I recently posted a thread on my suspicion that my TWH mare suffered from low / negative plantar angles, and asked for advice. I'll put my original post below. I received a lot of useful observations and advice from several forum members, especially @gottatrot
. Here's an update. And I welcome all comments and advice:
1) I reviewed all videos I have of my mare "stumbling" / "dipping " (under saddle) with her hind legs - in super slo-mo. In every case where she stumbled or "dipped", it was clearly caused by the knuckle-over of either right or left hind foot, after she placed her foot toe-first. And this ONLY occurred in the ring (deep sand) - and never on flat surfaces (road or trail). From what I've read, this is a symptom of LPA.
2) I noticed swelling in both of her hind fetlocks over a month ago. And I now suspect this was partly - if not wholly - due to her low plantar angles (hopefully now improved through trimming), as well as her occasional knuckle-overs. The swelling is almost all gone now.
3) After over a month of stall rest - transitioned to pasture turn-out - the outward bowing of her hocks is almost all gone, and only occasionally appears when walking on a lunge line (in circles, of course). When I film her walking in straight lines, I see no bowing, although her hocks seem "tentative" when she places her feet. Wringing? Don't know. But I do know that she has sickle hocks, which is apparently common - and even desirable? - in some TWH's and even jumpers. I believe that the higher angles (now) of her hind hooves, and muscular development, will marginally reduce her sickle hocks as time goes by.
4) My mare still shows an occasional shorter LH stride, but this seems to be improving daily now.
5) I have no intention of training my mare for "big lick" work. She is flat shod, and will remain that way for life.
6) My vet diagnosed, treated, and cured (go ahead and disagree with the use of that last word) my previous horse with EPM, after which she became a not-too-shabby barrel racer, jumper, pole bender, cow-sorter, and all-around cantering, galloping, and "running walking" versatile athlete. So yes, my vets and I are well versed in the symptoms of EPM. My new filly does not show symptoms. My vets are also fairly sure that DLSD is not evidenced by what they've seen.
7) Based on the video evidence, and the last two vet's gait exams of my filly, my farrier and vets will Xray her hind feet next week. Following what they find (she's barefoot now), we'll proceed with neural blocking, further Xrays, and / or remedial shoeing as necessary.
I'll update further when I have news. I welcome input, and hope this and my past thread are of help to others in the future. Here's my original post below. "I bought a young TWH mare 5 months ago. When I looked her over, I noticed very long toes on all 4 hooves, very elongated hooves, almost no heel under coronet bands, and she had clearly not had any significant hoof care in months (lots of dead frog tissue and overgrown bars on soles). But when I took her for an easy ride in the ring, I didn't see or feel any problems.
I had her shoes removed for transport to my barn. Then I had my farrier trim her fronts (arrived with 45 degrees or sharper) and rears (arrived sharper than 50 degrees). My farrier trimmed her to increase the angles as much as we agreed was safe, trimmed her again 6 weeks later, then shod her again to allow her heels to grow out.
While riding her in the ring about a month ago - just flat walk or running walk, her hocks tended to bow outward (laterally), she would often take short strides with her left hind leg, and she would occasionally "dip" both hind legs - as though she suddenly lost strength. To me, it was obvious that she was in pain. Also: I noticed that her hind legs often appeared "stiff" when walking in the videos I took of her. And standing at rest, she often tended to "park-out" in a "sawhorse" posture. I have since learned that these are all symptoms of Low Plantar Angles. But she gives me no resistance when I manipulate her hind legs (no obvious signs of pain in fetlocks, hocks, or stifles).
I had my vet do a thorough gait exam. She basically determined that my mare had pain, but couldn't identify the specific area(s) - feet, fetlocks, hocks, stifles, or hips / pelvis.
I did some reading on low plantar angles, and am fairly convinced that that is the issue with my mare. I put her on stall rest, trimmed her two more times, and left her barefoot. Her last trim took her almost to what I believe are the ideal angles for her conformation (approx 50 deg in fronts and 56 deg in rears). She now has about an inch of heel under her coronet bands, her hoof walls seem to be gradually expanding, and hooves are more rounded (not elongated, as they were when I got her).
My question: I recently took her for a brief ride in the ring (flat walk and running walk) and filmed it. The bowing of her hocks is reduced - but not gone. The stride length of her left hind is only slightly shorter than right hind (and only intermittent). But I did see her do the hind-end "dip" thing twice in 15 minutes. So I know she still has some pain.
So my question is this, if anyone can answer it: Will it take very long for her pastern and canon bones (and ligaments) to adjust to her new feet (and, ideally, positive plantar angles)? She still shows some signs of pain, apparently. Should I keep her on stall rest a while longer?
FYI, she's still growing (has a much better diet, and appetite than when I got her), she's building bulk and developing muscle mass, and is on a supplement with MSM, Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Hyaloronic Acid, and Hydrolyzed Collagen).