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[RC] Equitrol - a cautionary tale, vets please read - Deanna German

Hi all -

A little while back, I asked for some input on the feed-through fly
eliminating supplement called Equitrol. (Active ingredient is Rabon.) I am
here to report my personal experience.

Starting in late-May I was having some behavioral problems with my horse to
the point that I was dreading riding. My mare has always been an *exciting*
horse to ride, being highly reactive and with a big motor, but the Equitrol
put her over the edge. Before Equitrol, I could deal with her "lane shift"
spooks and "tap on the brakes" spooks at any gait. When she was overly
excited, like before the start of a ride or when a horse was leaving her, I
could always get her calmed down with some focused riding. (Those dressage
lessons helped!)

A month after being put on Equitrol, she was nearly uncontrollable at a
local fun show where stepped on my foot and broke a toe. (This from a horse
with normally excellent ground manners -- she ground ties and I can normally
crawl around under her anytime.) When mounted, she threatened to buck and
rear. I just couldn't get her calmed down.

A month and a half after being put on Equitrol, she was spooking violently
and unpredictably at leaf flutters and small critter sounds (things she'd
never spooked at before). I couldn't trot and certainly couldn't canter.
She'd spook violently at a walk. She developed cutting horse moves. She'd
stop dead and back up 10 paces. She do the stop, drop (splay footed spook
that left my butt up out of the saddle), spin and run spook. I was coming
off with great regularity or doing some pretty athletic things to stay in
the saddle.

2 months after being put on Equitrol, I did a 25 mile ride -- she's normally
all business at rides, very forward, very enjoyable to ride. This one was
just a progression of the troubles I'd been having in conditioning rides.
She was overly excited, spooky, revving very high and I just couldn't get
her calmed and moving forward. She beat the snot outta me for 25 miles. This
was a 9YO horse with a combined 700+ miles, endurance, LD and CTR most of
them uneventful.

It occured to me that one big change was the addition of Equitrol to her
feed this year. I did some internet research. Heightened startle response.
Panic attacks. Extreme lethargy. (At times, my horse would seem very sleepy,
then suddenly "wake up" and spook violently.)

I immediately took her off the Equitrol. Two weeks later, we were back to
lane shift spooks. Four weeks later, I was trotting and cantering
confidently again. It's getting better by the week.

Farnam says that Equitrol (Rabon) is safe when fed as directed. They have
some pretty specific directions regarding feeding by weight which I know
were not adhered to at my boarding barn. (I seriously doubt that anyone but
the most anal measurer could adhere to their dosing guidlines.) I know my
mare was getting too much. (She's one of the smallest horses in the barn at
900 lbs.) Rabon is an ingredient in many fly-blocks too.

The take home message is that flies are annoying, but for some horses at
least, Equitrol (Rabon) is far worse.

I hope that this post saves someone from the experience that I had.




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