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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just need to get this written down somewhere so I can stop worrying so much.

Yesterday I went out to ride my mare. Sometimes I trot her in hand to the arena so I can see how she's moving, and I distinctly remember she looked perfectly sound. When I got on, she was fine at the walk. As soon as we picked up the trot, she didn't feel right, so I hopped off and trotted her in hand again - obviously lame on the front right. Didn't show it at the walk. I looked all up and down that leg and hoof and saw nothing obvious. I turned her back out - she was still acting her normal self, but definitely a bit uncomfortable turning on that leg.

One time she had a weird incident similar to this and she was completely fine by the next day, so I didn't really worry about it. However, when I went back today, she was visibly lame and head bobbing at the walk, still front right. She puts a lot of effort to keep it off the ground while turning. While standing still, she would hold it flat against the ground square under her like it didn't bother her at all. I looked all up and down her leg and hoof again, still nothing. No heat, no obvious bruises (however this hoof IS dark and I could have missed something), no injuries or swelling. She let me pick the leg up and manipulate each joint in all sorts of ways, and she showed no signs of discomfort when I did this.

Conveniently, the farrier is already scheduled to come out Thursday so I will have him take a thorough look with professional eyes. Maybe find an abscess while he's trimming.

The other time something similar to this happened a few months ago. She was trimmed the same morning, perfectly sound. Ridden afterwards, perfectly sound. Bathed, perfectly sound. Walking back to the pasture, perfectly sound. The second I'm about to let her go: dead lame on the right hind, nearly non-weight-bearing. She didn't even want to walk. Again, I looked her leg all up and down and didn't find anything, not even a stray pebble in her hoof. I let the farrier know and he said she may have gotten a stone bruise or abscess and since he had just been here the same day, he offered to come out the next day for free to have a look. Well, I got there the next day, and she was 100% sound again. Very strange. I was hoping this weekend's incident would have the same outcome, but right now it's not looking like it.

Anyone have similar experiences or any input? I just left a voicemail for the vet for her annual visit (also conveniently timed) with no call back yet but regardless she will also be seeing the vet soon.
 

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Since it's not consistently the same leg I wonder if she has a systemic metabolic issue such as PSSM (though PSSM usually presents with tying-up rather than sudden random lameness)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
@blue eyed pony, thanks for the response. I'm not quite sure if that would explain it either: she has never presented any symptoms of tying-up. She loves to move, and during rides I can almost hear her wishing I'd just let her gallop for half an hour!

I'm unsure if the incident months ago has anything to do with this weekend's. It seems like the one a few months ago was just some very strange fluke. Also, most walkways here are coarse gravel, so might she have stung herself on the footing in both instances? The walkway to the arena is not gravel but it used to be, so there is an occasional stray stone she may have stepped on yesterday. I would have suspected, though, if she also bruised herself the first time, she wouldn't have gone from dead lame to perfectly sound in less than 24 hours? Perhaps this time is from a bruise I didn't catch that will actually take a week or so to heal like bruises normally do.

I might be worrying a lot over something small and simple. Since I work at a vet clinic, my overactive mind often jumps to the worst - "Call the vet for rads? Is it chronic? Will the rest of her life be spent in pain? Will she become a pasture pet at 10 years old?" - because the few bad outcomes I see usually mentally override the many good outcomes. Hopefully the farrier will offer me some clarity soon.
 

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Wintertime and sudden rains/wet ground bring abscesses and sudden hopping lameness. I'd be more interested in how the hooves are trimmed and if this mare is pulling ligaments or has long-term strain. Rads are always helpful to make sure there's nothing brewing under the skin. Could go either way on being metabolic. Doesn't sound that way, but feel free to share what you currently feed if you want to.

I just posted elsewhere that my mare somehow (I'm presuming overreach while horsing around in her pasture) kicked herself in P1 and gave herself a bone bruise. This happened a few years ago - no indication it had happened until much later, when it started to heal and the bone was remodeling. She went lame, then worse, then didn't want to turn on the leg. We treated to help the bone shards be digested by the body (OsPhos injection), gave some pain pills, used ice boots and supported it with polo bandages. She progressively got better and we started dietary therapy for arthritis and healthy bones/joints. Going to get another set of radiographs in the new year to see how the bone remodeling, etc. has been going. The event incited arthritic changes, so I've tried to keep up to date on that at least yearly.

Did you check for a strong digital pulse in all legs? Heat/swelling in the neck base, shoulder and chest area? Did you try feeling the back area and the spinous processes? Post pictures/video if you'd like. Helpful photos would be from the front, both sides, and from behind. Include a few photos of hooves and include the legs so we can see stance, joints and angles. Sorry if you've posted photos of her elsewhere - you can link to them to save some time. =)
 

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Since it's not consistently the same leg I wonder if she has a systemic metabolic issue such as PSSM (though PSSM usually presents with tying-up rather than sudden random lameness)?
^^^This. Metabolic issues do not have to mean PSSM. On again off again lameness can often be sub-clinical laminitis due to insulin issues.

One of the worst things people do that have not experienced metabolic issues, is to say no I don't think so. Everyone goes into denial about metabolic issues.

Those of us that have already been through the hazards of it keep trying to impress upon the first timers dealing with possible metabolic issues, is that you should not discount them by any means. Sooner or later those possible subclinical laminitic episodes are going to erupt into outright founder.

Your Ferrier will probably give your horse the horse tester test. For what it's worth my foundered horse passed the hose tester test the vet gave him and seven days later he found him so bad I thought I might lose him so don't take that to heart either.

Well I am not discounting a possible abscess, if there is a third lameness episode, it is time to call the vet and get a professional opinion. Farrier opinions do not count unless they are certified and experienced in therapeutic rehab, I learned that the very hard way:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
@Feathers7,

She gets 1 cup of Triple Crown ration balancer once daily. She has 24/7 access to grass hay. Everyone transitioned slowly from grass to grass hay last month as the weather started to set in.

I didn't feel a strong digital pulse in any of her legs. Her shoulder/neck base/chest wasn't hot or swollen. I didn't think to feel her back and spine. I'll take some pictures the next time I'm out, which I'm not quite sure when it will be since this week is total chaos. I know her bars are getting long, hence the farrier visit this week. I've also noticed her feet are slightly unbalanced, with left or right being slightly longer than the other side - they have been since I got her - which I keep meaning to ask the farrier about and certainly will this week, but he hasn't commented on it before.
 

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Sort of a different rabbit to follow, but do you have a lot of snow/ice or frozen mud right now? If so, could she have slipped or slid and strained something? Without seeing her move, hard to know if it could be higher up and muscular. Just suggesting that as one of my mares seemed to have strained a chest muscle a few weeks ago when we had lots of ice and mud, and was moving lamely because of how uncomfortable she was. My guess is it was from being her bossy self and chasing the others around in the pasture, and falling on some ice. I didn't see it though so just a guess. Anyway, hope you get to the bottom of it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
@walkinthewalk, I'll definitely talk to my vet about metabolic issues when he comes out. I admittedly don't know much about them as I've never had to deal with them, like you mentioned. What makes me hesitant is that she has absolutely zero other symptoms of metabolic issues, but yes, I do know just one symptom is all you need.
@egrogan, I'm keeping that as a definite possibility too, especially since she doesn't seem to mind me messing with her foot and nothing tells me it's precisely her foot or lower leg that's bothering her. Right now nothing is frozen, but we have that awful ground-is-solid-but-top-inch-is-slippery-mud right now. I often find myself slipping when I'm carting around wheelbarrows. And the only response I got out of her while I was poking and prodding and stretching is when I pushed hard into her right shoulder muscles and she leaned away from it. She didn't do that on the other side, but I figured it isn't necessarily definitive because she might just not have pushed her weight back onto me for fear of putting too much weight on her painful leg.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
If my regular vet doesn't have a specific answer or thinks she needs more diagnostics, I might call my professor from equine anatomy. He's a vet who almost exclusively sees and diagnoses lameness. He's probably more expensive than others, but he really knows his stuff - he can usually make a precise diagnosis just from a basic exam and catch things on radiographs and ultrasounds no one else sees. Plus, he's already familiar with me and I know he'll make it a learning experience rather than just saying "here's the issue, here's how you fix it." But I'll see what my regular vet says first.
 

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I vote for abcess. especially since you say it bothers her when turning. If the abcess is on the sides of the hoof (meaning not near the toe or heel), then when turning it causes more pain because the horse is pushing more into the outside part of the hoof. I say at least try calipers to palpate the hoof, if you haven't already done so.
 

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Yeah I meant PSSM more as an example of a metabolic issue than as a guess as to what it is. Though people did think PSSM was what was wrong with my red filly when she was going 3-legged lame. (She actually turned out to have an old broken fibula I was not told about when I took her on, which my vet says could not have happened in my ownership due to the fact that she never had any swelling or any hematoma, but that's another story)

The reason people thought my filly had a metabolic problem was that she came good and STAYED good for a LONG time when I reduced her protein intake.

Allergies can present seriously strangely too and those are systemic. My mother had a horse that was diagnosed (at 3) with equine recurrent uveitis. She was told he would have to have an eye removed by 5 and probably be euthanised by 6. It turned out he was allergic to oats, and when taken off them, he proceeded to live to be 21 before being euthanised for unrelated reasons.

If it continues to happen - sudden inexplicable lameness on random legs with no apparent cause - you would be amiss not to explore the possibility of a systemic issue.
 

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I am going to cross my fingers that she just took a bad step and is fine the next time you see her. Next best thing would be an abscess. I hope the farrier finds something Thursday if she still isn't right.


If that doesn't seem to be the case, you may want to speak to the vet about a Lyme multiplex. We are in an endemic area and its not been cold enough yet to cause the ticks to go dormant. I had a horse diagnosed with acute Lyme in January a couple years ago, so it does happen even in winter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
@tinyliny, I didn't have hoof testers or anything comparable on me. I did grab a rasp and used the blunt narrow end of it to push hard onto her sole while stabilizing it with my legs, which probably isn't comparable to what hoof testers could do, but she was not sensitive at all in any point on her hoof.
@blue eyed pony, hopefully this doesn't continue to happen and last time months ago was some strange fluke and this time was just a bruise or abscess. When my neighbor owned her and I was riding her daily years ago, she was never lame even for a second. Of course, now that she's older she could be developing something she didn't have then, but I'm crossing my fingers that this will not be a regular occurrence. Otherwise she has been very sound while I'm taking her for regular trail rides through often paved, rocky, or slippery areas, including the stream with lots of small jagged rocks she loves wading through.
@phantomhorse13, I hope so too. Lyme is also a great idea. I'm inclined to think that's not it since the BO always keeps the grass mowed and otherwise they aren't walking through brush or anything similar, but it's still definitely possible and another thing I'll bring up to the vet. We've been very lucky in our area to see less than 1% of the dogs we test for Lyme as part of their annual exam come up positive at the vet hospital.

The BO texted me this morning and said she's looking considerably better today, her lameness is barely noticeable at the walk now. Which is a huge difference compared to her dramatic head-bobbing walk on Sunday, just two days ago. Perhaps just a bruise or a bad step?
 

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My gelding was a bit lame on his right rear leg a couple of days ago. Yesterday he was fine. Most likely it was a minor bruise as the area around their barn is rutted with frozen mud and ice. Hopefully it's a simple for your horse!
 

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Any chance of a bit of hidden thrush somewhere causing it? And was the digital pulse checked and compared to the other fore? Plus temperature comparisons?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
@Hondo, with this gross muddy weather she does have some very mild thrush that I have been treating with thrush buster. It seems to be keeping it at bay just fine. I think I mentioned somewhere that she does not have a strong digital pulse or heat in her foot/leg compared to the other feet as of Sunday. I'll be going out tomorrow when she sees the farrier and I'll check again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
This morning, she wasn't visibly lame at the walk at all anymore and was still a little bit lame at the trot. The farrier agreed that it doesn't sound like an abscess since it's been improving on its own, but more so just sounds like she bruised or stung herself on some rough footing. I asked him about her slight hoof imbalance (longer on the insides) and he took the tall sides down as much as he could without taking off too much at once, which he said definitely wasn't bad and was just from the way she walked.

I also talked to him at length about the separation she's showing (mostly just in her front feet). He's not concerned at all about it because most areas are not separated. I also let him know that she didn't have hoof separation before, but that she had a single hoof ring develop on all four hooves from the move down from Maine to PA early in the summer. She just very recently grew it out of her hoof wall and the separation showed up when the stress ring started to get closer to the ground. The farrier is thinking she'll grow out that separation slowly but surely and that it might also have to do with her stinging herself. Otherwise he commented on how solid her feet are even with all this mud.

Here's some photos from today. The farrier showed up soon after I did so I only got one before photo, and only two after photos because she had just enough patience for the farrier and was sick of sitting inside. First photo is before (ignore her oddly placed hind foot, she had just turned on her hind end and didn't straighten that leg yet), second and third photos are after. I'll get more pics including all her legs and anything else on Saturday.
 

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Since it's not consistently the same leg I wonder if she has a systemic metabolic issue such as PSSM (though PSSM usually presents with tying-up rather than sudden random lameness)?
While I don't think just this symptom would be any form of PSSM, I do want to clarify that while tying up can be a symptom but not as common as some of the other symptoms. There are a lot of misconceptions about the different variants of PSSM, including what symptoms are presented. And it doesn't mean they all have the same symptoms, or even the severity. I have 2 that are 5 panel n/n but both are n/P2 & each had completely different symptoms, neither of which were tying up.
 

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I went through something very similar with my Suffolk Punch X mare Phoenix 2 years ago. She indicated absolutely no sign of lameness but one morning I took her out for a ride and she just felt off at the trot. We were a little way form home so I headed back and yes, there was definitely some thing off. I got off her and walked her home. There was just the slightest hitch in her right back leg. Once had recognized it then I could see it. Back in her paddock the hitch became on again off again. I had the farrier check her foot but there was no indication of soreness there, no inflammation anywhere and neither myself nor any of my friends could pinpoint exactly where in her leg the problem was, I wondered if it was actually right up in her hip.


After a week of no change but this weird on again off again lameness I got the vet out. The vet took one look at her as I brought Phoenix out of the paddock and said "Oh, I know what this is." She diagnosed Phee Phee with the Wobblers (Cervical stenotic myelopathy - CSM). This is a very sad diagnosis because there is no coming back from it. Phoenix just has the slight lameness for the most part but if she gets over excited and runs around too much then it can look like her hip is broken she is that lame and then the next day when the vet arrives to do the kind thing she will be back to slightly lame again.


I had never heard of the Wobblers until Phoenny was diagnosed with it, it does tend to affect the hind quarters more so than the fore quarters but not exclusively so I would honestly get your horse checked for this. The problem appears to be in the legs but it is the vertebrae in the neck that is causing the issues with Wobblers. In hind sight there were indications that something was wrong but the condition was so gradual that I never put two and two together, the clumsiness, tripping, difficulties with cantering on uneven ground were all easily attributed to Phoenix's extremely forward moving, rip and bust nature - always in a hurry to see what was around the next corner!



Sorry about this scary post, your situation just has so many similarities to the one I found myself in and I felt like I had to say something.
 
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