My horse is limping, but I can't figure out why?
 
 

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My horse is limping, but I can't figure out why?

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  • What to do for a horse that just started limping
  • My horse is limping on one back hoof and one front hoof

 
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    10-04-2010, 03:43 PM
  #1
Green Broke
Unhappy My horse is limping, but I can't figure out why?

I apologize that this is long, but I am really just stumped with what might be causing this. So if you have the time, please read the whole thing! I would love some new ideas....

I have a 12-year-old APHA gelding. He is 16.1 hh and I have owned him since he was 6 months old. Our favorite thing to do is barrel racing, but we also do all the other events at the gymkhanas/horse shows as well as some showing events (western pleasure, reining, etc). Basically, I've done EVERYTHING with him! Most of our riding consists of trail riding or working cattle.

When he was 5 years old, he got his left front foot into the barbed wire fence and injured himself severely. I didn't ride him for a whole year after it happened. We thought for sure he would be nothing more than a pasture ornament for the rest of his life. He had been cut from the outside of his foot, starting at the coronary band, all the way down and around and under the hoof at the back. It was a mess. However, quite miraculously, he has been 100% sound and back to barrel racing ever since. His foot is just a bit funky looking now with all the scar tissue. He has never worn shoes as he doesn't have a need for them. I did inquire about corrective shoeing during the time he healed up, but the farrier thought it best to leave him barefoot.

Well, I guess he has been 100% sound until this year. I am currently going to optometry school and my parents have been keeping him for me. I only got about a month and a half off this past summer, but which of all I was home the whole time and was riding him every day. About a few weeks in, I noticed that he was favoring his left leg but only when we would trot. I couldn't feel a thing when we walked, or galloped (lead did not matter). The first time it happened, I got off right away to see if he had a rock in his hoof but there was nothing. I felt both his front legs for any heat or swelling but there was nothing.

This continued quite randomly off and on for the rest of the break I was home and riding him. I couldn't see a pattern or a reason why he would be limping on a certain day or not. And surprisingly, this was the best barrel racing season we've had yet (albeit it was quite short!) and we were winning in the 1D that when we've never been out of the 2D in years past! So I was very impressed with him and really wish I had a longer break...

Now, when I am not home, he does not get ridden very often (seriously maybe 3 or 4 times MAX the whole year) because my mom is the only other rider and she has her own horse to ride. However, she did tell me last week on the phone that she has noticed him limping out in the pasture. I forgot to ask her if it was when he was walking or trotting. But she did say she still sees him tearing around the pasture like crazy doing the playing stuff he does, as if nothing hurts. She did decide to ride him one day last week and actually didn't go very far because he started limping. She felt so bad for him that she got off the last quarter mile and led him home he was limping so bad. She's also checked his legs, hooves, etc and can't seem to see anything that would be causing him to limp.

So the only thing I can come up with is that he may be having some early arthritis.

During the year we were letting him heal from his injury, we did have X-rays done to see if the wire had gone all the way to the bone or not. The vet said everything looked okay except for one little spot where the wire may have hit bone. She couldn't tell because of course, the X-ray was slightly blurry in the area of question. She said that if it did hit bone, it is possible he could have early arthritis problems.

So does this sound like arthritis? What do you guys think? If it is, what supplements/treatment can I give him? He is a VERY picky eater...

Any other ideas of what this could be???
     
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    10-04-2010, 03:54 PM
  #2
Foal
You said that you only had a month of and a half of training and you were competing at a gallop, barrel racing puts alot of pressure on a horse and they need to be very fit for them to do so. You said he doesn't get riddin much so my theory is he got into the gallop around barels a little to fast, (as in he needed to be a little fitter before you started) and now he's probably lame. You should call the vet and have him take a look at your pony :P
     
    10-04-2010, 04:01 PM
  #3
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by meemoicloee23    
you said that you only had a month of and a half of training and you were competing at a gallop, barrel racing puts alot of pressure on a horse and they need to be very fit for them to do so. You said he doesn't get riddin much so my theory is he got into the gallop around barels a little to fast, (as in he needed to be a little fitter before you started) and now he's probably lame. You should call the vet and have him take a look at your pony :P
I should have clarified that I actually first noticed the limping BEFORE I took him to any barrel races or shows during my break. I rode him every day for a few weeks to get him at least a little bit of shape before I asked him to perform at a race or show. Overall, he never gets much out of shape (it's quite amazing, actually). He will sit all winter long with his head in a round bale 24/7 and never even get a hay belly.

And now, he has been sitting at home in the open pasture for over a month with rest and relaxation, doing whatever he pleases, and yet he is still spontaneously limping.

But yes, I do realize I was home for a very short time (only a month and a half) which is not much time to get him into shape for much of anything, so we only went to 4 things during that time. I do not use whips or spurs on him ever at a show; he runs freely himself.
     
    10-04-2010, 04:03 PM
  #4
Foal
Alright well then it sounds like you knew what you were doing, you should still get a vet to chek him out :)
     
    10-04-2010, 04:09 PM
  #5
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by meemoicloee23    
alright well then it sounds like you knew what you were doing, you should still get a vet to chek him out :)
My only concern is that the day I decide to haul him to a vet (keeping in mind the closest one is 70 miles away, which would be 140 round-trip) or have the vet come see him (which is a minimum $100 for the trip alone) is that of course that would be the day he is fine with no limp. And I'm not so sure it would be a good evaluation if they cannot see first-hand how and where he is limping.

My other problem is that my parents are keeping him for me right now while I am in school. And being in graduate school = no money. I myself would not hesitate to take him to the vet for a problem such as this once I am on my own in a few years, but right now I am not the one who would be paying the vet bill. And unless the vet happens to be coming out for the cattle anyway, there's little to no chance that's going to get my parents to take him to the vet. It is just too expensive for a horse that is currently eating all the grass in the pasture.

So ... that is why I have not already taken him to the vet and am here on a forum instead trying to figure out what may be wrong.
     
    10-04-2010, 04:16 PM
  #6
Trained
It could be arthritis for sure, but it could be any number of other things also. I know that often horses with arthritis do much better with regular exercise, which could explain the flare-up now.
Truly, you will never know the answer without an xray or ultrasound or nerve block or any combination thereof. You could treat him as though he has arthritis until you get the vet to see him. Arthritis supplements certainly won't hurt him. Glucosamine and Chondroitin are my sups of choice.
     
    10-04-2010, 04:20 PM
  #7
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthernMama    
It could be arthritis for sure, but it could be any number of other things also. I know that often horses with arthritis do much better with regular exercise, which could explain the flare-up now.
Truly, you will never know the answer without an xray or ultrasound or nerve block or any combination thereof. You could treat him as though he has arthritis until you get the vet to see him. Arthritis supplements certainly won't hurt him. Glucosamine and Chondroitin are my sups of choice.
Have you ever had horses that wouldn't eat it? (I'm assuming it comes in pellet form or something similar.) Or do you have a particular brand that you seem like like best? I've never used supplements ever, and neither has my mom, so I certainly feel un-educated in that sort of thing.

I have thought about starting him on something like that anyway, just to help prevent it or slow the progression in the long run, but I haven't yet. I am almost certainly convinced he will NOT eat it either. He is the pickiest eater I have ever seen. He even turns his nose up to certain feeds! Those should be like candy!

'Course, this is probably also why he never has a hay belly in the winter. The hay bale is there 24/7 but he probably picks through it so much, being so picky, that he probably doesn't eat that much. (And yes, it is good quality hay. We hay it ourselves.)
     
    10-04-2010, 05:45 PM
  #8
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by beau159    
My only concern is that the day I decide to haul him to a vet (keeping in mind the closest one is 70 miles away, which would be 140 round-trip) or have the vet come see him (which is a minimum $100 for the trip alone) is that of course that would be the day he is fine with no limp. And I'm not so sure it would be a good evaluation if they cannot see first-hand how and where he is limping.
That's a chance you have to take. My vet charged me $95 for a same-day farm-call fee, just today... and they're office is only about 25 miles away.

And the vet should be able to see even a minute lameness, or they can flex him and make something show up.
     
    10-04-2010, 09:45 PM
  #9
Yearling
If you're concerned about him not eating it, find a supplement on SmartPak. Call them and talk to them about a supplement, and they will send you samples. That way, you know that your horse will eat it before you buy it.

As far as knowing what is causing the lameness, a vet is the only real way to go.
     
    10-04-2010, 09:53 PM
  #10
Yearling
If there are bony changes (arthritis) your vet will not need him to limp to see this on the radiographs. I would be thinking about long term changes associated with that leg injury last year. Often a foot that is significantly different than the others will cause problems, especially after a return to work.
     

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