Riding a Lame Horse - ???

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Riding a Lame Horse - ???

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  • Is it ok to ride if slightly lame
  • Haven't ridden horse for a while and its lame

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    07-12-2012, 11:49 PM
Riding a Lame Horse - ???

I haven't been on HF for awhile. Actually, since getting my new horse, Nova, back in October last year. 2 wks and 2 days after I got her, she stepped on a nail.

5 weeks and countless remedies, soaking, antibiotics, etc later, euthanasia was recommended. 3 days before Christmas. My heart was broken.

Christmas Morning, she walked across the paddock on the injured foot. It had been 5 wks since she'd put any weight down!

Now, 8 1/2 months later, more soaking and some holistic and homeopathic remedies and a barefoot trimmer later, she is still lame. BUT. She is pasture sound and sometimes barely limps. I don't think she will ever be fully recuperated.

But then, I wondered, if it were possible to still ride her - lightly. Before anyone jumps at me, consider the following:
I have a Blue Heeler with a hip injury who runs like the devil. Sometimes she uses all 4 legs and other times, just three, when her hip hurts her too badly. Or she just runs funny.
I have a broken foot. I've had it for over 2 years because I refuse to have surgery on it. I can run but it's not pretty. Sometimes, I walk with a limp. I also have Rheumatoid Arthritis and hate taking medicine. So, often, I walk and move awkwardly from pain. But yet, I still function. I still pick up my 4 yr old daughter. I still ride, altho sometimes it hurts like....

So, is it possible to ride my girl - lightly. On the flat. At a walk (her speed before her injury was just a walk!)

I tested my theory for a few MINUTES the other day. When she got injured, I sold almost all my tack to help pay for her vet bills. I do not have a headstall. So, I put on her halter and used the lead rope to guide her (with my legs). First, I laid across her back (standing on a stump). Then, I laid across her back and let her move with me there. Then, I led her back and gently got on her and just let her walk where she wanted to go and moved her slightly to see how she would react. I had a harder time getting her to respond to the halter than her movement. She didn't hitch, didn't stumble. In fact. I didn't feel any difference in her movement at all - BUT - I wasn't making her move very fast.

I haven't been able to try again because I'm waiting on a "new" headstall to come (ordered one online) and it's been so danged hot. It's supposed to cool off a little next week and I'd like to try it again. I just wanted other people's opinions of riding a lame horse - how much/how often, etc.

PS: I'm 185#, 5-5. I ride bareback. So, there isn't any extra saddle weight. I am the same size I was when I got her - maybe 5-10 lbs heavier. She is 15h, 1200#+ Stocky Appy.
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    07-13-2012, 01:09 AM

Absolutely not. Never ride a lame horse. What if someone wanted you to carry a 60lb backpack on a sprained ankle? It would hurt and cause you to put more weight on your poor leg and cause other problems elsewhere.

Leave her in pasture if she cannot be helped further.

Find another horse to ride.
    07-13-2012, 01:32 AM
Why does the vet say she will never be more than pasture sound? Have xrays been taken? If the structural part has fully healed, but there is still pain, you could consider a nerve block.

I think it depends on the reason for the horse moving in an "off" manner.
DimSum likes this.
    07-13-2012, 02:05 AM
I don't think it would be fair to the horse. If she's limping there's an issue. Animals are willing to often do very normal things even though they're in pain - that doesn't mean that they're not in pain. They don't have the mental capacity to associate not doing whatever it is that's causing them pain. Humans can opt out of doing something that's hurting too much or even tone it down. Your horse doesn't have the capacity to say "Let's skip the ride today because my foot REALLY hurts" nor can she say "Let's go for a walk, I'm ouchy but I'd like to stretch my legs" and you certainly don't have a way of knowing what level of discomfort she's actually in. Riding her is really just ignoring her discomfort because you want to get some saddle time. Is it fair to make you run on a day your foot is hurting you really badly? What about making you run on a day your foot is hurting you really badly and taking away your ability to tamp down your level of exertion to a more comfortable level AND taking away your ability to complain about it at all outside of a limp?

I think you should have the foot xrayed and talk to the vet. Since it was a nail, something on the inside of her hoof could have been shoved out of position. But no, definitely no ridng.
    07-13-2012, 02:21 AM
The nail could have damaged the coffin bone, and other small bones in the foot.
Is the wound healed or still slightly open? Make sure your pasture is dry before her out to graze. She may limp the rest of her life or She may just need more time. You could see how hand walking on level ground start slow 3-5 min and if she improves you can work up from there. If she gets worse, stop. I would not ride until the limp is gone.
    07-18-2012, 07:37 AM
No way, no how would I ride until I had the vet out to do xrays given her history.
    07-18-2012, 08:11 AM
I'd consult the veterinarian for a professional assessment. If the vet feels its okay to return to some light duty, then you can. If the vet advises against it, don't.

Some horses that have been injured simply always have a bit of a hitch in their movements. Others are reacting to pain with every step. You need to determine what exactly her condition is and decide from there.
Celeste likes this.
    07-19-2012, 01:33 PM
Absolutely not. My boy pulled a tendon and finally made it to pasture sound. He still have a very long ways to go, but you won't find me out side lunging him in a round pen in the meantime. Put your girl out to pasture and get a new riding horse.
    07-21-2012, 05:08 AM
The difference between you and your horse is that you can decide when you've had enough, and she can't. Horses tend to be very stoic when it comes to pain. And mares will give more of themselves than geldings (general statement which is not always true).

Was it the vet who recommended euthanasia?

What tests did the vet do when this happened?

Has the vet seen her recently?
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    07-21-2012, 09:17 AM
Have you have a good farrier. This holistic stuff can go only so far. Most of the "barefoot" trimmers have little formal education and don't serve the lengthy apprenticeship that the farrier does. You never hear of a vet working hand in hand with a trimmer, only a good farrier who really knows his stuff.

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