"minor" lameness? When to call the vet...?

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"minor" lameness? When to call the vet...?

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    09-22-2012, 06:09 PM
Super Moderator
"minor" lameness? When to call the vet...?

Poor Lacey. She's had quite a the spring, summer, and now apparently fall.

Basically, for the last little bit (maybe a month or so) I've been wondering if Lacey was slightly "off" gait-wise but I had no real proof besides a feeling. Then, on Thursday, I took her for a ride and on the way down to the trails (on asphalt) I asked her to trot in-hand and she was definitely headbobbing. We walked the rest of the way down to the trails and by the time we got there, she seemed to have worked it out and was no longer bobbing, at all, while trotting.

THEN, yesterday she really tripped with one of her lesson kids and came up a bit off at the trot. She was still totally happy to trot, just a bit "off" while trotting (on grass).

This morning when I went to let her out of her stall (been stalling her overnight for the last week in preparation for winter+keeping her off the slick mud) and she was obviously sore on her right front. The fetlock area was a bit swollen on the inside but there was no heat.
I let her out, she walked around for probably 30 minutes, brought her back down to the stall to eat "breakfast", and while ouchy going downhill (was using the left front leg to support most of her weight on the downhill) the swelling was less and she was more all around comfy.
She's fine with me poking and prodding the fetlock area and she's not hesitating to move around at her normal pace (however, she is trying to avoid putting a bunch of weight on that leg).

Anyway, I'm not sure if I should get the vet out for a lameness exam. My gut says I should but at the same time, maybe I should give it a few more days...

The other thing is that due to her eye issues, she's on a bunch of natural painkillers/anti-inflammatories (Devil's Claw+Yucca and twice the normal dose of MSM) as well as a few other things to decrease inflammation. Therefore, whatever she's done to herself MAY be something that is causing her less pain/is less inflamed than it might be if she weren't on those drugs...

The other twist in this is that I've never stalled her overnight before. All the incidences of this mystery lameness have occurred within an hour-2 hours or less of being out, after a night in. She is 27 so it seems reasonable that she has some old stiffnesses that might be being exacerbated by being in overnight...
However, she needs to be in off the mud, when it happens, and her stall is the only place that can happen... I would just wait but she's the type to really dislike sudden change and I won't have the time to ease her into it when it gets muddy like I do now...

The OTHER thing is that she's had some terrible farrier work this spring/summer. Her last farrier let her hooves get pretty bad, angle-wise, and I'm having to fix it myself. It's slow going but we're getting there. However, her joints have been under unnecessary stress from that...

Anyway, with all that^, would you call the vet?
I'm thinking I'll probably just call on Monday and get advise, if nothing else... It would be good for Miss L to get a once over from the vet prior to the winter anyway.
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    09-23-2012, 05:37 AM
Horses are stoic & usually aren't 'obvious' about lameness unless it's serious. Also you say she's been off for a month or so. Not to mention already being on painkillers, so I'd think it's probably pretty substantial. Therefore I'd definitely think it's time for the vet & full checkup. I wouldn't expect anything better in a few more days without treatment if it's already been going on for that long.

I would not be cooping her up at night unless absolutely necessary - which 'preparation for winter' is not. That could well be exacerbating it. Why does she have to be locked up? I know you said mud, but coming from an area that most .live in it....

And yes, farrier work, esp re 'changing angles' & such, especially on a 27yo horse is likely to have an impact.
    09-23-2012, 12:36 PM
Super Moderator
Thanks loosie, that's basically what I was thinking - I'll give the vet a call on Monday. :)

As far as stalling her goes, the main reason for it is that last spring (the last time it was muddy) I kept finding her "stuck" different places in her pasture because she knew there was slippery mud (our soil has a high clay content) nearby but she didn't know if she could make it across - due to her eyes. She could/would cross the mud if I helped her cross it but on her own, she'd just stand there neighing for me.
Since she would often get stuck away from water/food, my main concern is that she would get stuck at night, try to make her way out due to hunger/thirst, then slip and fall, and cause herself even more trepidation. She's already very nervous about slipping and I don't need her to do that at night when she has the least sight of any given time period.
Otherwise, I would love to just leave her out. Stalling her at night is very un-ideal.
I agree that most in the NW live with the mud and Lacey has her entire life. But, as her sight has diminished, her confidence when encountering mud has too.
Basically, I guess, if she were out at night when it was muddy, it would be likely for her to end up "stalling" herself...only without food or water. :/
    09-23-2012, 08:21 PM
^^OK then. Forgot about the sight concerns. Thought you appreciated the 'cons' of stabling & wouldn't be doing it unless necessary, but just to be sure...
    09-23-2012, 08:29 PM
How long have you been doing her hooves yourself? You very well could be doing something that is affecting her negatively, especially since she is coming off a bad trim. I would call a good farrier/trimmer for a consult, they will usually do one for half the cost of the trim and a good one will let you know if you should get a vet out or not.
    09-23-2012, 09:00 PM
Super Moderator
For sure, loosie. I hope didn't come off as sassy, I didn't mean it. :) and yeah, stabling is not my favorite. I've made her stall as large as possible (a 12x12 covered stall area plus a 22x14 rubber matted 'run') so thankfully it's not as small as it could be, I guess. :)

Liegha, I've wondered the same thing. However, the reason I am doing her hooves is because I can't find anyone good. The lady who used to trim her kept making her lame on gravel and the guy after that is the one who really messed her angles up - kept leaving flares+let her heels contract SO much. The only other recommended farrier in the area won't do Lacey because he "only goes to boarding barns with more thao one client". :/
I'm seriously considering asking the lady who kept getting her lame on gravel to come out and fix up her fronts. I have the backs under control but her fronts are a bit out of control flare-wise. She owes me a trim anyway and though she's not great long-term (the problem before was that she got a little 'comfortable'), she's good at fixing hooves.
I think I'll do that. Then hopefully I can get on top of them and things'll be ok...
    09-23-2012, 09:18 PM
Originally Posted by Wallaby    
I'm seriously considering asking the lady who kept getting her lame on gravel to come out and fix up her fronts.
If this person doesn't touch soles or frogs, or lower heels too much if frogs are weak, that *shouldn't* happen(I know, there are still exceptions...) But if you want to send us some pics to suggest what you may be able to do differently...
    09-24-2012, 12:07 AM
Super Moderator
Yeah, she doesn't trim any of the 'good' stuff. My theory is that L wasn't being trimmed often enough (her hooves seem to grow fast but also wear fast so to make a difference she has to be trimmed every 2 weeks) so the trimmer would trim off what excess wall she could but that'd land Lacey's really flat+weak sole on the ground. Since I've been doing her every couple of weeks, I've noticed her soles getting SO much thicker and just all around stronger. Anyway, that's my theory. And, I've been attempting to use her white line as a guide, she's totally sound on gravel.

I've been meaning to take some hoof pictures for you guys, it just keeps slipping my mind when I'm actually with Lacey. >.<

In other news, I think she may have just pulled something or hit herself good tripping. Her pastern was not swollen this morning, at all, and she was moving much better on it. Still some headbobbing at the trot but less. And, she offered the trot in her pasture this morning where she had been slightly hesitant to even really walk yesterday.
I'm still going to get the vet's opinion+hopefully get some hoof pics for you guys, but I'm feeling better about this.
This horse, she is basically tough as nails. I do not even know
    09-24-2012, 12:31 AM
This conversation has worked it's way to the farrier answer that I was going to suggest. Any lameness issues, I call the farrier before I call the vet.
    09-24-2012, 12:52 AM
You mentioned tripping, head bobbing, sore foot, but not tender on gavel.
pictures would help. Im curious if she has long toes ( breakover in the wrong spot )
Does she have heat in the hoof. Im also curious if she has an abbcess brewing. Is her cornary band tender any where or if you put pressure on the sole does it cause discomfort? An abcess is #1 in hoof ailments. Its caused by many thing (even just a bump into something or stepping on a rock)
Also stalling a horse can make them stock up and swell. The swelling normaly goes down after they start moving around. Every horse is different...
Hope this may help .

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