The day at the vets, including xrays!
I took my boy to the vets after a couple of months of him not feeling quite right. He wasn't lame at all, but there was a stiffness in him and a lack of forwardness that he couldn't seem to shake.
I actually didn't tell the vet anything at first. He wanted to see the horse do a trot out on both sand and concrete.
He determined that he was lame in the left front and an extremely subtle lameness in the hind left, although the vet thought it was more of a gingerness than an actual lameness in the hind. Flexions showed absolutely nothing (which was a major surprise, because I've never seen a vet hike a hind leg that high before!)
Anyways, since we were there, I opted to take xrays, since I (stupidly) did not do so when I had him vetchecked in April. Anyways, we had the hocks and stifles xrayed, and they were beautifully clean. Not even a hint of arthritis yet or degeneration (and I thought for sure we'd see something, since he's so very large and long bodied)
Here's a pic of the left hock:
Here's a pic of the right:
So that left us with "what now?" Vet checked out his back (where I have felt enormous amounts of stiffness lately), but he was all clear. Palpated his pelvis and SI joints, no problem. So then, on a hunch, the vet asked if we could xray his front feet.
Now, Rico came to me with absolutely horribly feet. I gather that he was turned out in a large pasture and likely only seen once every 4-5 months, so we've been trying to correct the problem. But he's got a very flat foot and quite a soft sole, so the farrier has always been rather hesitant on trimmings, afraid that he would lame him.
So, the xray of the left front proved to be quite interesting. First of all, it was determined that there is actually quite a lot of toe that can be taken off and rounded out-which you would never really guess just looking at his feet. But it also shows how very flat his angle is...the vet mentioned that it was almost a zero p3 angle (which after googling, means that the coffin bone is nearly parallel to the ground), which would put enormous amounts of stress on his legs.
But, and perhaps more interesting, there was some indication of a slight degree of seperation at the toe where the laminae is that happened about 2-3 months ago (when I started feeling this stiffness). the vet called it a hoof wall seperation at the point of the toe, where infection got in, and weakened the laminae to the point that it started to rotate slightly putting even more pressure on his feet. (at the time, he had an overall infection because of how he ripped his ear, so it wouldn't surprise me to know that this was when it started)
So they did that sensor thingy that lights up where heat is showing, and sure enough, it was his left front. They gave him a small injection to block it, and damn if he didn't start trotting much freer.
So the vet's theory is that he's been ouchy up front, so he hasn't wanted to move with much impulsion (because obviously that would put more weight on his front legs as well), so he hasn't been rounding his back like he used to, hasn't been stretching his hind end, so its gotten stiff and sore
So I've gotten in contact with a farrier that specializes with these types of problems, and with the vet's notations of the angles that he wants, and we can work on correcting it.
So keep your fingers crossed for me!
Wow, keeping fingers crossed.
Good thing you brought him to be checked. Its better to know what you are dealing with, to help make it better. I wish you both the best.
Skyhuntress, you might consider doing some more research into hoof mechanics & health before jumping into any big changes. A near ground parallel P3(every horse s slightly different) is exactly what you do want! Building heels or otherwise changing the angle of P3, forcing toe-first landing is what will put the unhealthy stress on his joints, including navicular. That xray looks like a pretty good foot generally. His toes do look a little long & his coffin bone is a bit low in the hoof capsule. hoofrehab.com is one great spot to start learning. Pete Ramey also does a lot of work with vets and has much experience in rehabilitating difficult & 'hopeless' cases.
You don't say how long you've had the horse, but if he came to you with terrible feet, I'd say your farrier has gone a way towards getting them healthy, but if they were already compromised, that long toe could have caused the separation & pain through the leverage of ever step. Or the horse may have suffered a laminitic attack a while back which weakened the laminae at the coronet, and when the weak section grew down far enough, the long toe caused it to rip= pain.
Without further hoof pics & info, I can't say certainly what I'd do, but as an educated guess, I'd back up the toe, probably about to the vertical green line on the xray - this is probably to the 'white line, then 'mustang roll' the wall all the way around. This would relieve the unhealthy & painful pressure on the toe laminae and allow the damage to grow out. What I definitely wouldn't do is shorten the feet at the ground surface if they're already level with the sole. The horse should feel better as soon as the toe pressure is relieved, but with his shallow, flat feet, I'd be protecting those soles & heels with boots for now, so that he can move them correctly & freely.
good luck with everything... keep us updated
I want to second Loosie's statement about a *nearly* ground parallel coffin bone. THe toe needs to be trimmed, for sure, but don't change angles! Bringing the toe back to the correct length and beveling could help the foot build more sole.
Now, when I was talking to the vet, he said that my horse's angle was at 46 degrees, and ideally he wants it sitting at about 52 degrees. What would that mean?
('im meeting with the farrier tomorrow, so it'd be hopeful if I wasn't entirely clueless :-P)
I'll check out the link!
Those are some pretty cool x-rays. The only equine D.I. records I have ever seen were the ones of Barbaro :? but those are pretty neat! thanks for sharing :D
I just want to thank Loosie and BFH for posting because as I was reading the OP, I was thinking the same thing and feeling very stupid/confused (thought I had all along confused something)... and thought the basic structure in the x-ray looked great as well (excepting the toe of course). I would even maybe back up the toe more than the green line, but hard for me to say with certainty with only the x-rays. I rarely get opportunity to see x-rays of feet.
Anyway -- good that you know, Skyhuntress, where the trouble is and you can continue from here! Hope you have success with gathering opinions. BTW, I would do the same as you did with the vet -- don't say anything at first and see what the farriers say on their own.
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