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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My horses never cease to present me with learning opportunities (shall we call them). Of course, I expect them to perform at a high level so I guess problems are bound to show up.

Shotgun had a rockstar year in 2019, both in the barrel pen and in the show pen. Then he came up a little sore in the hocks and stifles toward the end of the year which didn't surprise me for how hard he had been running for me. It was late enough in the year that I decided to just quit him for the year, rather than inject his joints. Nothing serious was noted on xrays or ultrasound so my vet and I chalked it up to "normal" barrel horse soreness. He got the winter off and then we had lots of time to get legged up in 2020 because COVID canceled everything anyway.

I was disappointed that he only made it to the middle of June 2020 and he was sore in the hind end. I expected him to get sore at some point but not quite that early. So we headed to the vet, again, nothing alarming was noted so we injected his hocks and stifles, I got him some PEMF treatments, double checked with our chiro, etc etc. Went back to working and running good (although he still hadn't tapped into what he did in 2019) and I was again disappointed that he didn't even make it 3 months and his hind end was sore again. So okay, now I know something more is going on.

He had also been tripping more on his front end this year. He's always kinda done it, but I thought it was worse. He nearly went down on two barrel runs this year, due to stumbling. Vet spent a lot of time with him and it's his right front but hoof/foot/leg are fine, so it's higher up. He's always been a stiffer type horse so we really started looking closely at his neck. We xrayed it last fall and she thinks there are some mild changes (currently waiting some feedback from a neck specialist on the rads). Our theory is that his neck is bothering him so that he's not lifting that foot like he should, thus catching a toe and tripping. It would also explain his hind end lameness when he doesn't have much change there to support it.

I just had him back to the vet last week to try to start figuring some of this out. Thankfully, his back looked pretty decent on xray. Maybe one spot where they were a little close but not bad at all. So we decided to start with neck injections to C3, C4, and C5 and also gave him Osphos. She also sent me home with a few days of muscle relaxers for him.
We're seeing an osteopath on Saturday.
Then we'll hit up the chiro after that.
Then already scheduled to see the vet again in about a month and see what else we need to address.

He's gotten SO pushy in the bridle, and throwing his nose last year. He never used to be like that. I could ride him in a teeny little bit no problem - now I have no chance unless I have a bit port in his mouth, which I absolutely hate. I'm really, really, really hoping this helps him out.

Of course, pic attached of the goober.
Notice how he cocks his head? That's a big supporter of the neck issues. He tips his nose toward you but never his ears.

So maybe not much of a question here. Just long ramblings of trying to get Shotgun figured out.

Anyone else have a performance horse with neck issues? I was secretly hoping his back would look horrible for kissing spine and then I would have an answer and go get surgery and have him fixed, but that wasn't the case.
Frost Shotgun2.jpg
 

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You know I don't ride at the level you do, nothing like it. And I don't even own a horse. But, looking at the photo, I see that the neck seems very straight from out of the shoulder,,, then it bends toward the viewer only from the front part of the neck, with a 'tip' of the ears to the side. It may mean that there is something 'locked' either in his poll, or a couple of vertebrae back, that makes it hard for him to keep his face vertical while bending around to the side. meaning, no tipping of the ears to the side, and the nose to the other.

1110792
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Maybe I should have never created a thread..... Of course, here's a place to share my misery.

My vet got correspondence yesterday from a neck expert she sent his rads too. It's not good. Long story short, he most likely has spinal cord compression due to narrowing of the spinal canal because of significant structural asymmetry (one of the facets of each vertebrae are positioned more cranially than the other facet).

The neck injections we did might help if he has synovial effusion, to reduce the inflammation and take some pressure off the cord. If the injections don't help at all, then he likely has some spinal cord compression. Small chance that he just has pain due to the structural assymmetry (and not compression) but in my own opinion, I feel that that is not likely.

Specialist doesn't have the ability to do full imaging at her facility to confirm but offered one that could. At this point, I don't think it's worth it. I feel like the diagnosis is pretty undeniable.

I'm crushed. And I can't do anything for the poor boy. He's only 10. And sooooo talented.

I'm throwing my sucker in the dirt.........
 

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I hope the osteopath can help you. The ones I use are registered with the IREO (https://irequineosteo.org/usa/) & they are amazing. They have helped me find issues in my horse that no vet or chiro could. The issue could start higher up, & make its way down. Everything really does tie together. Best of luck to you, I know it's frustrating not having answers but it seems like you are doing all you can.

Just a suggestion, maybe you could try riding him bitless - it may help give him some relief. I ride my horse bitless now, only bitless, because she does have issues with her neck & Atlas/C1. The bitless is much more forgiving & she's way more comfortable in it. Who knows, your horse may like it too!
 

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So sorry to read this. I would wonder with as far as they have with the back that there would be some forward thinking progressive vets out there that are having success treating this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I hope the osteopath can help you. The ones I use are registered with the IREO (https://irequineosteo.org/usa/) & they are amazing. They have helped me find issues in my horse that no vet or chiro could. The issue could start higher up, & make its way down. Everything really does tie together. Best of luck to you, I know it's frustrating not having answers but it seems like you are doing all you can.

Just a suggestion, maybe you could try riding him bitless - it may help give him some relief. I ride my horse bitless now, only bitless, because she does have issues with her neck & Atlas/C1. The bitless is much more forgiving & she's way more comfortable in it. Who knows, your horse may like it too!
I am hoping the osteopath can help make him more comfortable but I'm obviously not expecting miracles because she can't change his anatomy.

He's uncomfortable either way, even being ponied from another horse in a halter. Poor guy has become a nose thrower (when he first gets going) and he never used to be like that.

So sorry to read this. I would wonder with as far as they have with the back that there would be some forward thinking progressive vets out there that are having success treating this.
For younger horses, they can sometimes do a surgery where they attach a metal plate to the vertebrae to stabilize them, but not for this or for his age.
Kissing spine surgery is also available .... which he doesn't have .... but not for this.
Unfortunately.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Very sorry to hear the news. I do appreciate that you shared all of this information, because it gives the rest of us more things to consider when we see horses having problems.
Quite truthfully, I've been feeling more like a failure with him last year because I had to go to bigger, and bigger bits to control his pushiness in the bridle. I couldn't understand why he's had this change and why I couldn't ride him in his usual bits I've used his whole life. I thought I must be doing something wrong or making some mistakes. I guess it makes me feel better from my training that I probably wasn't doing anything wrong, but he didn't know how else to express that what I was asking him to do, was hurting.

Or why we'd do slow work on the barrels, yet he still wouldn't turn the barrel like I want him to at speed. Poor guy was probably just doing the best he could.

Yes, it really makes you NEED to consider when a training issue is more than a training issue. I feel like I'm a hypochondriac sometimes with my horses, but clearly you have to trust your gut when you think something else is wrong.
 

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You knew it wasn't simple,, and it isn't. I'm not sure this applies, but facet joint issues can resolve if the joints eventually fuse, like how an arthritic hock fuses. Not sure if this would applly to your hrose, and the narrowing nerve canal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You knew it wasn't simple,, and it isn't. I'm not sure this applies, but facet joint issues can resolve if the joints eventually fuse, like how an arthritic hock fuses. Not sure if this would applly to your hrose, and the narrowing nerve canal.
He actually does not currently have any arthritis in the joints, and the inflammatory nature of arthritis is often what causes fusion, if we are talking about the hocks. Although fusion can occur with the mobile joints of the hock, it's not common, and usually happens in the "non-mobile" joints. With the neck being mobile, I can't see the body causing a fusion process like that, but I also am not speaking with any vet knowledge of that.

Correct, if he's got compression of the nerve from a narrow canal, fusion won't change that. If you've got nerve that's getting pinched off, problems will occur.
 
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