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CharliGirl 05-19-2010 06:54 PM

Picking Up Arthritic Feet--And Senior Horse Other Questions
I wasn't sure whether I should post this in the training or health section, but I'll put it here. :-)

As you may know, I was given a 27 year old appaloosa gelding. He has some arthritis in his knees and a bit in his hocks. His right knee is noticeably "chunkier" than his left--perhaps the remains of an old injury. Would it help to post pictures?

Anyway, he is either a testy or completely desensitized horse. He doesn't like to yield to pressure, ignores my legs (he was used for therapeutic riding), and doesn't like to stop when I'm riding him (but never runs off and he'll stop fine when leading from the ground). Is he being disrespectful or am I asking too much of him?

So we have been having troubles picking up his feet. His right front in particular. He paws out forwards when I ask (more like pull with all my might) to pick it up. He walks, trots, and canters in the pasture and it doesn't seem like he is favoring that leg (I'm not real keen at picking up slight lameness--but he is NOT limping). His other feet are hard to pick up (you've really gotta pull--you can't nicely ask him) but you can get them up.

The farrier thinks he is sore because of the extra arthritis in that knee, so I put him on a strong joint supplement and have some aspirin for longer rides and such.

Any ideas or advice would be greatly appreciated. :-)

Appyt 05-19-2010 07:38 PM

My 31 yr old appy is on a double dose of MSM daily to help with his arthritis. He has great difficulty picking up one front hoof for cleaning or trimming without bute for several days. In his case it's his shoulder, opposite side, that hurts him. He will paw, pull away, and groan if we try to manipulate it without sufficient bute. He does walk around, trot some and gives the grandkids rides without lameness. The more exercise he gets the better he moves. Just don't shut an arthritic horse in a stall. Make sure they have room to move around.

maura 05-19-2010 08:15 PM

Appyt's advice is excellent, ESPECIALLY no stall time, 24/7 turnour.

Here's a simple diagnostic. Give him 2 grams of bute in the evening; the following morning, try picking his feet up and see if he's more cooperative. If so, you have your answer - it's not behavioral, it's pain.

Of course, you can't keep him on bute long term, but I would def give him bute the evening before and the morning of a farrier appointment. There's also lots you can do to manage arthritis in an older horse: MSM or other joint supplements, injections, mild, consistent forced exercise, 24/7 turnout.

If bute doesn't change his behavior; then you can feel free to address this as a training issue and assume he learned to get over on his handlers during his time as a therapuetic horse.

I'd bet that it has more to do with pain and stiffness.

Valentina 05-20-2010 02:17 PM

You farrier gave you excellent advice about the joint supplements - those and as much turnout as you can give him will help.

Asking the horses to stop (and he doesn't) means he needs to learn to stop - so ask nicely once (saying whoa) and if he doesn't really get on his case to stop.

(Always ask nicely first THEN if horse doesn't listen get on his case - teaches them to listen to the quiet/subtle request.)

MN Tigerstripes 05-20-2010 02:26 PM

Everyone else hit the nail on the head. My old mare (30) has extreme difficulty picking up all of her legs due to arthritis/balance issues. Find out if it is pain (Maura's suggestion is excellent) and go from there.

If it is pain make sure to find a farrier who is willing to take it slow and give him multiple breaks during the process. When I trim my mare's hooves I rotate every minute or so to give her a break. Give some bute the night before and the morning of trimming.

koomy56 05-20-2010 03:07 PM

I have a little tip to add to help you to pick up his feet. When you ask softly for him to lift his leg and he doesn't, use the end of your hoofpick and gently tap his fetlock with it. You might need to tap harder depending on him, but as soon as he lifts his leg take your hand away. Repeat this until when you ask gently he picks up his foot. Easy thing to help you not strain yourself too hard, because you know he's laughing inside watching you struggle. hehe

CharliGirl 05-20-2010 07:35 PM

Thanks for all of the advice everyone!

Kubie is turned out 24/7 in a 3/4 acre pasture with my other horses. I have been lightly riding him and he hasn't shown any soreness or pain. He loves to get out and go places! :)

He is on a glucosamine/MSM + supplement by Direct Equine. It has 10,000 mg Glucosamine and 8,000 mg of MSM. Is this a good choice?

Direct Flex™

I don't have any bute (do you need to get it through a vet or under a vet's supervision?), but I do have a bunch of horse aspirin. That would have a similar effect to bute, right? I will give that a try to see if that is why he is picky about that foot--thanks so much for that idea!

I have an amazing farrier. Kubie was acting a little stiff with his hoof up on the hoofjack, so she let us take a few minute long walking breaks. Those seemed to help a lot. I'm glad I have such a patient and helpful farrier! My farrier mentioned how some bute/aspirin would be a good idea before a trim--just to make him a bit more comfortable.

CharliGirl 05-22-2010 12:25 AM

So I tried the aspirin today--the dosage on the package suggested 1/8 to 4 tablespoons. I gave him 1 tablespoon, and it seemed to help I bit. I could tell his knee wasn't as swollen, and he would lift it up a bit. I still couldn't pick it out though...should I try more so I will know how much to give him for when the farrier comes out?

I watched Kubie closely when he walked, and he flexes his knee and everything when he walks--pretty much to a lower position where I could pick it out (I tend to hold my horses feet lower to the ground when I handle their hooves). Unless holding it there is painful, I'm not quite sure why he won't let me pick up that leg...or at least tilt his hoof to a position where I could clean it out.

In his previous home, he was the boss and would sometimes eat the other horse's grain, which contained bute. Perhaps that might be why he let me pick up his feet for the first few days I had him? How long does bute stay in the system?

MN Tigerstripes 05-22-2010 10:05 AM

According to my vet it depends on the horse and the amount of pain they are in. Flame seems to feel the effects of just a gram for 1-2 days.

I've noticed that the leg I have the most problems picking up w/ Flame isn't the really injured one (that she can't bend all the way). She gives me the stiff leg very easily. But she is always very reluctant to give me her other front leg and from her actions it seems to be very uncomfortable to put her weight on the injured/stiffer leg while I'm working on her better one. That may be a problem for him too.

Appyt 05-22-2010 11:16 AM

That is the way my appy is. Opposite from bad shoulder.

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