The Horse Forum banner

1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone


This story is quite long and complicated, so I'll try to cut it down a bit.
I bought my gelding as a fairly well trained 5 year old warmblood, about 17.1 hh.

During his pre-purchase examination by the vet, it was remarked that his front hooves were slightly different in size, but neither i nor the vet deemed it as being too serious. So I brought him home in January 2019. He lacked a lot of muscle, but I was pretty confident in my ability to build his topline. Flash forward a month, to February, he seems to be uncomfortable with his saddle, so I get a saddle fitter out to check it. I'm told that he is extremely asymmetrical in his musculature, as the fitter measured his shoulder to be 4 cm smaller than the other.
He has ongoing problems with his stomach, he seems to be very sensitive and has frequent diarrhoea.

We move to a different place in the fall of 2019, and here he suddenly drops weight (and he was already very skinny), and no matter how much i feed him, he seems to be constantly ravenous, and keeps losing weight.
Several times, I notice that the hay I prepare for him, that the staff was supposed to give in the evenings, has not been given at all. I suspect that this is the reason for his weight loss, and we promptly move away from this place.
But, in connection with his weight dropping, he gets a very visible roach back - I have never noticed this on him before now.
We get a really good trainer and give him the best feed we can find, yet he does not seem to gain much muscle at all. He is still very skinny with very little muscle. He gets several sessions of physiotherapy, and every time I'm told that he is tense through most of his body, but especially in his back, and his lumbar region is blocked. This is worked on by the physiotherapist, but it never works in the long run - even with the appropriate training, feeding and care.


I finally get enough of the inefficient physiotherapy, as it's clear that something more must be done, and I call an osteopath and vet, who I've heard has helped horses with similar problems.

At this point the horse is 7 years old, and he still looks terrible in terms of his topline and general weight. His hind leg action is non-existent, and he almost drags himself around.

The vet comes out and goes through the whole horse.

She tells me that he is extremely tense through his entire back, blocked (again) in his lumbar region, as well as in his neck and shoulder. She does a rectal exam, and finds that his stomach seems to be very painful - even with pain killers and while sedated, my horse tries to kick the vet many times.
The osteopath/vet finally says that his issue seems to be post-castration problems, mainly that his spermatic cord (not sure if this is the right word for it, it's translated from my main language) has healed and attached in a position that is "too tight" for him to effectively use his hind legs - and this has caused his issues. She says that it can be fixed with surgery, but as the area is already so painful for him, she believes that surgery could potentially just increase the pain. She says that she can loosen it and solve the problem with another session in 6 weeks, and meanwhile he will get a break from riding, and I will do some exercises with him.

The initial treatment was on October 1st, and the first week he seemed to be doing better, everything was going according to plan. Then, on the 7th, I arrive to a horse that i hardly recognize - he seems dull, depressed and uninterested, almost like I can't reach him.

The following days he seems better, but then, around the 20th, he gets very bad. He starts biting at me when I touch him, but it's not so bad at first. He gets increasingly worse, biting very aggressively, with the clear purpose of actually hurting me, he kicks out at me and pins his ears. This does not happen when i brush him and pick his hooves, but when i put my hands on his body and touch him - he really hates being touched around the stomach, both underneath and on the sides, but also doesn't want me touching his shoulder, his back or the area between his front legs. For my own safety, I have to stop doing the exercises with him, as he gets outright dangerous.



This horse has always been an angel, he has never even pinned his ears at me before this. Which i find especially concerning, when the vet informed me that he has been in quite a lot of pain for all this time - and yet he has never been aggressive.

Not to mention he recently attacked another horse while outside, he cornered the poor thing, and repeatedly kicked at it, while keeping it stuck in the corner.

He also has almost constant diarrhoea, but seems to be eating normally. He is not gaining weight at all, despite eating a lot of hay and getting an appropriate amount of feed with oil in it (we hoped it would help him gain weight).
When I lunge him, he gets very strong and refuses to bend into the circle, he drags on his cavesson so hard, that it becomes crooked almost immediately. When i release the pressure to try and help him, he almost crashes into the fence that surrounds the arena, it's very strange to me. It's almost like he can't really coordinate on his own?

There is no doubt in my mind that he is in a lot of pain, but upon talking to the same vet, she almost brushes his behaviour off, saying that it's probably because his hay is too fermented for his sensitive stomach, and that i should get something drier for him to eat (I'm in the process of doing just that).





This seems a lot more serious than just a matter of hay, as he has eaten this exact kind of hay many many times before. I don't recognize my horse at all anymore, and I'm seriously concerned for him.

Any ideas about what this might be?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
22,839 Posts
Hi,



your horse is obviously in a severely bad way and has been so chronically. Sounds like he needs urgent help now as he may be getting 'beyond repair'. Do you have a good veterinary hospital or equine rehabilitation centre about, that you can take him to, for the 'intensive care' it sounds like he desperately needs now? I'd make it a priority to get him into somewhere like that urgently, if at all possible.

seems to be uncomfortable with his saddle, so I get a saddle fitter out to check it. I'm told that he is extremely asymmetrical in his musculature, as the fitter measured his shoulder to be 4 cm smaller than the other.
He has ongoing problems with his stomach, he seems to be very sensitive and has frequent diarrhoea.
Saddle fitting & riding should be the very last thing on your mind with this horse. But don't know how long ago/what condition he was in when this was done. Was he skinny then too? If he was skinny when fitted, he shouldn't have been ridden - perhaps shouldn't have been worked at all, depending what's wrong/severity - until he had gained condition sufficiently & def shouldn't have been fitted for a saddle in that condition, as it will not allow for muscles to develop, so perpetuate/worsen any structural damage.

If he's 'wonky', he's going to be uncomfortable under you, and while if it's truly conformational(as in, he has actual structural deformities, actually has a bigger scapula on one side or some such), it may be necessary to have a saddle fitted carefully to that deformed shape, more commonly imbalances are due to body issues/injuries, and fitting a saddle to that imbalance will only perpetuate and often worsen it.

Diet, nutrition, feeding practices and resulting ulcers(sounds like he likely has those & from before you got him) are a common cause of 'sensitivity' around the stomach, of diarrhea, of 'failure to thrive', colic & many other issues. What has the vet advised about all that(apart from the fermented hay comment)? Has he been scoped &/or treated for stomach ulcers? Is he being treated(herbal is best IMO) for hind gut ulcers? I'd speak to a good equine vet about treating medically for stomach ulcers as well as looking into 'gut support' supps & herbs(liquorice & aloe are good ones), to try to get his gut healed & healthy. I'd enlist the help of a qualified equine nutritionist as part of that - vets are not necessarily specialised or particularly knowledgeable about nutrition & digestion.

What are you feeding him exactly & how much, how often? Grain & other 'high carb' ingredients are not great for horses generally & esp for an already unhealthy digestive system, so I'd avoid. Feeding large, rich, &/or infrequent 'meals' can cause/worsen gut problems too. Small supplementary feeds, as often as possible are best - 3 times daily absolute minimum for a 'sensitive gut'. Horse's stomachs are small & they empty quickly. That is where the enzymes necessary for digestion of rich & starchy ingredients are, and when to large/too starchy or rich feeds are given, particularly if infrequently, the stomach can't do the job properly, so feed passes thru to the 'hind gut' undigested, where it causes die off of good bacteria needed to digest the rest of the diet(IOW you can effectively 'starve' a horse by feeding too much!), acidosis, colic, ulcers, diarrhea, 'failure to thrive', etc.

We move to a different place in the fall of 2019, and here he suddenly drops weight (and he was already very skinny), and no matter how much i feed him, he seems to be constantly ravenous, and keeps losing weight.
Several times, I notice that the hay I prepare for him, that the staff was supposed to give in the evenings, has not been given at all. I suspect that this is the reason for his weight loss, and we promptly move away from this place.
Good that you moved him then. I hope where he is now he gets free choice hay? Periods of having an empty stomach will make ulcers a lot worse. So he was already 'very skinny' over a year ago, before he 'suddenly dropped weight'. What did you do then, aside from move him? That, if not well before, as he was already 'very skinny', should have been the point where you got very serious about finding the answers for him.

But, in connection with his weight dropping, he gets a very visible roach back - I have never noticed this on him before now.
As there is a natural dip behind the lumbar spine, a very thin horse can look a bit 'roachy', but it may be 'just' lack of condition(& such a severe lack that you shouldn't be riding/working a horse in this poor condition), but maybe he also has 'kissing spine' or any other body issue that has caused his spine to 'roach'. Who knows, without having him thoroughly checked out.
several sessions of physiotherapy, and every time I'm told that he is tense through most of his body, but especially in his back, and his lumbar region is blocked. This is worked on by the physiotherapist, but it never works in the long run
Sounds like his general state of health/condition is FAR more desperate than body issues at this point, but...
As it sounds like you've done, I'd continue exploring other options then. A (good) physio can be a great help, but if it's not a 'physio' kind of issue... I'd personally start with a veterinary chiropractor(registered, fully trained, as they come... otherwise endowed) if possible, or a cranio sacral practitioner. Never heard of the issue about the post castration probs, but I'd be looking into other(professional) opinions on that & otherwise pretty seriously. If that is indeed an issue, it sounds like it's only one part of it & there's a lot of other stuff going on too.

This horse has always been an angel, he has never even pinned his ears at me before this. Which i find especially concerning, when the vet informed me that he has been in quite a lot of pain for all this time - and yet he has never been aggressive.
Horses are so giving & so good at just putting up with a lot more than is good for them. He would have been trying to communicate to you previously, but you obviously did not 'hear'. It sounds like this poor horse is in an extremely bad way & that he's finally reached 'breaking point' behaviourally too, so is feeling the need now to 'shout' about it.

When I lunge him,
DO NOT LUNGE HIM! DO NOT RIDE HIM! DO NOT WORK HIM AT ALL!!! It is absolutely totally unreasonable that you would even consider doing so at this point. This horse is suffering severely! Seriously! Has been suffering for at least the nearly 2 years you've owned him, has been in a desperate way for well over a year at least, by the sound of it. If you were literally starved, in pain, can hardly use your legs, how would you like to be made to go for a jog(or even walk) around the block??! Have some consideration for his feelings, as well as the likelihood that your working him will be worsening the physical issues.

I realise this sounds harsh, but - I hope I'm mistaken & you've just expressed yourself wrongly - it seems you just don't get/aren't taking seriously the condition your horse is in. Actually sounds like he's 'on his last legs' & has been going steadily down hill for a long time, and yet you are working him. He needs intensive care. NOW!

but upon talking to the same vet, she almost brushes his behaviour off, saying that it's probably because his hay is too fermented for his sensitive stomach, and that i should get something drier for him to eat (I'm in the process of doing just that).
Huh?? Were you feeding fermented hay? As in silage or such? Yeah, that's not good. Don't forget, 'GP' vets aren't necessarily particularly knowledgeable on nutrition tho, or body issues, or other specialised areas, unless they have specialised, done further courses in them. As said, I'd be consulting a qualified equine nutritionist on his feeding, along with chiro vet & other pro's. NOW!

It is URGENT that you 'pull all the stops' and get him the help he desperately needs. Or, if you can't do whatever is needed to stop him suffering ASAP & get him healthy, please don't continue allowing him to suffer - you need to seriously consider ending his suffering the other way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48,585 Posts
Does anyone here remember the health issue that Wallaby had with her gelding? It almost sounds similar in that that horse could barely endure to be touched at all. It was a metabolic disorder, as I recall.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
954 Posts
The osteopath/vet finally says that his issue seems to be post-castration problems, mainly that his spermatic cord (not sure if this is the right word for it, it's translated from my main language) has healed and attached in a position that is "too tight" for him to effectively use his hind legs - and this has caused his issues. She says that it can be fixed with surgery, but as the area is already so painful for him, she believes that surgery could potentially just increase the pain. She says that she can loosen it and solve the problem with another session in 6 weeks, and meanwhile he will get a break from riding, and I will do some exercises with him.
There is a user on here whose horse had this or a similar operation done - though it sounded a lot less severe than what you are dealing with - but I figure a "more severe" case would benefit from surgery moreso than physio.
 
  • Like
Reactions: loosie

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
22,839 Posts
No, don't recall Tiny. But there are a number of things that can cause someone to be sensitive to even light touch. Magnesium deficiency is one, IR is another, hormonal imbalance, etc.

I got the idea though that ulcers & other pain has just got too much for him to put up with anything much at all, without 'shouting' now tho.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,164 Posts
I think Loosie's advice is topnotch and can only reiterate for you to GET ANOTHER VET, preferably maybe a vet school, Chiropractor, Xrays, Ultrasounds and such done to figure out what all is wrong with this poor horse and to get a start on fixing what can be fixed. He's in a lot of pain, that much is clear, but it sounds whole body - wide and not localized. Or failing being able to do any of that, I understand some places aren't as blessed with resources as others, then plan to put him down soon to get him out of his misery, preferably before he hurts or kills somebody because he just can't take it anymore. And again, DON'T TRY TO LUNGE OR WORK THIS HORSE IN ANY FASHION.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,865 Posts
I'd want the vet to be running some serious tests on this horse. Xrays, bloodwork, metabolic disorders, Lyme, everything and anything that could cause some of these symptoms. This sounds like a whole body issue, not just a lack of muscle or something slightly out of place. I agree with @loosie, at this point, I think you need to get your horse into a veterinary hospital. There is a lot going on here, and this horse is in very bad shape and has been for some time. It won't be cheap, but I'd want to know exactly what I'm dealing with if it were me - and find out if it can actually be treated. It sounds like the last vet thought he had found the source of the problem, but your horse is getting worse, so he either has to re-assess or change his treatment plan, or you have to find another vet.

It does sound you've tried really hard to figure this out and are trying to reach out for ideas. I know how frustrating it can be, but persist a little longer. Otherwise, you are just throwing superficial remedies at this horse that aren't addressing the underlying problem.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
I know someone who had a gelding scar tissue problem with their horse which I'm thinking is what it sounds like your vet thinks? They had a procedure done to release it (a few other friends have had the same thing done as well since that person's issue) and it has completely changed their horse.

They didn't have the issues with the muscle development/size differences though. Just mostly behavior and ulcer like symptoms. Sounds like you might have more than one problem going on.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
35,667 Posts
Your vet is letting you down badly, you need to find one that is willing to just do the basics and not dismiss things so flippantly.

My first thought would be ulcers and it won't hurt to treat for them, an antacid and a buffer would give some relief if the horse has ulcers and not hurt if he doesn't.

Soaked sugar beet is rich in pectin so would help as a buffer.

Encysted worms can cause diarrhea, anemia, weight loss, pain and colic. When did you last use a moxidectin based dewormer?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Did not lunge/ride

I think you misunderstood, loosie, I wouldn't even dream of lunging/riding him right now. Up until the 3 weeks after his treatment, around the 20-21st of October, I did as the vet/osteopath told me to; I did his little exercises to help his body recover, and only did VERY light and slow lunging - all this stopped the moment I sensed he was off.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
I have contacted the vet about this.

He is not being exercised in any way, he gets some time in a small paddock every day, that's it - he still loves carrots, so just keep him company and give him treats atm.
He was dewormed at the end of September, and I've kept up with checking for and potentially treating worms for all the time I've had him.


To clarify: when I bought him he was skinny, but not skin and bones skinny - he seemed like a young, untrained horse, very much lacking in muscle. He cleared the pre-purchase vet check too - I figured he just needed the proper training and feed.



On top of everything else, he was treated by another vet with acupuncture multiple times, from spring 2019 to winter 2019 - this vet also didn't catch on to anything serious going on.

We've worked with professional trainers, and he has always been remarked as "skinny, lacking muscle", but never severely skinny - he couldn't seem to build a topline.

In the summer of 2019, he was looking nicer than when I got him, had put on muscle and weight. But then he dropped suddenly in weight, as I described, and he was constantly hungry (we fed him a lot - but not too much - whenever we were in the stable, we moved stables after deworming him, and he seemed to stop dropping weight so drastically).



The "fermented hay" I'm speaking of is a kind of direct translation of the kind of hay he gets - I live in Denmark, so there is a bit of a language barrier here - I worded it in a way that isn't really understandable, sorry ahah.

It's very commonly used here, (maybe describing it as moist would be more accurate?) it has higher nutritional value, but it is not uncommon for horses to have trouble digesting it.



About the things he gets to eat: he currently gets a special kind of feed, geared for horses that get hot from too much grain, so low in sugar and carbs - this is spread out over 10 times a day (every stall has an automatic feeding system) and he gets all the hay he can eat.





Also, loosie, I am fully aware of how severe his condition is, but between a vet suggesting I "wait and see" and the owner of the stable suggesting I "ride it out of him" (absolutely horrendous, I can't even believe she would suggest this), I felt very conflicted and unsure; for reference, I'm 18 and all alone in this, I haven't experienced anything like this before - it has been very hard to navigate in all the conflicting opinions, and an actual vet treating me like I'm just being dramatic.



Like several of you have said, I'm prepared that this might end very badly for him. I have feared it for the last week, but I was made to feel like I was overreacting and being dramatic.

Hope this gives some answers, if not, just send me another question.


Thank you all for all the replies!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Oh and about surgery for his post-castration problem; the vet advised against it, because that area is already very painful for him, so surgery would most likely result in continuing/more pain.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,254 Posts
Wallaby's horse had pssm.
PSSM is known to be in Warmbloods and would be something worth checking into, since this problem has been worsening as the horse ages and the workload increased. It may only be one piece of the problem, but it could be a significant underlaying cause of what is happening.

It's very commonly used here, (maybe describing it as moist would be more accurate?) it has higher nutritional value, but it is not uncommon for horses to have trouble digesting it.
This sounds like what we would call "haylage." Is your horse still eating it? If so, changing him over to normal hay might help if ulcers are a component of the issue. [Your English is excellent! I don't think this communication issue is poor word choice on your part so much as the fact the US doesn't generally feed haylage so its not a product we are familiar with.]

Oh and about surgery for his post-castration problem; the vet advised against it, because that area is already very painful for him, so surgery would most likely result in continuing/more pain.
This seems odd to me and would be yet another reason I would find another vet - or even better, a veterinary hospital - to see my horse. Is there a trainer or other well-respected professional at your barn that you can seek advice from about finding another vet for a second opinion? I am sure having to face all this on your own is very daunting.

I would want to ask this new vet about ulcers very specifically and if the horse was mine, I would likely treat the horse even if I couldn't afford to scope first. I would also see about basic bloodwork and pssm testing - something is going on and your current vet hasn't found it. I hope you can get your horse feeling better!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
83 Posts
I don't have any advice but stay strong and fight the good fight for your horse <3 <3 we are here to support you
 
  • Like
Reactions: knightrider
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top