Softening left rein but very limited in work that I can do

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Softening left rein but very limited in work that I can do

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  • Stiffness on the left rein
  • Horse hock spavin pentosan

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    07-29-2010, 08:12 AM
Softening left rein but very limited in work that I can do

I posted in the health thread about what's going on with my boy Hugo, but to re-cap: He has been lame on and off for about a month, ruled out saddle, feet, teeth, back etc. gave him 2 weeks rest thinking muscle soreness (he'd been brought back into light work after a month paddock spell) and he came back in even worse.
Got him down to my vet, and a bunch of nerve blocks and xrays later, he's got a bone spur on a small joint within his hock, that accounts for approximately 5% of the horse's movement. The joint is so tiny that there is no margin for error, so when something goes wrong, it makes the horse rather sore! Joint fluid has all but leaked out of the joint, so now it is bone on bone thus his showing arthritic symptoms.
He is now on Pentosan injections once a week for a month, which act as anti-inflammatories and a joint guard, as well as being on joint supplements. All we can do for him is hope that the joint will now fuse, which will relieve the pain he's getting and allow him to continue a sound, functional life as a competitive dressage horse. If the joint does not fuse in the next 6 months, it will be in his best interest to be retired to a paddock ornament or light pleasure horse.

In the meantime, light work is the go, and also stimulates new bone tissue to form and help the joint fuse. So it is strictly walk and trot work on straight lines and nothing under a 20m circle for no more than one circle at a time. No cantering, no laterals other than a few steps of shallow leg yield at a time, and not bringing him up to where I had him before his spell, beginning very light collection. This has to continue for another few months yet.

Now to the point of my post. He has been very stiff to the left for some time now, and now that this injury has come up, and after consulting my vet, it is evident as to WHY he's so stiff on the left rein. The injured hock is his right hock, hence his compensating and stiffening the left side of his body to take more weight than the right. His left side is now effectively 'locked'.
Usually, with a stiff horse, I would use a lot of lateral work, transitions, changes of rein etc. But I'm stuck for solutions here as I cannot do any of these things. Transitions have to be very gradual and having him sit down on his hocks into a downwards, or push off firmly in an upward is too much pressure on the joint at this point in time.

At the moment, I am flexing him left and right for a few strides each. To the right he is lovely, I can put him anywhere and he softens to the rein immediately. To the left however, I just cannot un lock his neck. He will turn his body for an hour if I let him, rather than unlock that neck of his. Obviously, riding him in a tight turn is not going to help either of our problems! I'm at my wits end here, I've always been so heavily reliant on laterals to supple a horse, and now I can't use them!

Any ideas??
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    07-29-2010, 09:26 AM
One thing I would suggest is work on the ground .
Try standing next to him and ask him to bring his head into you , that will work the kinks of his stiff neck and slowly ask for more and more , to work on his back end ask him to disengage his back end and step underneath himself this is really good for his hip and back muscles and will help with stretching them out.

I hope he gets better !
    07-29-2010, 04:05 PM
Honestly, at this point does it matter? The only way he will truly unstiffen is to take weight on the haunch and bend his hock, which you know isn't going to happen. If it bugs you that much, ride him in a pelham and otherwise just keep your hands at the wither and focus entirely on equitation.
Rehabbing isn't fun so do what you can during your horses rest period and make yourself better. When he is feeling better, the bend will come back and until then long and low him, focusing on stretch and reach over the back with perfect equitation.
That's really all you can do and if you are seriously missing real riding, grab a few rides a week on another horse. Good luck!
    07-30-2010, 05:35 AM
Thanks Anebel, you are very right.

However, after tonight, and a conversation with my vet, Hugo will be 'chucked' out in a paddock for a few months now, can't do anything else with him. Rode tonight, and from the minute I got on he was crow hopping, threatening to rear, spinning, kicking out etc. Anything to not have to walk forward. So got off him, and he booted me a fair whack in the leg, then turned around and bit me! Vet was conveniently on his way through when I called, and had a look at him. Said there's no point trying to do anything with him now if he's that sore, and to just put him in the paddock for a few months and hope that he heals himself.

Yeah, drowing in self pity right about now.
    07-30-2010, 09:43 AM
Don't get too upset, we've all been there. If we didn't ever deal with crap, we would never really appreciate how wonderful our horses are. Hopefully Hugo will be able to pull through, most competitive dressage horses have arthritis. No one talks about how much they are managing their horses, but everyone does it. Some of these Olympic horses are getting PSGAGs/HA close to every day to help keep them sound.
Good luck!
    08-02-2010, 08:43 PM
So sorry to hear Hugo has to have so long off. Great part is he can be out and not locked in a stall for that time.
Please don't loose hope. I have to say I have been through the dang ringer with my mare and rehab for a young horse is tough tough tough.
There were times when I I wondered if I had done the right things and if I would ever get her working again.
After stifle surgery in march I am now riding her 5 days a week for 15+ minutes after longing her.
So ..... keep the chin up and do as the vet says to do.
    08-03-2010, 10:12 AM
Am curious.

Did you decide to not canter him or did this advice come from the vet?
    08-03-2010, 07:30 PM
It has come from a vet spyder
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    08-04-2010, 01:02 AM
Originally Posted by Kayty    
It has come from a vet spyder
Posted via Mobile Device


My grey had spavins in both hocks and was given similar advice except they did not limit the canter. The canter is actually an easier gait for the horse than the trot and while I was waiting for his bones to fuse I did 80% canter. Was ready to go in about 6 months but like all hock problems it bothered him all his life,

It got so I ONLY warmed up in canter and from there went to trot.
    08-04-2010, 01:08 AM
Really?? Hmmm yeah vet said not to push him past pain so no buting etc. to work him through it, and no tight circles, cantering etc. for a few months or until he is working happily and pain free. Obviously I wouldn't canter him at the moment anyway, if he's having problems walking. A friend's horse had spavins as well a few years ago, and the same vet said to bute him and work him through it to help it fuse. When I mentioned this to him he said Hugo's was a 'different' case of spavin and because it is on such a fine joint, any more disruption to it and the entire joint could be destroyed - hence why they can't surgically remove the spur.

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