I have reached a dead end with my 4 year old gelding's tendon problems. He has swelling over the carpal sheath (where the extensor tendon originates) and a pronounced digital extensor tendon down the length of his front, right leg into his pastern/fetlock area. While he is not lame, he does knuckle over at the fetlock when grazing or when standing tied and at a walk, he will 'pop' the fetlock down at the last second after a toe first landing. He did not seem to have any discomfort from this obvious issue, but as time progressed (I've had him 6 months now), I noticed he was getting sore on his front end and because his left foot bore most of the weight, it began to get boxy and dished. To make matters worse, the first farrier I used didn't trim the toes very well and they got rather long, amplifying the extensor tendon so it was literally bulging down the length of the leg. The swelling of joint fluid at the carpus, where the extensor tendon begins, is squishy and not hot. It does not respond to poultices, sweats, etc.
Concerned about the swelling and his 'popping' and knuckling of the fetlock, I called out a vet. She said he was not sensitive to flexion tests, that his right hoof was sound and that his left food was slightly sensitive to hoof testers. She suggested I see if bute helped. As she did not have an xray or radiograph machine, she could not do more and referred me to a lameness vet.
The lameness vet came out and told me my horse had nothing wrong with him. He did admit that on a circle/bend, he was slightly off to the left (because of the soreness due to additional weight baring) but told me that my gelding needed bute and front shoes to alleviate the pressure.
I've been giving my gelding bute and while he seems more comfortable, his tendon issues are still the same. He pops his fetlock and knuckles over when standing. Also, after putting shoes on yesterday, my gelding is very sore and will not walk. I am having the farrier come out tomorrow to see what might have happened and why my gelding that was NOT lame but walked strangely is now quite lame.
Has anyone had any extensor tendon injuries/sprains/etc.? Any suggestion as to my next step? He was broke at age 3, but because of this strange development, I've stopped riding him as he would get very sore on the front. I am quite dumbfounded and don't know where to go from here. I am concerned that at such a young age he is already having tendon issues. Would draining the fluid at the carpal sheath/extensor tendon maybe alleviate the pressure on the rest of the tendon? How do I get the tendon to stop contracting so his fetlock can rest without over stressing that tendon?
Thanks so much. :)