X-Ray Critique (djd) -- so how bad is it?
Ok, give me the doom and gloom or a reason to lift my spirits.
My 7 year old rescued quarter horse has been diagnosed with degenerative joint disease in his pastern joint. He had x-rays of his right-front early this year and nothing conclusive came from them but in November he came up lame in the left-front. We x-rayed that foot and the vet told me that his lameness was certainly caused by osteoarthritis in his pastern joint.
I'm not trying to use the internet for a replacement vet/farrier but it's been weighing so heavily on my mind that the more opinions the better, right?
He was due for a trim when these x-rays were taken and his toes have been taken back and rounded and he's also now got a wedge pad. He's had two legend injections that don't seem to do much, tbh.
He gets daily joint supplement (SmartFlex Repair Pellets - Horse Joint Supplements from SmartPak Equine) and daily turn out. We're moving barns this Friday to a place with much bigger/better facilities where we won't be rained out for a month at a time and there is always somewhere to walk around even in the worst weather.
I even bought ridiculous magnetic horse ankle/pastern wraps to try and Back on Track Quick Wraps (Back on Track Quick Wraps - Magnetic & Heat Therapy from SmartPak Equine) for him to wear overnight. Haven't used these yet but will start after our move.
He has been upbeat, playful and eager to move around. He seems to be improving with exercise he is still noticeably a little off trotting to the left.
Sorry for rambling. Anyone care to take a peak at the x-rays and tell me if they are the end of the world or not? He was very sound for a good four/five months after his initial endless rehab and I just am really looking for any hope that this is something manageable with patience.
He's my all-around pleasure/trail/fun horse and I would love to keep him fit enough to occasionally participate in play days and go trail riding. While I don't ever expect him to be a show horse or master one thing in particular it would be wonderful if we could try a bit of everything now and again without too much stress. Really though, he is just so young (7!) and I am determined to find a solution so he can have a job (or several jobs!) and have fun and be happy and comfortable!
I love my golden man and all I've been hearing lately is negativity and "you shouldn't have gambled with this broken horse, this is what you get" and yeah... would just love as many opinions as possible. Any tips, tricks and advice would be great too! I'm really doing literally everything I can get my hands on and am open to all suggestions!
All x-ray views here: A palomino story.
Ok so just to add on (sorry, aaah I'm posting way to much) the vet also noticed navicular cysts i the x-rays but did not think they were causing any of the present lameness.
In managing degenerative joint disease there are a few things which are very helful and a lot of things which are only on the market to get your money.
Personally I have not had any success with managing arthritic horses using oral joint supplements, magnets or heat therapy using things like the Back on Track products. These are all ridiculously expensive and for the limited potential of improvement they have are not all that cost effective in my eyes.
In pro active management of joint disease there are three major things we need to do:
Prevent further joint damage
Attempt to improve the condition of the joint
Manage pain and inflammation
This can mostly be managed by doing the following:
Giving the horse 24/7 access to open walking space in a large paddock
Making sure the joints are cooled out after the work out (by icing or cold hosing them after exercise)
Managing the horse's weight that he does not become overwieght and place too muh stress on the joints
Managing the horse's exercise schedule that he is not overworked for his condition - this means condition the horse properly! You can't just pull him out of the feild after a week off and expect him to do walk trot canter - regardless of what he is doing in the field. Do lots of walk with this horse
Making sure he is being worked on even, soft footing
If the horse is worked particularily hard for his condition one day it is OK to administer a gram of bute or some asprin to manage the inflammation
Beyond this basic management system which is cost effective and I have found gives the most "bang for your buck" there are a few things which may also help.
The first is looking into doing a course of Adequan (7 IM shots every 4 days) with your vet to attempt to improve the joints' condition. This is expensive.
Another course of action is looking into doing Tildren with your vet to improve bone density in the joints. This is also expensive.
Talk to your vet about getting the horse on regular Legend IV shots.
Talk to your vet about getting intra-articular injections of Legend or steroids to halp manage pain.
If you have access to such a facility - working the horse on a water treadmill or in a swimming pool will help to improve his condition with less impact on the joints as well.
Eventually, the horse will deteriorate to the point where he is not useable. I don't know if that point in the horse's life is now or 10 years down the road, but given the fact that he is already lame you may have to scale back your expectations for his abilities. Realistically I think he may only be usable as a pleasure type trail horse who can walk around with a rider on his back for maybe half an hour a few times a week. If you aggressively manage the arthritis with regular IA injections and constant Adequan he may be able to do some small competitions or "play days" however I would not seriously trail ride him as the uneven footng may flare up his arthritis.
Talk to your vet seriously about what your options are and good luck!
Thank you for the thoughtful post :) As I mentioned above, he is presently on Legend injections and has had two so far. I'm supposed to call the vet in a few weeks with a status update to schedule the next one depending on how he is doing in regards to when it should be administered.
I wasn't aware of cold hosing after exercise so that's great, thank you!
I hand walk him every day whether or not we ride or do more. When riding we do a lot of walking to warm up before ever asking him to pick up the trot or do anything else.
Is your evaluation of a half hour in-saddle walk a few times a week based on the x-rays or on the fact that I said he had been off the past few weeks? I think that this may be the case down the road but it's not where we are at right now! :? Would love more info for how you came to that conclusion - especially if it's related to the x-rays!!
I'm not in the situation to have him in local pasture board. I preemptively don't want to argue the point... you come move to Los Angeles and see my options before criticizing that decision. To me it is more important that he is close enough that I can visit every day.
He is currently and is also moving to a big, roomy stall. He has and will continue to receive daily turn out for a few hours a day while I am at work in addition to nightly hand walks / rides / turn out / exercise when I am off of work.
I understand that at some point he will deteriorate and I fully expect to find him a safe, comfortable pasture situation when that day comes but it likely won't be anywhere near local. :-( I don't want that to happen any time soon, however! I'm hoping that with proper management I can keep him work-ably sound for a long while until he is older and it is not quite so sad to retire him.
Any thoughts on the x-rays themselves?
I won't comment on the xrays themselves as I am not a vet/radiographer. However, I can tell you a bit about my own issues with horses with arthritis.
My 8 year old tb gelding was diagnosed with osteoarthritis arthritis and a bone spur in his hock about 7 months ago now. The options given to me were :
-surgically/chemically fuse the joint (this was not a viable option due to the cost involved and the vet steered away from it as the joint affected was too fine/small and would probably be completely wrecked if we did an invasive therapy)
- turn him out for 6-12 months on Joint Guard Plus and work him lightly to try and encourage the joint to fuse
- incorporate regular joint injections with light work to encourage joint fusion
I went down the joint injection method first, he ended up with a joint infection which increased the damage. We then went for muscular injections and none of these helped in the slightest
It has now been nearly 8 months, he is on Joint Guard Plus, in a paddock 24/7 and worked lightly twice a week. He still has his off days where he is very sore and there is very little chance of him returning to full dressage work. But I'll be happy if he comes sound enough to be a pleasure horse for someone.
Joint problems are a real pain :/
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