Can one lameness cause another? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 01-06-2013, 09:14 AM Thread Starter
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Question Can one lameness cause another?

First I appologize for the novel but its been a long confusing couple of months.

The beginning of Oct. my daughter and I try our this 19 yr AQHA. He rides very nicely and has a great disposition. The next day we go back to try him again in a different setting and in English tack and he is like a different horse (very resistant to bridling, more hyper, and bracing his neck at some turns). We watch him being fed and notice that he is dropping food from his mouth and turning his head as he eats. We decide not to consider him any more. 2 weeks later owner texts that they had horses teeth done and he had a swollen tooth socket. It is healed now and horse is bridling fine. We stop by with only 15 min. notice one day to check if this is true and he does. Set up a time to try him trail riding 2 days later. He does great for tacking up and down the rode but the ride is cut short due to a tack malfunction. (the only thing I notice is he did step funny a couple of times on the gravel). We have him vetted. Vet is impressed at how healthy he is for a 19 yr. old. He did go slightly lame on right back hock (1 or 2 out of 5) but during the flexion test he was hard to get to trot off right away (i.e. he took a few walking steps before starting to trot). Vet did not lunge him do to lack of space for lunging. We purchase and he comes to our barn a week later. We give him a few days to settle in then he give a couple of kids a walk around the arena and my daughter rides him for about 30 minutes with a very tiny bit of that being trotting and canter. Again he seems a lot more hyper than our first ride. After a week at the barn my daughter has her first lesson with her trainer and the horse is lame at the trot (head bobbing that gets worse when a heavier person gets on). Call out vet who finds 2 small drainage tracks and some foot soreness. Nerve blocks (ab) for the foot make horse sound. x-rays show some navicular changes so we put wedge shoes on front and give horse bute and week rest. Trainer checks on horse in a week (we are on vacation) and he seems good. We get back after 2 weeks and go to have a lesson and he is lame again. No a bit better because he is only slightly head bobbing on corners. Out comes vet, now horse doesn't block sound with same level of blocks. In fact doesn't block sound when blocked from fetlock down. Vet decides it might be in the hind end instead and flexes both hocks and right hock is reactive. Now diagonisis arthritis in right hock give us clearance to ride and options of supplements or injections. Decide to start with supplements. A week later have chiro out, she notices swelling in his suspensory though she says it feels like it may be old. The next day (friday) the horse is turned out with the other gelding for the first time. Saturday we go to ride and I notice heat and puffyness in right fetlock. I give him 1g bute and we check him for lameness which he is at the trot again. Have barn manager isolate him again. Check him the next day and the heat is gone and the tendon has a hard swelling on it but doesn't seem sore. Watch leg for a few days then call the vet to have him ultrasound it. So vet is out yesterday. Swelling feels like it is DDFT. Vet does nerve blocks first to the suspensory which doesn't help and then to the whole lower leg which also doesn't help. Ultrasound shows fluid and swelling of the inferior check ligament, but since nerve block didn't restore soundness vet thinks the lameness is coming from the hock arthritis. He clears horse for light riding (i.e. 70 lb daughter at a walk) working up slowly over the next 3 to 4 months. When asked about prognosis, he feels that if we can get arthritis under control the horse (now 20) should be sound w/t/c with the possiblities of low jumping in many months.

So here is my questions:
1)Could an acute injury to the front cause the back to get dramatically worse (i.e the horse didn't seem that arthritic 3 months ago)?
2)Is he being overly optimistic regarding the chance of future soundness and the length of time to get there?
3) given that this horse is 20 years old and was only lightly ridden last summer would it be fairer to the horse to consider semi-retirement (i.e. walking on trails with an occasional trot rather than trying to rehab him back to being able to w/t/c 3 to 5 days a week in the arena)?

Sorry again for the novel but it is so hard to explain without a lot of words.
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post #2 of 17 Old 01-06-2013, 09:26 AM
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I'm posting more for a subbing reason as I don't think I have the expertise to help. However, I will comment that your vet seems to go straight for nerve blocks surprisingly quickly; in my many horse lameness events my vet never used a nerve block.

Is your vet a specialist equine vet?

Apart from that, I can say that yes - I have seen a horse cause problems in his hips because of altered movement in his front end due to ligament damage. Four legs sharing the weight equally, one leg fails, the other three try to compensate somehow...

I feel sorry for you and your daughter, it does appear that you did all the right things but still have a lame horse :(

Get up, get going, seize the day. Enjoy the sunshine, the rain, cloudy days, snowstorms, and thunder. Getting on your horse is always worth the effort.
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post #3 of 17 Old 01-06-2013, 09:49 AM
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I will say that yes, an injury in one leg can cause overcompensation to damage an otherwise fine leg. Barbaro injured himself and they tried to save him. While the injured leg was healing, he foundered in his other hoof/hooves and that's what led to his euthanasia.

I would assume the work of semi-retirement and the work of getting him back into shape and fully rehabbing are going to start off pretty similarly, yes? I wouldn't decide now, just start him back slowly and see how well he does. You don't have to decide now that you won't ever canter him again. Don't get your hopes up too high, but there's still a good chance he'll be fine for it.
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post #4 of 17 Old 01-06-2013, 11:13 AM
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Yes, I have a horse that has happened to.

I am not at all up-to-speed on what conditions constitute nerve blocking but it does sound as if this particular vet is a bit excited to do nerve blocks.

Vets for all the very expensive knowlege they have, don't always have a 110%-spot-on answer. I have learned that throughout my life-long experience with horses. It's not their fault, sometimes they honestly can't see the "forest for the trees" because they have been taught to do things "this way" instead of think outside the box for horses with "outside the box" issues.

I learned that with my now 25 yo, diagnosed with EMS nearly seven years ago, and who might not be here today if I'd listened to the vet that diagnosed him.

I am also learning that with another metabolic horse who foundered, ended up with torn ligaments thanks a AFA certified farrier trimming him too short too fast. My leg specialist vet (whom I adore and have the very highest regard for) said this horse would now always have that "Chester" limp (think the old Gunsmoke series) because one tendon healed shorter than the other

Thanks to a wonderful wonderful member of this forum, SHE (yes testicles are not falling in good favor with me lately gave me instructions for rasping this horse's hooves in-between Trimmer visits.

It's only been ten days since I started the procedure and my horse is barely gimping. His Chester Gimp is so far in the rear view mirror, I can't see it anymore. Even my non-horse husband is jaw-dropping astounded

My point to all that is, I really think you need to seek out a different vet, a chiropractor who does acupuncture, anyone with experience in dealing with your horse's particular issues, that can look at him thru new eyes and maybe see what's really wrong.

It could be, after all of this, your horse is being trimmed wrong by everyone that touches him. He may be that one horse in a thousand, like mine, that needs special trimming to support whatever issues might be inside the hoof and leg.

Whether his issues will keep him from a higher level of whatever your daughter wants to do with him, would still be up in the air, but if he'd make a great trail horse for her and a low level show horse, she would still have the horse she picked out and got attached to

I sure hope that all made sense. I know what I want to say but sometimes the fingers don't convey things quite right

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post #5 of 17 Old 01-06-2013, 11:40 AM
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Agree to everything what was said so far. I also repeat myself, I know, but, get another opinion.
I would never believe a dramatic diagnosis from only one vet on certain issues, unless it's very obvious to me. In your case I would have doubted this vet especially, since he was the one who vetted him sound in the first place.
I said all this before in your previous threads.
I've seen a lot in my 45 years with horses, even accomplished racehorse vets diagnosing a tendon rupture , and retiring the horse, which actually was an abscess and the horse was sound and raced and won again after the abscess had popped.

Ask around in your barn, the tackshop, the feedstore, for another equine vet and get that second opinion.
Kudos for trying and do right by him tho
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Last edited by deserthorsewoman; 01-06-2013 at 11:45 AM.
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post #6 of 17 Old 01-06-2013, 11:43 AM
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Did you change farriers from his old owners? He is 19, Id expect some arthritis but at 19 you cant be tweaking the balance around too much. If he was working sound before, find out what has changed and go back. A change in how he is being trimmed/shod could absolutely be a common denominator here causing problems that are popping up. He may be moving differently and compensating.

Just because he had "navicular changes" doesn't mean he needed wedges. If he was sound before and showed drainage from abscessing, that right there would have made me fire the vet who told me to do this to my horse. Its shows his utter lack of current knowledge for the equine limb and hoof. What did the farrier say? Did he just do this without an opinion? Do some reading about wedging Navicular horses. They go up and up and up and get lamer and lamer after periods of soundness while the heels crush and the foot distorts. bad bad bad. Its a downward spiral and they (wedges) are the next to LAST option (last option being permanently nerving the limb before euthanasia) when nothing else works to get one sound.
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Last edited by Trinity3205; 01-06-2013 at 11:45 AM.
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post #7 of 17 Old 01-06-2013, 12:23 PM
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I wonder if the horse was being treated for arthritis with his old owner, they didn't say anything, the treatment lapsed because you didn't know, then the horse started getting the full untreated symptoms.
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post #8 of 17 Old 01-06-2013, 04:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the advice. I have considered a second opinion but have hesitated so far since I hate to start at the beginning again given how much I have spent on vet bills so far. Not a good reason but a human one none-the-less. His previous owners said that he never had soundness issues and he wasn't on any supplements; however, they said they had him shoed all around for the show season and that they would pull his shoes in the fall. When we first tried him at the beginning of Oct. he didn't have shoes on and his toes were a bit long and he was due for a trim. The week after we tried him the first time they had the farrier out to trim him but not shoe him. When I asked recently when they pulled his shoes this year I got a pretty vague answer :( I do think I will try to get his old farrier out for the next trim. I guess then another question is how do you know if a farrier is any good?
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post #9 of 17 Old 01-06-2013, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by mydaughtersgroom View Post
I guess then another question is how do you know if a farrier is any good?
You don't - you can do everything humanly possible from checking their credentials to have the vet give a nod of the head and they can still mess a horse really royal.

The two Backyard Brothers that are now trimming for me (because I can't do it anymore), have very little formal schooling.

What they do have is 11 years worth of street smarts (they started in their late teens), a lot of common sense and instinct, with only some seminars under their belts. So far so good but they've only been here three times.

You can get the original farrier? I'm 200% for that - even if he is pricey. Hopefully he is willing to spill his guts if the horse does have any issues but, if he isn't willing, play your talking cards right and you can wheedle it out of him, if there is something to wheedle out

You could explain your dilemma in detail, when you're eye-to-eye and coyly comment that you're asking for his help because it seems the only time this horse appeared to be sound was when he was doing the work.

Hopefully he would make a comment that could lead you into asking "what IS wrong that you know how to fix and nobody else does or can recognize (like the vet). He will tell you what he knows and that will have been a successful wheedling job if he doesn't willingly volunteer anything

And by the way, Kudos and six of the brownies Mr. WTW just baked to you, for sticking with this and trying to do things the right way:) Yes Mr. WTW. He only eats five things in this life and is so fussy about those that I stopped cooking & baking when we got married - lol lol lol lol
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Last edited by walkinthewalk; 01-06-2013 at 04:29 PM.
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post #10 of 17 Old 01-06-2013, 05:02 PM
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^^^this!!! Without the Brownies, sorry
Try to get the farrier who put shoes under and do exactly as described above.
You'll stand a good chance for the horse being sound, if not, he'd be the one pointing you. N the right direction, at least. Then, if something is still off, ask this farrier which vet he would recommend and have them both there for evaluation.
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