fake limping? not sure. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 06-04-2011, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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fake limping? not sure.

Last week I went out to the farm and found Sour limping slightly on her right fore. I brought her in and checked all of her legs, from wither to toe, loins, hips, everything. I didn't feel any heat at all, and nothing abnormal with her feet, but she was definately limping. Since it wasn't too bad, I didn't call the vet or anything, but went ahead and hosed down each of her legs for a good 15 minutes, rubbed some muscle relaxer in, cleaned out her feet really well, and put her back in the pen. T

he next day I came out and she appeared to be fine, so I walked her around a bit for exercise then returned her. Day after that she was still fine, so I trotted her in the round pen for fifteen minutes, cooled her out, then let her graze.

I came back the next day, and she was limping severely. At first I freaked out, thinking I'd caused more injury, and brought her in quickly. I did a quick inspection and still saw nothing wrong. Puzzled, I stood there for a minute then noticed something. Today she was limping on her left fore. I was like 'okay...weird?' but went ahead and gave her some muscle relaxer and hosed her down. When I went to turn her back out though, as soon as I let her loose- she loped away from me, no problem at all!

yesterday, same thing, except this time she wasn't limping at all while I was watching from my car. As soon as she saw me though, she starts limping and grunting like she's in severe pain. On the right fore. I'm not so sure that she's hurt though. AGAIN I brought her and and checked her, this time feeling her back, neck, and stretching all of her legs. She didn't seem to be in any pain whatsover.

Today, I brought her out and she didn't limp at all and I lunged her for a few minutes at a walk and trot. As soon as I started setting up cavalettis though, she started limping.

Now I'm not one to think horses are smarter than they are, but I've heard of horses who fake limping just to get out of work. I don't want to hurt her though! I can't really afford vet fees right now unless I'm sure she's in pain, either. I had the BO check her today too, and they didnt see anything wrong (although she wasnt really cooperative so they didn't get a full inspection done) what do you guys think? I've heard controversial things about fake limping. That its not possible for an animal to think that way, and that 'ofcourse they can!'

I just don't want to hurt her. What do you guys think I should do? Wait it out and keep her resting, or continue working?

crazy horse.

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post #2 of 14 Old 06-04-2011, 07:49 PM
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Just to let you know horses don't fake. That is not how horses think. Its obvious she is sore somewhere.
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post #3 of 14 Old 06-04-2011, 07:55 PM
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Honestly, call the vet. I wouldn't continue working her at all especially since you are stating that the limping has become worse.
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post #4 of 14 Old 06-04-2011, 08:00 PM
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While it does seem like horses plan ahead & they do in some instances (like, 'if I buck she'll stop riding') those are learned responses.
Faking a limp would require a series of more complex thought processes which I doubt horses can do.
We had a horse that would be intermittently dead lame, then not a few minutes later, he was fixed up with one chiropractor visit (pinched nerve in neck).
I'm sorry your horse is hurting. I suggest you keep looking for a physical problem.
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post #5 of 14 Old 06-04-2011, 08:04 PM
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I know people say that horses aren't smart enough(or rational enough) to fake limping but i swear my old gelding would do it when i was working him regularly. He would be in the pasture 100% sound running around doing his normal thing(i would watch from the house) and i would go out with the lead rope and he would start limping like he had a broken leg. I'd check up and down and find nothing wrong, the first few times i didn't ride him, but after a few times i decided to tack him up anyway and go figure, no limping when i rode him lol. It's really hard to say if you horse is really injured or not, but i can tell you that my gelding was absolutely 100% faking it! After i started riding him even tho he was "lame" and he wasn't getting out of work he was never "lame" another day in his life, i still have him too, 35+ years old and still totally sound

ETA: I'm not saying you shouldn't get your horse checked, i'm just telling you my experience. I also had a chiropractor come out and give him an adjustment just in case, but he said that all was fine with him

Last edited by Rachel1786; 06-04-2011 at 08:08 PM.
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post #6 of 14 Old 06-04-2011, 08:50 PM Thread Starter
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yeah, its just so hard to tell. I swear I"ve checked every inch of her body atleast twice, but I dont feel ANY fluid, lumps, swelling, or heat, and she doesn't seem sensative during carrot stretching, leg stretches, or anything. I did a lameness test on her earlier, having the trainer, a friend, and the BO watch her as I did a lap in each direction at a walk, trot, and canter today. She didn't limp at all.

I agree. The faking it just didn't sound right to me. She's a very smart horse and she loves to try and get out of work, but I don't see how she could associate limping with not working, unless she WAS hurting on that first day, saw that she got the royal treatment, and tried it again. Still, I'm skeptical. I moved her into a pen by herself so she isn't exercising (she tends to play very rough with the other horses. she is NOT happy about me moving her.) It just seemed so weird that she keeps switching legs. I had her spine checked a month or so ago just out of curiousity about some scar-like white spots along it, and it was in great condition, but maybe thats bothering her?

Is there any way to check that before I bring a vet or chiro out? I really can't afford it unless necessary. What I'll probably do is keep her on rest and hosing off/muscle relaxer for a week or so and observe her. If in four or five days she starts limping consistently, worse, or seems to be in pain- I'll call them out.

When I went to feed her earlier today she was limping as I approached, but when one of the workers came to feed everyone she immediately stopped limping and trotted over to her feed bin. I just can't figure this out! D:

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post #7 of 14 Old 06-04-2011, 09:21 PM
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One gelding I know came up semi-lame on and off. Some days he was fine, others obviously very lame. Brought the vet out after a week or two of being confused and seeing if it was bruising or temporary. Went out to the field to catch him - he was galloping full-tilt all around the field by himself. Nothing was stopping him - not treats, not grain, hay.. nothing. He galloped around for the sheer joy of running for 10 minutes straight, then came up to me and dropped his nose in the halter.
He was slightly ouchy at the walk, and lame at the trot. Vet checked him over - torn suspensory. On and off lameness, and galloped around for the sheer joy of running.
Don't let on and off lameness fool you. I myself have knee problems - some days are better (less painful) than others. I'd assume it can be the same way for other species, too.
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post #8 of 14 Old 06-04-2011, 09:41 PM
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Horses don't fake things like that. Animals do not think like humans nor use human emotions, its the humans who think their animals have human emotions. Horses are flight animals, faking injury can get them killed by predators.
She is hurting somewhere. Just because you or the BO can't find the problem, doesn't mean there isn't one. Get a vet out and find out where she is hurting. I would not do any forced exercise with her until you find out the problem
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post #9 of 14 Old 06-04-2011, 11:55 PM
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It's also possible she has an injury in her neck that is affecting the nerves running to her fore limbs, so I would have a good equine vet check her out.

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post #10 of 14 Old 06-05-2011, 02:09 PM
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i am of the belief that horses don't fake.

inconsistent lameness could be a sign of a tear in the high suspensory ligament. (which is hidden under the knee, so if it is inflamed you couldn't really feel it ) a trained vet is able to bend the knee and feel a portion of it to see if it inflamed/tender.

usually the lameness starts when the horse limps when coming out of a stall/or when not warmed up and once warmed up(trotting/walking for awhile) it goes away.

so if you were working her then stopped to put up some caveletti, it could have allowed her tendons/ligaments and muscles to cool down enough to show lameness again (ie not warmed up = stiffer tendons that aren't supple and show more inflammation when working, warming them up allows them to stretch and give more)

i would get the vet out to chekc what going on.

hope i didn't confuse more than help :)

hope she feels better.
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