Lame horse, any ideas?
My horse has been off in the front since mid-may.
It started on & off, some days sound, some lame. I got the chiro to come look at her about 2 weeks after it started. He said she'd dislocated her shoulder, popped it back into place and gave me some stretches and exercises to do. I was to lightly lunge her everyday for a week starting the next day so her tight muscles could stretch out after being out of place. So I did as he said and she seemed to get progressively better. At one point while lunging she only looked lame in the one direction. When the week was up I got on to see how she felt. My coach remarked on how much more relaxed she looked compared to before, but I could still feel/see the head-bobbing so I got off.
I kept up with the stretches and scheduled another chiro appointment.
My farrier came out before the appointment, removed her shoes (at this point I realized I wasn't going to get much riding done this summer) and checked her feet to see if he could see anything. He didn't.
Chiro came out, did some more adjustments to her shoulder, and said to continue stretches/lunging until she was sound. I did as told until one day I went out and she was visibly lame while she was walking. The head-bobbing was quite severe, you'd think she had a nail stuck in her foot!
She was put on stall rest for a week (I didn't want to aggrivate it). At the end of the week she was back to how she was before.
I got the farrier out last week to check if there was an abscess in her foot, he checked both front and found nothing.
Throughout all this she's had no heat in her leg/foot/shoulder and I haven't found any sensitive areas on her leg (that she didn't want me touching).
Sorry for the novel! I just wanted to give a lot of details in case you see something I've missed. I'm really at a loss, my coach is out of ideas and our next step is to get the vet out. The only problem is we don't have any experienced horse vets up here (the closest being 5-6 hours away) so all she'll be able to do is take xrays and send them away to be looked at, and do a wobblers syndrome test :-| (we had a horse in the area diagnosed with it, and now she seems to think every other sick horse has it.)
What's really getting me is that the severity of her lameness keeps fluctuating with no apparant cause. Any ideas would be GREATLY appreciated. I have no idea what to do now.
Here are some videos I took today of her trotting on different surfaces, sorry if they're not great, I didn't get to watch them until we got home.
If it is a soft tissue injury, it can take up to 6 months to heal. I went through the same thing with my mare last year. She was on and off lame, I did bloodwork, x-rays, chiro, the whole 9 yards. It all yielded nothing (she was low in vitamin E...that's it). Finally the vet said that it was most likely a minor soft tissue injury and to just give her the winter off and slowly rehab her in the spring. Well, I did just that and she has been fine ever since.
Did you check her back? Also, another thing to look into is that sometimes lyme disease can produce odd lameness as well, and it's just a simple blood test to fine out. You might want to do x-rays though, just to make sure there isn't anything really serious going on. Good luck! I know how frusturating it can be to see a whole summer of riding slipping away from you :(
I think it's time to throw in the towel and have the vet out. To me, it looked like she might actually be a little sore in the back but I would think the Chiro would have caught that. Do you have her on any joint supplements? I think the lyme disease check is a good idea, just beware, it's costly. Seems like Blue's test was several hundred dollars last summer.....
I hadn't thought of joint supplements! I did a quick search just now for brands, but it was a bit overwhelming. Do you know a good brand that's worth the price you pay? I don't mind spending money as long as I'm getting what I pay for.
I'll try the chiro one more time, and I'll ask specifically about her back this time.
About the Lyme disease, do I have to ask her to make a note to check for it during the blood test, or is it a routine check?
Thanks for your input, both of you. I appreciate it.
Your horse appears off on his right fore.
Your farrier could better identify the specific cause by performing the following exams.
Palpate the limb between the carpus and the fetlock for any indication of a bowed SDF or DDF tendon.
Check just below the fetlock for a bounding digital pulse. It is difficult to check for heat as a source of inflammation since our perception of heat varies with ambient temperature, the horses body temperature and working factors. The digital pulse is a better indication of inflammation. If you don't know how to check your horses digital pulse, here is a good training video on the subject.
Use a pair of hoof testers to search for specific areas of sensitivity at the frog, sole and bars of the foot.
Perform a flexural exam and watch for any positive reaction to either flexion or extension of the limb.
If the problem still cannot be localized then consider a set of radiographs.
Thanks for the suggestions! I'll definitely look into them. The video was very helpful too, thanks for posting it!
About the flexural exam; by positive reaction do you mean she enjoys the stretching and it seems like a relief, or she reacts to it like it's painful?
How old is your horse? What has he been used for, presently and in the past?
I wouldn't be adverse to getting xrays at this point. The on-off lameness is what happened with my gelding as well. I'm wondering if he did in fact have some shoulder issues that were addressed by the chiropractor, but all that longing aggravated any sort of issues he was having in his right forelimb.
While you wait for the farrier and chiropractor to come and assess him, you may want to consider backing off on the longing. If you MUST longe (now and in the future), try and do as many long, straight lines as possible, and make the diameter of your circle as large as you can by walking and giving him lots and lots of space. Those tight circles are extremely hard on their joints, especially if they're having any sort of issues. Occasionally I have to longe my boy before riding, since he likes to throw in a buck or two when he hasn't been ridden in sometime - we use up the entire arena while he's on the line, so that he can be on the rail as much as possible.
Good luck, I hope you are able to get this all resolved quickly.
Oh I haven't been lunging her since the time it got really noticeable at the walk. Once that week of stall rest was up I've only been handwalking her in the field.
She turned 11 this year and since I got her (at 8) we've done mostly Hunter/Jumper, lots of flatwork and jumping. 3' was our usual, rarely went higher then that except for those fun puissance lessons. I've never had a problem with her before now.
I would be interested in what happened with this horse.
I too have a horse that is lame at the trot after pulling back while tied, I now use a tie ring that releases if he pulls back. Upon speaking with the veterinarian I believe that he pulled the shoulder out of socket because he was lame instantly and swinging his leg way out away from his body at a walk. I too have sought chiro and veterinary advice (my vet is qualified in both fields)
The vet adjusted him and then put him on b12 pellets which is a natural anti inflammatory and told me to ride him and strengthen him. He is fine at a walk, and can trot as long as it is a straight way. I cannot ride him in the arena or lunge him because he is very lame around the turns, with the shoulder on the inside of the curve. He would rather canter than trot. He's not as bad going the other way. We have been 4 months into this injury (Sept. 9, 2011)
We have a pond to ride around so for the past 3 months I've been lightly riding and strengthening him...sure to stop when he shows signs of discomfort.
I havent seen any improvement, so since the weather has gotten cold and it's difficult to ride him outside (the ground is soft and slippery around the pond) I've decided for the past month to rest him and just hand walk and stretch him for awhile. I rode him down the road for a short distance last week (after 2 weeks rest and hand walk) and he seemed to be feeling really good. I let him trot for a short way just to see if there was any improvement. He did not seem to be nearly as "gimpy" .... he's been back on rest since.
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