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This is a discussion on arthritis?? within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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    12-02-2011, 06:52 AM

Monty's 16 years old and he's been an eventing horse for years. Started at an unknown age, and age 4 to age 10 he competed up to 3'4" or thereabouts but has jumped 4'. We're not 100% on his life from 10-14 but at 14 he was rescued by his previous owner in a horribly emaciated condition and has been in and out of work since. He was leased to a girl who competed on him for a time but ran into troubles with him and neglected him. Previous owner took him back from the lease girl and brought him back up to weight but didn't have time to have him in work as well as her ponies (she has 3 she rides and more that she shows and breeds) so she sold him to me. He IS NOT A THOROUGHBRED or any racing breed so he never raced once in his life.

ANYWAY. Since I've had him he's mostly moved free and forward and is enthusiastic about jumping, but in the past week or two he's been stiff in the hindquarter, and he actually refused a few times out on cross-country last week. He's evidently hurting somewhere, he's not the kind of horse that is lazy for the sake of it.

Saddle fit is good and I've checked his muscles and can't find any soreness but I'm still going to get a chiro to look at him. No change of bit or bridle, I did start feeding him because he was dropping weight but feed usually makes him MORE forward. Teeth are due in a couple of months' time but he's still accepting the bit and working into the contact... just not really wanting to come through from behind.

Soooo my question is, do I need to get him checked for arthritis? He's not limping or gimping at all, just seems stiff. Would it be cheaper to just start management and see if he improves?

I don't want my boy to be uncomfortable but I want to compete in 2012 and it's so frustrating because now that I finally feel ready he looks and feels off... I jump and want to get into eventing but at the moment it's not fair on him to expect him to jump when he's moving stiff even without any weight on his back.

Oh! I forgot. He leans on me HORRIBLY when I'm trimming or picking out his hind hooves, and he's a gentleman with his fronts. IME a horse that leans for behavioural reasons will lean on all four legs. He has beautiful manners and I can move him with the flick of a finger so it's not lack of respect.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this, just wondering how long he's likely to stay sound for competition if I can get him comfortable again.

It sucks because I can't afford three horses and my young horse is too young to ride so if I have to retire him I'm in a bit of a bind. Monty is with me for life even if it means I can't ride for a few years...
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    12-02-2011, 09:09 AM
Huey is 17 and is a retired GP show jumper. He's in good condition, but yes, he definitely gets a little stiff, and it shows up more in his hind legs than his front ones (although his front ones can get stiff too). He is very good about picking up all of his feet upon request (actually, he knows the program, and usually is picking up his foot before I get there) but he leans with the back feet and does not pick them up very far from the ground. Also, he's usually stocked up in his hind ankles after a night in his stall.

I think it's a very good idea to get him checked out, especially if he's losing weight. Huey is stiff and a little arthriticky, but he's not usually in *pain*, so we deal with his issues by giving him a good senior-horse joint supplement and making sure he gets plenty of turnout and gets warmed up for a nice long time before we do anything vigorous. If he was hurting, he'd be getting bute, not just the joint supplement.

I would also add that my vet said he shouldn't be jumped > 1 foot because then he would probably wind up in pain, so we don't do that. He still wants to jump anyway. :) If you want to do eventing, you'll want to get this issue thoroughly checked out, maybe get some scans so you can make an informed decision about the jumping.
    12-02-2011, 11:17 PM
Yes, I would have him checked out.

I think he developed arthritis because he was jumped so early his life. The horse's joints in their legs don't fully close until they are about 5 or 6, rarely 4. If they undertake hard training, such as racing and jumping, they are at a high risk of future leg stress, such as arthritis.
    12-02-2011, 11:55 PM
All horses get arthritis. Just depends when.

Your best bet is to get the vet out, do some flexion tests to isolate where the issue is and then investigate. The fast onset makes me believe it may be something more accute than arthritis... However it is still a possibility.

Be prepared to spend some money on diagnostics and X-rays.. but knowing just what is going on is going to allow you to treat and manage whatever it is far more effectively than just shooting in the dark. Besides most "general" treatments like Adequan IM, Legend IV and Tildren are all quite expensive anyways.

Good luck!
princess warrior likes this.
    12-03-2011, 05:59 AM
Yeah hence getting the chiro out first. A full workup including x-rays etc can get very expensive... Mum's horse isn't sound and she was quoted $1000 for a full lameness workup. We just don't have that much money. Yet a friend of mine went to a different vet and paid less than half that for x-rays, nerve blocks AND an injection, so I will look at finding out who that vet was.

I'm thinking it's hock, stifle or hip as he is fine in his fetlocks. Mum says he was sore yesterday morning, moving well in the evening, but he's stiff again today.

I just feel like it'll be cheaper to try different options of treatment rather than spending all that money on JUST a diagnosis. Here in Australia we use a drug called Pentosan which is just brilliant, about $40/injection, usually in a course of four shots every 1-3 months (some horses can go longer) and can be used in conjunction with hyaluronic acid - one round of shots will be enough to tell me if it's going to work or not. A lot of people use celery seeds to manage and prevent arthritic pain so that's another option to try. And of course the chiro.

I don't know... I guess I'd just rather waste money trying different treatments than spend a huge amount of money JUST to find out what's going on, with no guarantees that the vet will pick up what's wrong. My friend who had the full lameness workup? They still don't know what was wrong with the horse. X-rays were clean, nothing wrong with them at all, and nerve blocks isolated the cause of the pain to the hoof. An injection to the coffin joint fixed her horse's lameness completely. They have no guarantees that he'll STAY sound.

I don't know about you but I wouldn't want to spend that much money just to find out that you still don't know what the hell is wrong. I'd rather spend that much money on trying different ways to solve the problem - assuming, of course, that those different ways won't harm the horse. That's the beauty of Pentosan - if the horse isn't arthritic it won't do anything, either beneficial or otherwise.
    12-03-2011, 07:55 AM
Hi blue eyed pony

I would seriously try acupuncture. Fixes not only soreness but internal and a wide stream of horse problems including arthritis very effectivly. Had it done with my horse and was amazing results.
    12-03-2011, 08:15 AM
I actually know an equine bodyworker who does acupuncture but she is very expensive. I used to have another number for an equine acupuncturist who is very cheap and who has seen Monty and treated him before, but with limited success due to circumstances - but do you think I can find it??

Lol anyway I will look into it. Chiro first I think, then acupuncture, to rule out problems with muscles and energy flow, and then if it's still not sorted, arthritis meds and celery seeds. Actually I might do the celery seeds thing anyway as a preventative... he is getting on a bit, for a horse started as young as he evidently was, and worked so hard. There aren't many eventers around that are much older than about 16-17 that began their careers at four.
    12-03-2011, 08:21 AM
What does she charge for the acupuncture where you are?
The energy flow if were talking the same thing here from my understanding is to clear the meridian in which would be more effective with acupuncture wouldn't it? Whats your views
    12-03-2011, 09:00 AM
Well my mother had her to the pali QH and it was $150 for a hoof trim and acupuncture, and the hoof trim is $50 so that would make it $100 for acupuncture. She used to be cheaper but evidently she has been able to put her prices up due to higher demand. The other one is only $30 and did all the same things, but Monty was far too stressed for it to work - we had to do it in a stable as it was pouring with rain, and Monty's severely claustrophobic.

I don't know a huge amount about acupuncture but basically from talking to the two ladies we have used I get the impression that pain and stiffness can be a symptom of a blocked meridian somewhere. Especially if it's recurring pain that can be fixed by chiro or bowen work, but keeps coming back. But if the energy isn't flowing properly then the horse's body can't repair and prevent problems as effectively and that's when you run into issues.

He has been a bit sore on and off since I got him in February, he had a fall in the truck on the way here. Been seen by a chiro and an acupuncturist and got it all sorted, then he was sore again for a few days, then fine before we had time to have him seen to, and now he's sore again. He's the most sound and comfortable in winter, which makes me question my own theory about arthritis... AND he moves the easiest in the evening. And apparently early morning but I'm never up that early.

So I have no idea what's happening there. Perhaps it's the number of flies, irritating him and then causing him to tense up, aggrivating muscles that are already suffering a low-grade soreness? Goodness knows. All I want is for him to be happy and comfortable.
    12-03-2011, 03:14 PM
So you don't want to waste money on getting a diagnosis.... and to not waste money you're going to get a chiro out?? Any chiro worth their salt will ask for X-rays and recommend veterinary work for arthritic issues prior to working on a horse....

But to each their own... I don't like taking a head-in-the-sand, shooting-in-the-dark approach to my horses' soundness because I have wasted a lot of money with those approaches in the past. Based on my past experience, I get the vet out, do diagnostics and then determine a prognosis and course of treatment, or whether the horse needs a new career.... My $0.02 for the cost of your internet connection...
princess warrior likes this.

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