasture sound.
We got great news during Ugo's last vet check, Jan 4, 2021. He is absolutely pasture sound, with none of the previous concerns surfacing. He has no rotation (which we were worried about) and, although his feet are a tad tender, the vet was quite pleased overall. Like too many Canadians, he is much too heavy so for now needs to lose weight and be on an exercise program that allows him to very slowly be brought back into fitness. We will then do a soundness exam and basic neuro exam to see if he can be a light riding or driving horse.
Stay tuned for more updates!