Daughter's Mare Has Mysterious Lameness

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Daughter's Mare Has Mysterious Lameness

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    10-24-2011, 04:42 AM
Daughter's Mare Has Mysterious Lameness

My daughter brought in her 4yo QH mare from pasture Sunday evening and she was very lame. She didn't want to put weight on her front right leg. She was actually holding it forward and up to keep weight off it and she had rotated all her weight to the left side of her body.

There is no swelling, trauma or heat anywhere in her leg. Our farrier stopped by and checked for bruises or punctures in her hoof and found none. All 4 shoes were secure as well. He flexed and held her leg in a couple positions and nothing made it worse or better.

So she is on stall rest and will start anti-inflammatories Monday morning. We have Dr. Woodford coming out Tuesday to look her over. Dr. Woodford is a vet that also does incredible chiro and acupuncture work on horses. So hopefully we can figure out whats wrong with her.

My daughter and her horse are scheduled to compete in their 4th ACTHA CTC on the 29th which is the last ride of the series where they are leading Junior Riders in points. My daughter is very concerned for her horse and is hopefully and praying she is sound to compete this weekend.
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    10-24-2011, 04:53 AM
Honey very uncomfortable.

    10-24-2011, 08:41 AM
Super Moderator
Sounds more like a hoof abscess than anything else. I would not give anti inflammatories. They will slow down its coming to a head and breaking. I personally prefer that they break on the coronet and do not like digging big holes in their soles to find them.

You can usually 'feel' an abscess by putting your hand around the horse's front feet very early in the morning. They should be 'cold' to the touch at that time. If there is an abscess, that hoof will feel warmer to the touch than the other one.

If the horse was shod within a couple of weeks of going lame, you could have a 'hot nail'. If you think there is a chance of a hot nail, have the shoe pulled and that nail will come out wet. You will not find puss but will find a blackish liquid. Soaking in Epsom Salts and hot water will draw it out. You can replace the shoe with that nail left out when it is dry and no longer draining.

Sometimes you can x-ray and see an abscess but not always. The ones you cannot see in x-rays usually come out at the coronet a week later -- longer if you give Bute or similar drug.
    10-24-2011, 08:48 AM
The farrier felt no palpatations. He cleaned and trimmed the sole and frog looking for punctures and also checked for bruises and he couldn't see anything nor did she react to anything.

She was shod 6 weeks ago.

We think maybe it's in her elbow, but it's hard to tell with her muscling if it's swollen or not. But she doesn't respond worse or better to flexion tests.
    10-24-2011, 12:54 PM
Super Moderator
It can still be a hoof abscess. I have seen them come out when 3 Vets could not find them. It is probably not a hot nail if it has been 6 weeks. Best way to tell if it is the hoof would be with nerve blocks. If you know what her normal temperature is, you can also usually see a small rise in temp or a rise in white blood cell counts from even a tiny infection. It can be a tiny abscess because even a very small one causes great pain in an enclosed environment like a hoof.

I just recently had a friend spend over $3000.00 in California with a horse that was slightly off. They did x-rays and ran dozens of tests because this horse has a bad thyroid and had slightly foundered 2 years ago. She is on thyroid meds all of the time now. They isolated it to her hoof with nerve blocks, but she had no strong pulse or any other symptoms. I kept saying I thought it was an abscess after she blocked out. She called me last week to say a tiny abscess broke out on her coronet and she was finally sound. She poured money onto her mare for 2 months. The medication she gave her made it take so much longer because she did not want her mare to hurt.
    10-24-2011, 05:37 PM
Originally Posted by Cherie    
I personally prefer that they break on the coronet and do not like digging big holes in their soles to find them.
Why, so it can fester in the foot for 10 days to 2 weeks while getting much larger and compromising the foot more. When you get a blood blister do you leave it to do it's own thing, or drain it to get relief?

Gravity tends to pull things "down", popping at the coronet doesn't allow for much drainage.

Abcesses shouldn't be opened in the sole either, but the sole/wall junction. This allows for near instant relief as well as better drainage. If there are concerns about crud getting packed into the void after draining/treatment, then a shoe can be tacked on and easily cover the void packed w/ cotton and stockholm tar. (cotton and tar alone is usually fine)

Many times an abcess can be draind,treated, and the horse shod and go right back to work w/ no ill effects.
    10-24-2011, 05:39 PM
Originally Posted by Brookside Stables    
Our farrier stopped by and checked for bruises or punctures in her hoof and found none.
Did he use hoof testers?
    10-24-2011, 10:43 PM
I vote abcess as well. These can be notorious -- just one day the horse shows up lame and no one can figure out why, then "poof!" the abcess exits and the horse is "magically" sound again.

Check her whole leg again, starting at the shoulder and firmly apply pressure all the way down. If no reaction, then use your fingers to apply more specific pressure all the way down and around. I'll bet there won't be any reaction. At the hoof, press firmly with your thumb around the coronet band. Feel the entire hoof for localized heat. Apply firm localized pressure on all areas of the sole and frog. Hopefully you will find a sensitive area. You may not have enough strength in your fingers to do this -- hence the hoof testers. You can also try tapping with the back of the hoof pick, but this is not as good to pinpoint a specific area. It may tell you for sure if the pain is in the hoof or not though.

I would also eliminate the anti-inflammatories until you know what the problem is. I never give meds unless I know what I'm giving them for. You can soak the foot in epsom salts. If there is an abcess, this might help bring it out, softening the hoof. If there isn't, it won't do any harm.
    10-24-2011, 11:15 PM
Super Moderator
It is natural for an abscess to migrate up and not down. I have tried it both ways. I will never again let a Vet or a farrier try to relieve an abscess out the bottom unless there is a VERY PLAIN place where it is located and a very strong reaction to hoof testers. I have had one horse crippled by a Vet and had 2 more that ended up laid up for months when I let farriers (one with a Vet) that injured my horses' hoof almost beyond repair. One was dug out by the farrier's Vet (that he said he would pay for it since he did it) and I ended up with a necrotic spot on the horse's coffin bone and had to have bone infection surgically removed. The horse (a really outstanding show horse at the time) was off for more than a year. It all started with an abscess that the Vet and farrier insisted they needed to dig out the bottom.

Most horses with small abscesses that migrate up to the coronet are sound with no special shoes or soaking right after they drain. They do not return and need multiple treatments.
    10-25-2011, 08:04 AM
Sounds like abcess to me also, and if there is no other obvious sign of lameness give her a day or two with no meds to see if it blows. Curious to know if hoof testers were used?
I agree with Cherie that we have had less headaches with soundness issues when an abcess blows out the coronet (almost immediately sound) then the ones who migrate out the sole as they tend to need more aftercare, and sometimes the horses take longer to recover.
And we no longer allow a farrier unrestricted paring when searching for an abcess, by our vets order. If the farrier cleans up the foot, sees a dark area that is suspect, we poultice, and wait for the abcess to drain..

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