Horse getting "stuck" when asked to go forward
I have a strange problem, and I'm hoping (okay, maybe not, haha. I wouldn't wish this on anyone!) that some people here have experience with this!
It started last fall, completely out of nowhere. My horse had been great up until then. No problems whatsoever. We were walking to the left, down the long side, and when I asked him to canter he just...stopped. He stopped, his head came up, and he swung his haunches way to the inside. It was baffling, especially since there was no prior warning or anything.
It kept happening from then on. It was always worse going left, but he would do the same thing both ways. And both ways when this happened he would swing his haunches LEFT. So when going right he'd swing his butt to the outside. We had the vet out to look at him, but she couldn't find anything wrong with him. She said it could be his hocks, so we tried legend/adequan for a few months. No change. We tried massage therapy. Nada. We checked his saddle fit. Nothing.
Then he fractured his left front coffin bone during the winter and was on stall rest for months. The fracture was a pain to diagnose, and he ended up needing a bone scan so we could figure out what was wrong with him. The bone scan showed there was inflammation in his fractured foot, and some in his neck. His hocks showed no inflammation.
We started bringing him back to work early this summer, just walking at first. He was fine. He stayed fine after we started trotting again. But once we got the green light to up his trot work...the weird haunches thing came back. He started stopping and swinging his haunches left even at the walk. Again, it was worse going left. Doing upwards from walk to trot was really difficult because of this. He would start doing this when he even SUSPECTED that I might ask him to go faster. Getting him to canter to the left was virtually impossible.
So, we had the vet back out. We decided to get his neck injected, because he had some arthritis there and it was the only thing we could find that was wrong with him. So we got that done, and it really helped him overall! He felt and acted so much better and happier. But the weird haunches problem didn't go away.
Next we tried an equine chiropractor. A lot of people I know have had great success with this guy, so I gave it shot. Again, my horse felt a lot better overall after getting worked on...but the problem is still here.
Also, to rule out an attitude problem, we put him on bute for a week. And what do you know? On painkillers he was a completely different horse. Didn't do the weird haunches thing once. He was great!
So I feel really bad about this whole thing, because I KNOW something is hurting him. I just can't figure out what the heck it is. I've spent so much time and money trying to figure this out, and I'm completely at a loss. My trainer is at a loss. All the vets I've talked to are at a loss.
I wish I had any advice. ONly just to say that it's commendable to what lengths you are going to figure this out, and I will be curious to see what others have to say.
And he never limps or seems stiff or sore otherwise? This is going to sound really bizarre, but has his tail been checked for injuries? I don't think this is the case in your scenario, but niggling lameness issues in horses have, after years of misdiagnosis, finally been traced to a fractured tail.
Has he gone on the horsey treadmill with the high-tech lameness scanner?
Well, I'll definitely look into that, because you never know! He isn't actually lame, though. Once he gets "unstuck" he moves great. It is quite odd. He was obviously lame for awhile because of his fractured foot, but now he's sound and has been for months. Those high-tech lameness scanners sound awesome, though, so I'll ask my vet about that.
On cold, damp days he can start out a little stiff, but it isn't much. I can feel it, but people on the ground can't tell. He works out of it pretty quick, though, and it never happens when it is warmer/drier. He does the thing with his haunches in all types of weather and temperature. :???:
Another thing: we wondered if his problem could be neurological, so we had the vet out and she examined him. He didn't show any signs of having any neurological issues. He tested normally.
And also, this horse has a tendency to hide pain. While I do appreciate that he doesn't try to buck me off when he's hurting...it is still super unhelpful. For example: for about a week after he fractured his coffin bone he only showed lameness right after doing canter-to-trot downward transitions. For a step or two he would seem a teeny bit "funny" and then he would be normal. I was actually the only one who could tell. It was that subtle. Everyone thought I was overreacting when I had the vet out to look at him. It took him almost two weeks and several vet visits for him to finally start showing that he was in serious pain. And even then I had to do a canter-to-trot downward to "trigger" the lameness. Once I did that, he would be lame for the rest of the ride. But it took him awhile to even get to that point. Because of this, we didn't realize how serious his injury was at first. We felt awful when we realized his "slight lameness" was actually a fracture! :-(
Just another long shot and guess.
But I have had horses that seem to remember the pain of a previous injury. It could be that giving him the bute helps to forget the pain that use to be there? I would continue giving the bute, and see if something else physical shows up, or he goes back to normal while spacing the dosage..
I must say, you are a great owner! Most would have given up by now due to the expense... Lucky horse!
Aww, thanks. Nice comments like that help keep me going. xD I've only had him for about 18 months, so we've had a rough time of it! I really love this horse. He is such a sweetheart, and tries so hard to do well. And also...*cough* there is um, another reason why I'm determined to help him get better. I feel kind of awful about this part of it, but seeing as how much I paid for him...he has to get better. I know that sounds kind of bad, but it definitely does raise the stakes. I'd still do the same for a less expensive horse, but knowing how much depends on this working out adds to the tension.
This is the first video I saw of him. That's his old trainer riding him in Florida.
...I have such awful luck with horses. :-(
I'm assuming his stifles have been checked, too?
Could very well be stifle lock. Does he keep his back leg/s stiff or slightly out behind his quarters when he stops?
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