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64 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi! My TWH, Finn, is 14 years old and I've had him for a year. He's been lame for the past month and a half and no one I've brought out can give me a straight answer. There is no swelling, no heat, and no pulse. He does not have any accesses, bruises, bad cracks, or deep thrush. There is not a definite limb that I'm noticing it on. Just his fore body in general, no idea if it's upper or lower. He has no history of lameness, isn't worked very hard but is kept in good shape. It might be good to mention that he gallops all over the pasture, and is fine in a straight line, and mostly fine clock-wise.

He originally was shod on his front feet, but after him taking his own shoes off in the pasture several times we decided to try to go barefoot. He did great. Then there was a series of days where the weather was quite nice, so I rode him Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Nothing crazy. Light trail riding. Friday I was too tired to do anything with him, but when I lunged him Saturday, I noticed him limping counterclock-wise in the pen. This went on for a couple of days before I started to get really worried. I thought it made sense that we took his shoes off and then he got sore... so we got him shod again. No improvement at all.

The farrier (and a few other people as well) said that it's possible our round pen was too small. Since gaited horses have a harder time moving in a small circle, it made sense to me. He said that turning on the same limbs over and over again could have hurt his tendons, making him sore from making sharp turns. He suggested making the pen bigger and said that it might fix itself with light work. He also said that Finn doesn't have the best conformation, which could play a part.

We contacted his previous owner who said to put him on stall rest for a couple of weeks and wait for it to heal itself. They said that it could be a small injury, but that by working him, it could get much worse, and that to try again in a couple of weeks until he's gotten some rest. They also suggested making the pen bigger but didn't push it.

We got a second farrier out who didn't think it was the pen at all. She said that he doesn't have ANY external indications as to why he could be lame. Said he has good conformation and is not super overweight as to have foundered from the grass. She suggested riding him very lightly, just walks, and exercising the tendons in his front legs. Her theory was that he did something dumb in the pasture and pulled a tendon. She specifically said not to work him in a circle anymore though, and not to lunge him.

Then some people I work with at a barn said that gaited horses have a lot of issues, especially in their tendons and hind quarters. They said that Walking Horses usually get retired early because of issues like this. It might be good to mention that although he's gaited, he does trot under saddle if I ask him to. This is something we started working on recently. Is there any way at all that that could be the issue? Doing such a different gait under saddle? Could it affect him like that? None of my trainers said anything like that, they helped me improve his trot and his balance and encouraged that he learn it.

We weren't sure where to start so we made the pen significantly bigger since a lot of people suggested it. He did pretty well at first, and I thought he would continue to get better. But he's only gotten worse. I rode him once, (trying to just walk him) but he had a lot of energy, and I wasn't sure if it was because he was bored with walking or if he was being defiant since I couldn't lunge him. I lunged him afterwards because he had acted up on the trail and he did absolutely fine. Cantered all over the place with ease to get the energy out. I thought he was okay...? But at this point I didn't know what to think at all.

So many conflicting opinions and ideas and theories. I've been studying him for so long that I just can't look at him anymore without getting a migraine. We haven't taken him to the vet yet (because of the costs 馃槶) because I was hoping someone else's idea could help before doing so. I'm so tired of trying and testing. Because there's no obvious signs, we would have to get an X-Ray, which the farrier said might not even show anything. All it could do is rule out that the problem is arthritis. I got a bag of Bute-Less wondering if it could help him but I just don't know. Before I hand over my credit card to the vet, does ANYONE know what could be causing this? How I can help him? Is it permanent? Do I just have to retire him? I'm sick and tired of the anxiety and stress over the who, what, when, where, and why of his lameness. Thank you immensely for sticking to the end! Great job! 馃槀馃槶 Any ideas... I just want this to be over already. If he has to retire... so be it, he's only 14. I just need to know what the next step is. I feel so lost.

64 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ok. Absolutely I will call the vet. It just makes so much more sense than guessing. I'll stop working him in the meantime and just let him be a pasture buddy. Hopefully he can make a recovery on whatever it is. My guess is also a pulled tendon. Thank you all! I'll let you know when the appointment is.

64 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
OP, sounds like you don't have any experience with a lameness examination with a qualified performance vet .... and that's okay. Calm down. Yes, you are going to spend some money (most likely) but horses are a luxury item and they are expensive. Don't jump to conclusions about retiring your horse. That's pretty extreme. (This is why you don't ask friends for medical advice!!)

In the future, yes, the farrier can be a source of information but they are only 1 piece of the TEAM you should have for your horses. You also need to enlist the help of other professionals.

So when you schedule the appointment with the vet, make sure it is a vet that is qualified with lameness. Do not call a general all-animal vet. Find one that does horses only.
First the vet will examine your horse moving in a circle (both direction) and a straight line, usually at the trot. The vet will also do what's called flexions on each limb and then trot the horse off. This helps determine where the problem (or problems) might be. Horses are complex and sometimes it's more than one problem!
After that point, the vet will make a recommendation on where they think the problem is and what diagnostic testing would make the most sense to perform, whether it be xrays or ultrasound or whatever equipment the vet has available. And which limb to examine.
When the vet has a better idea of what's going on, then they can decide a treatment plan.
For example, if it's arthritis, that's going to respond best by exercise (and will be made worse by stall rest).
If there is a tendon or ligament injury, then it will respond best by stall rest (and made worse by exercise).

Based on the information you have provided, my guess would be heel pain or similar in the front feet. But again, that's a sheer guess just going of your descriptions without seeing the horse move. Usually a severe tendon or ligament injury will have external signs (some sort of bump or swelling somewhere)... but not always.

It could also be important to make sure the farrier is doing a good job with your horse. That can cause lameness issues if not done right.

Can you post good pictures of his feet?
Thank you for enlightening me on the process!! It seems so much clearer now. No, I haven't ever dealt with lameness and I know a lot of people who have had it be permanent in their horse. The second farrier said that our original farrier did leave his hooves a bit long, which I agreed with. But she said that it has nothing to do with the hoof itself, that theres no cracks, bruises, absesses, or deep thrush that she can see that would be causing the problem. I will take some pictures of his feet and upload it when I get a chance. I want to say it's been maybe the shorter side of a month since he's been trimmed and shod. Is anyone familiar with East Tennessee Veterinary Hospital in Greeneville TN? They are not specialized in just horses, but they are an equine vet. I took Finn there last year to get his teeth floated and some shots done. It's the only one near me within a reasonable distance. I did a search and I dont think theres an equine lameness specialist in the state. Any suggestions from anyone in the same area?

64 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
There are very few things that are permanent.
I even sold a horse last year who I had to retire from barrel racing and performance events because we discovered he was born with crooked vertebrae in his neck which were compressing his spinal cord. That sucked. But I knew of a lovely family that I sold him to that were looking for a solid safe leisure trail riding horse. He's perfect. They love him. Of course, they are 100% aware of his medical issue. But he's made a very successful transition to his second career.

I've had horses nearly cut limbs off. Sometimes made a full recovery. Sometimes not. But again, usually still able to be used/ridden in some way.

I'm not saying there aren't things that aren't worthy of total retirement, because they are out there. But it also seems like a lot of people aren't willing to do what it takes and spend the money to help the horse be comfortable. Because surely, some issues are expensive.

But for example, if he would happen to have heel pain, leaving those toes long is one of the worst things you can do and OVER TIME will make an issue become a worse issue.
The saying goes = no hoof, no horse!!

What is his current schedule? How many weeks between trims?

I just did a Google search on that one. Hmmmm, I don't think I would take my horse there. They sounds more like a general vet practice. To be sure, I would call and ask them if any of their vets can do an equine lameness evaluation, and if they can do equine joint injections (just a very particular service ... if they say "no" to that, then def don't go there!) I'll bet though they don't do those things, based on what their website lists.

I drive 2 hours to see my usual vet (she is a lameness specialist).
I have driven 6 hours before to a specialist.
Sometimes you have to go where the experts are if you want answers.

I just did a google search for you. There is Tennessee Equine Hospital near Nashville. They are "horses only" and seem to have a wide variety of lameness services.
I have no idea where you live or how far you are willing to drive.
He usually gets trimmed every 6-7 weeks, though the farrier is yet to contact me with a date. I will definitely call this vet up and ask if they have any specialists to examine him like that (hopefully they do) and I guess we'll go from there. We're four hours away from Nashville and unfortunately that's just too far for us. I'll look into it though and see how much they charge to come all the way out here. I'll let you know what they say.

64 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Horse Leg Dog Working animal Dog breed
Plant Wood Trunk Sculpture Grass
Footwear Hand Plant Leg People in nature

Plant Grass Fawn Camelid Adaptation

Did you happend to video him moving? Could you? without causing him to move a lot in a small circle Is it at all gaits? have you palpated his back ?
I can grab a video of him lunging tomorrow if you would like. He is absolutely fine at the walk, bobs his head and limps at the trot, and I haven't tried to canter him for fear of further injury. Here are the photos of his hooves, his back definitely look shorter than the front. He has a crack on his front right but farrier said it shouldnt be affecting him like that, especially now that he's shod.

Footwear Hand Plant Leg People in nature

Plant Wood Trunk Sculpture Grass

64 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Your horses stance say he hurts and more than just a little...
Its time to go find a vet and get the animal some diagnostics...

Has he only gone lame since his shoes were put on by this farrier?
There is a chance he is hot nailed, to close to a nerve happened.... it happens.
If it is that then he needs to have the offending nail removed and care to stop a infection in the hoof from ongoing.
But you must know and that means pictures taken after a exam takes place...
Finn is a prime age for many things to be going on, guessing is not getting you answers and Finn needs answers so he can feel better.
Get a vet appointment and either they come to you or you go to them...
Yes, we鈥檙e going to call tomorrow since no one is open on weekends. We鈥檙e going to ask the vet in Greeneville if they do lameness evaluations, and if not, we can call John Freeland as he is an hour and 45 minutes away, much more reasonable than Nashville. We鈥檒l see what his prices are and if he comes out to patients and if he鈥檚 even taking any new patients.

To answer your question, he became lame after this farrier鈥檚 first trim on him. He had shoes prior but we decided to see how he鈥檇 do barefoot so we only trimmed him. It was then that he was lame so we thought it made sense to put the shoes back on him. We thought taking off the shoes was the cause. The shoes didn鈥檛 help and we plan on taking them off with his next trim. The second farrier said that it doesn鈥檛 seem to be anything with the hoof. She said the angle looks fine and that her only concern is that the first farrier left them a bit long.

So at the barn I work at, there鈥檚 a quarter horse with navicular. She seems to have the same symptoms as Finn... no swelling, no heat, no pulse, no abscesses or bruises, and no injuries. She is fine in a straight line but lame on a circle, worse so on a certain side, just like Finn. I know quarter horses are prone to getting it, but is it possible Finn has it as well? Just a thought.
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