Sudden Lameness in Horse - Favoring Front Leg - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 10-17-2009, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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Sudden Lameness in Horse - Favoring Front Leg

My horse has never been lame before so there is always a first time for everything. Currently, I am waiting for the vet to call me back so I am hoping to get some answers soon.

He is a 6.5 year old Baroque Friesian. For the past 2 years since we bought him, we kept him barefoot (he was shod only for the sale). Due to a move, we had to put shoes back on him in May. Corrective shoeing was done in July/August.

Now 5 months later, I noticed this week that he stumbled a bit (he is in his 7th week and is due to get shod next Tuesday). Last Sunday, he was fed the wrong grain and given 800g vs. 500g of food. We watched him closely but there was no heat in his feet even today and most people advised it would have had to be alot of grain to cause that. Wednesday I rode him (he stumbled), Thursday I tricked trained and he walked fine lifting each leg when asked and moved forward freely. Yesterday he was off the entire day (no walker machine either) and due to a neck problem that I am having myself, I was not able to visit him yesterday and decided to not check up on him. His stall has an outside area so that he can move about freely but he was not turned out on the paddock due to the season change (the field is now closed). He was in his stall/outside area the entire day.

Today (Saturday) he is 100% lame in his front, left leg. He actually stumbled/staggered when I tried to walk him out of his stall and I thought it was because he was cold and stiff from no work yesterday. Sometimes, Friesians lock up for this reason and it is being researched now.

However, there was swelling in his leg as well. He is favoring the leg and we tried to do a hoof sensor test but it was hard to tell (he kept moving his foot away being a bit bad mannered). I rode him briefly and he did the complete head bob favoring the left shoulder and I immediately got off. He had that choppy, uneven feeling and those on the ground watching said he was completely lame!!!

The vet is due to come out (I have an emergency call in) but I have not heard back as of yet. I also have never gotten any X rays done so now would be a good time.

Should I be freaking out as of yet? Is it a Navicular (from poor shoeing) or something worse like founder from the mix up of feed the other day? He gets about 1/2 cup of Hypona grain (very little in terms of feeding guidelines) and at least 7-8 flakes of grass hay each day. One person at the barn noticed some swelling in the tendon as well so they think it was a stall injury.

I though at first that maybe he got himself caught in his blanket last night (It is a Bucas and well made) since Friesians love to lay down. The back of the shoe seems to stick out and maybe it got caught in the belly straps when he tried to get up and he twisted his leg.

Thanks for your feedback! This is so frustrating!!!
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post #2 of 9 Old 10-17-2009, 07:10 PM
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My guess, unless the "feed incident" was less than 72 hours ago, is that your horse has an abscess.
Try soaking his foot in 50/50 apple cider vinegar and warm water for about 15 minutes, every day for a week or so. If nothing else, this won't harm your horse, as I doubt you'll be riding him on rocks while he's limping (water logged feet are more easily brusied than dry, hard ones, shod or bare). This will help soften up the hoof to allow the abscess to go ahead and drain on it's own.

The on again/off again stumbling could be symtomatic of an abscess, as they sometimes take a while to really brew, and it's common for them to cause three-legged lameness, and yes, can even cause swelling in the leg. They are very hard for even a vet to find until they are about to blow. My guess is that this is one that's going to pop in the hairline somewhere, because, I've never seen one pop in the sole that cuased leg swelling, but this could be the first!

Try taping a foam pad on the bottom of his foot, to offer some cushion. May not make him much happier, but sure makes YOU feel better, and again, it won't hurt.
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post #3 of 9 Old 10-17-2009, 07:28 PM
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Couldnt have said it any better barefoothooves!
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post #4 of 9 Old 10-18-2009, 08:44 AM Thread Starter
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Hi all:

The vet was out early this morning and though my horse was a bit better (no stumbling out of the stall or limping) he was still favoring the leg. He said more time is still needed to determine the cause because of the swelling in the leg is making it hard to feel.

He has swelling in the tendon so the only conclusion I can make is that he did this to himself in the stall! Unless there is some type of delayed reaction to this type of injury since he was last worked regularly on Wednesday. Maybe he was already lame on Thursday but I just didin't notice it when I did the trick training but he did not seem sore in any way lifting both legs high when asked.

So, now I have to wait and walk him twice a day and hose the leg along with applying some mask (Stay Sound). The farrier is still due on Tuesday so I will ask him about the abscess as well and get a proper hoof test done just for piece of mind.

The vet likened the injury to us hitting our shins very hard and working off the pain that is why he is limping. It is not necessarily the hoof which he checked for sounds with an instrument.

Thanks to all for your replies.
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post #5 of 9 Old 10-18-2009, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by barefoothooves View Post
The on again/off again stumbling could be symtomatic of an abscess, as they sometimes take a while to really brew, and it's common for them to cause three-legged lameness, and yes, can even cause swelling in the leg. They are very hard for even a vet to find until they are about to blow. My guess is that this is one that's going to pop in the hairline somewhere, because, I've never seen one pop in the sole that cuased leg swelling, but this could be the first!
This has been my experience, too. The ones that pop at the hairline can look very much like a sprain with the heat/swelling in the fetlock area. The only difference I've seen is that (for an abcess), as it works toward the band, they will get tender to touch there.

Good luck...lameness can be frustrating and does often require a lot of patience and 'wait and see' to determine the cause.

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post #6 of 9 Old 10-18-2009, 09:21 AM
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I wouldn't rule out the abscess because there is swelling in the tendon just yet (unless he popped a splint, which could be possible). My gelding was pulled out of his stall a few years ago, and was DEAD lame with an abscess--and was swollen all the way up to the knee. They actually thought he might have fractured something.

Good luck, and keep us updated!

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post #7 of 9 Old 10-18-2009, 11:02 PM
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i thought my mare had an abcess. it was two winters ago. i never saw her so lame. she tore her suspensory in the front. it was a very small tare but it looked very painful. i dont think shoeing usually causes navicular disease but i could be wrong. hope you get to the bottom of it soon.
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post #8 of 9 Old 10-19-2009, 01:34 AM
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Ninety percent of lameness in horses are in the hoof. An abcess can cause swelling in the leg and up into the belly. I would have called the farrier first and tried to leave the vet out of it. DMSO and Iodine mixed together and applied to the sole can help with abcesses. I don't know where you are overseas but with vets and hoof problems here I have found that the vets hear hoofbeats and think zebras and the farriers hear hoofbeats and think horses.

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post #9 of 9 Old 10-19-2009, 04:40 PM Thread Starter
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Hah! That was a great! I was thinking the same thing especially since I am going to be hit with a weekend emergency charge and the fact that the vet was leaving on holiday and did a quick once over and said "yep, he is sore and swollen". No bute, no additional advice - just suck it up and deal with it.

I just had one of my trusted colleagues check out my Friesian tonight while we wait for the farrier tomorrow morning. She is great with horses and knows her stuff. When I explained on the phone what happened, she thought maybe it was "muck" in the feathers which is a huge problem with alot of Friesians. She has seen muck cause an entire leg to swell up.

Thankfully my guy has been OK so far but even so, I completely cleaned all of his feathers (the trick is with Palmolive soap but unfortunately I cannot find unflavored Listerine here which is another good thing) until she arrived at the barn to check him out. One she saw him she said it was not muck (which is great because I was going to shave off his feathers - the horror!), she is leaning towards him hitting himself really hard in the leg, almost like us hitting our shins. It is a bone bruise, nothing to do with the tendon. He probably hit himself when getting up from sleeping or something like that because it was not from work.

Regardless, I will continue to hand walk him and slowly get back into riding him at the walk (the vet did say to do this and walk him twice a day). It will be a challenge because he was bucking left and right (complete kick outs while standing on two front legs) tonight while I tried to walk him a bit outside (tried to keep his feathers cleaned instead of getting hall sand back in there!).

He did not look lame at all so please wish us luck! Thanks to all for your advice.
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