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View Full Version : What could be wrong with my horse? UPDATE: NO BETTER



caryledee
Mar. 4, 2010, 11:10 PM
One of my horses came in lame in RH last week. He didn't want to put weight on his heel. No heat or noticable injury to the leg, so I assumed an abscess. I treated accordingly and left him in his stall. Next day he was still lame and he had quite a bit of edema in his leg. I treated with bute, cold hosing, and wrapping for a couple of days. The swelling started to go down, but he still didn't want to bear weight on his heel in his stall. Now, when I took him down to the hose to treat him, he would walk almost normally. Once he was back in his stall though, he pretty much still stood on three legs. My vet was out today and couldn't find an abscess. He wasn't really sure what was going on, so he started him on dex/lasix for the swelling and SMZ/bute. If he is not better by Saturday, we are doing x-rays. Anyone care to guess what may be wrong with him?

Percheron X
Mar. 5, 2010, 12:48 AM
I gather the hoof testers revealed nothing?

In such case I'll guess a soft tissue injury.

Jingles for a quick recovery...

caryledee
Mar. 5, 2010, 06:29 AM
Yes, he showed absolutely nothing to the hoof testers. Wouldn't there be heat somewhere if he had a soft tissue or other injury though? My vet suggested that I turn him out again because he seems to improve when he is walking. I am not comfortable doing that though until we can rule out other injuries.

Tom Bloomer
Mar. 5, 2010, 07:30 AM
Might be heat you can't feel with your hand. I've got one of these:

http://www.amazon.com/Raytek-MT4-Non-Contact-Thermometer-Sighting/dp/B0002198GY

It measures temperature differences that I can't feel with my hand - sometimes as much as 10deg. F.

Beethoven
Mar. 5, 2010, 07:54 AM
I would still guess abscess. My mare huge subsolar abscess was not reactive to hoof testers. It was slso in her hind leg. She was non weight bearing for almost two weeks and acted like her leg was broken when she walked. Her muscles were shaking from her trying not to stand on it. We started worrying about founder/laminitis in her other three legs. She stocked up on all four legs. It was bad. We did x-ray to make sure there was no broken coffin bone in there, but nope just a huge gas pocket!

Finally popped out the cornary band and then a couple weeks later more came out of the sole and she ended up shedding her whole sole off.

Crazy stuff, so I would still bet its an abscess at this point. Have you been soaking it at all? Or packing it with anything?

EqTrainer
Mar. 5, 2010, 08:04 AM
Abcess!

caryledee
Mar. 5, 2010, 08:15 AM
Tom-Those thermometers are great! I've been meaning to get one, and that's a really good price from what I have seen.I am still hoping those that are saying it could be an abscess are right!! I have been soaking/ wrapping it, so I will continue. I've been dying to get on this guy; I just got him off the track over the winter. This is going to be the first nice weekend of the year too. It figures.

shawneeAcres
Mar. 5, 2010, 08:41 AM
Sounds like a deep abcess, but I would xray if he isn't better or abcess coming out within 10 days or so just to make sure. If he is off the track an abcess would be somewhat "normal" as a lot of the OTTB's I have gotten tend to abcess.

Mallard
Mar. 5, 2010, 07:42 PM
I once had a little mare come in from the pasture dead lame on her LF...no heat/swelling or any sign of trauma or injury.
I assumed abcess.

She had, in fact, a grade 3, displaced fracture of her elbow.

Androcles
Mar. 5, 2010, 09:06 PM
I once had a little mare come in from the pasture dead lame on her LF...no heat/swelling or any sign of trauma or injury.
I assumed abcess.

She had, in fact, a grade 3, displaced fracture of her elbow.

How is this pertinent to the OP's case which does have swelling?

Androcles
Mar. 5, 2010, 09:08 PM
One of my horses came in lame in RH last week. He didn't want to put weight on his heel. No heat or noticable injury to the leg, so I assumed an abscess. I treated accordingly and left him in his stall. Next day he was still lame and he had quite a bit of edema in his leg.

My vet was out today and couldn't find an abscess. He wasn't really sure what was going on, so he started him on dex/lasix for the swelling and SMZ/bute. If he is not better by Saturday, we are doing x-rays. Anyone care to guess what may be wrong with him?

Swelling often occurs with an abscess because of the unwillingness to weight the foot and get the requisite circulation going.
Not being able to find an abscess isn't very meaningful, since you can't really see them until they're on their way out.

Bogie
Mar. 5, 2010, 09:49 PM
I've had horses with deep abscesses that didn't react to the hoof testers. Does your horse have a digital pulse?

If it's an abscess (or I suspected one), I'd start soaking the hoof and encourage movement. Generally bute doesn't help.

Good luck!

caryledee
Mar. 6, 2010, 10:48 AM
No digital pulse. Swelling is going down gradually. I did put him back outside yesterday. I have been soaking the foot, but I bought Animalintex yesterday and I am going to start on that today. Once the swelling came down a bit, I found some small scratches on his leg and heel that might have been the cause of the edema. Thanks everyone!

caryledee
Mar. 10, 2010, 02:25 PM
So now we've done x-rays. There was one suspicious spot that the vet thought might be an abscess. So he came out today to see if he could relieve the pressure. He dug around for awhile, but couldn't get anything to drain. His next thought was that the celluitis in his leg is causing the lameness, so he started him on IV antibiotics today. I'm sweat wrapping and cold hosing and the swelling has gone down a bit, but his fetlock is still huge and he is going on 2 weeks now without wanting to put weight on his heel. He has lost some weight and the muscle is definitely wasting.

Anyone go through anything like this?

Auventera Two
Mar. 10, 2010, 03:47 PM
Same thing happened to one of mine about a month ago and it turned out to be a suspensory injury or tear of some type. She was also diagnosed DSLD due to the painful palpations over the suspensory branches of all 4 limbs and given her breed, which is known for it.

She did not get relief until I started Previcox and support wrapping with really good quilts and elastic trace bandages. Bute was completely ineffective for this - even at 4 grams per day, she got no relief at all.

My vet said when a horse is going to the toe and unweighting the heel it is generally abscess or suspensories. She said generally if it's an abscess you can locate it with hoof testers, and there will be heat in the heel bulbs or dorsal wall and digital pulse. My horse had no digitial pulse and no heat but did have swelling, but the swelling took a while to show up. She was also non-reactive to testers. She did not xray because she felt that can be dangerous due to "artifacts" that may show up and be just nothing. The vet will then try to dig around and find something, and end up creating a large wound in the foot unnecessarily. Often you will "see something" on an xray that when re-shot, turns out to be nothing.

My horse eventually developed the tell-tale "knee buckling" after maybe 2 weeks. In other words she would unweight the heel and stand on the toe, then the knee would fold up and the leg would buckle. Then she'd put the foot flat on the stall floor, then go to the toe again, then knee buckle.....

The vet said that they'll generally quit going to the toe once they have good support wraps on that are properly applied with enough pressure. I called The Harness Shop Online and talked to the owner, who is very knowledgeable about Standardbred racing. They have a lot of soft tissue injuries and he further instructed me on support wrapping a suspensory injury based on its location and severity. I would recommend him as a resource *if* your problem turns out to be suspensory in nature.

To get the diagnosis, my vet watched the horse walk, then used hoof testers (negative), then did a flexion test on the limb, which extended her lameness from a grade 2 to a grade 5. Obviously flexions will not make an abscess any worse, so that further solidified that it was in the limb, not the foot. She then began range of motion testing the limb at the elbow, knee, and fetlock, and range of motion was perfect throughout. She then began palpating and the horse was very sore over the suspensory branches. The most affected limb was obviously the most painful, but even mild palpation on the other 3 limbs also showed pain and puffiness. I had suspected this for a while because the horse had gotten "weird" about hoof trimming. She doesn't want her leg grasped, held, or squeezed in any way whatsoever.

My horse has been on stall rest and light turnout because she's an old retired plug. If she were a young performance horse looking to return to work, the protocols would be significantly tighter.

Just my experience. Not sure if it in any way relates to your horse or not, but wanted to share since what you describe is exactly how my horse presented.

Good luck and hang in there.

P.S. - I still kept soaking and packing that foot with Animalintex or epsom salts because I still wasn't 100% convinced. However, nothing ever "happened" in the foot. I'm glad I at least tried though because I guess you just never know.

EqTrainer
Mar. 10, 2010, 06:24 PM
Xraying is the only thing that will reveal something like a broken or septic coffin bone.

Androcles
Mar. 10, 2010, 07:12 PM
Xraying is the only thing that will reveal something like a broken or septic coffin bone.

Didn't she say xrays showed nothing, really?

EqTrainer
Mar. 10, 2010, 07:30 PM
Didn't she say xrays showed nothing, really?

Yes, my comment was to A2, whose vet apparently doesn't do xrays because they could be misleading? I am hoping I misunderstood that...

Androcles
Mar. 10, 2010, 07:32 PM
Yes, my comment was to A2, whose vet apparently doesn't do xrays because they could be misleading? I am hoping I misunderstood that...

Oh, sorry. ( I didn't, ahem, read A2's, ahem, lengthy post). In the words of Roseann Roseannadann, never mind.

mroades
Mar. 10, 2010, 07:59 PM
my vote is soft tissue...if xrays were inconclusive, get out the scanner!
or you could block him to see where he gets sound.

caryledee
Mar. 10, 2010, 08:58 PM
Thank you for the replies everyone! Auventera, that is very interesting...I will definitely keep suspensory issues in mind if he doesn't improve over the weekend. This is his back leg though, so it is less likely to be tendon/ligament issue.He is probably a 4, lameness wise...he is reluctant to put any weight on the heel whatsoever. We did a bunch of x-rays to rule out fractures and foreign bodies; my vet felt he may have gotten a puncture wound too small to see. The x-rays have relieved my mind in that respect. Vet wanted to block him, but said he just has too much swelling right now to get an effective block done. If he is still lame on Monday, we will try a block. He did look slightly better tonight...he had his foot flat on the ground several times.

hitchinmygetalong
Mar. 10, 2010, 09:00 PM
Are you hand walking this horse at all?

I hope things start to turn around for you.

caryledee
Mar. 11, 2010, 07:42 AM
I was handwalking him at first. It wasn't doing much for the swelling and I was really afraid he would hurt himself by falling.

hitchinmygetalong
Mar. 11, 2010, 09:08 AM
I think the swelling is secondary to whatever caused the lameness to begin with, and you have even stated that the swelling goes down after the horse has been moving around a bit.

Check with your vet first, but if I were in your place, and if the horse still walks okay on that foot, I would try and walk off some of that swelling.

I would also be wondering if perhaps he didn't slip in the field and pull something higher in the leg or even in his hip that may be making it painful for him to bear weight on the foot.

I do hope you and your vet figure out what this is and you get an answer to your mystery!

Ghazzu
Mar. 11, 2010, 09:20 AM
"Xraying is the only thing that will reveal something like a broken or septic coffin bone."

And ultrasound is an excellent tool for looking at the possibility of suspensory lesions.

AnotherRound
Mar. 11, 2010, 10:38 PM
Same thing happened to one of mine about a month ago and it turned out to be a suspensory injury or tear of some type. She was also diagnosed DSLD due to the painful palpations over the suspensory branches of all 4 limbs and given her breed, which is known for it.

She did not get relief until I started Previcox and support wrapping with really good quilts and elastic trace bandages. Bute was completely ineffective for this - even at 4 grams per day, she got no relief at all.

My vet said when a horse is going to the toe and unweighting the heel it is generally abscess or suspensories. She said generally if it's an abscess you can locate it with hoof testers, and there will be heat in the heel bulbs or dorsal wall and digital pulse. My horse had no digitial pulse and no heat but did have swelling, but the swelling took a while to show up. She was also non-reactive to testers. She did not xray because she felt that can be dangerous due to "artifacts" that may show up and be just nothing. The vet will then try to dig around and find something, and end up creating a large wound in the foot unnecessarily. Often you will "see something" on an xray that when re-shot, turns out to be nothing.

My horse eventually developed the tell-tale "knee buckling" after maybe 2 weeks. In other words she would unweight the heel and stand on the toe, then the knee would fold up and the leg would buckle. Then she'd put the foot flat on the stall floor, then go to the toe again, then knee buckle.....

The vet said that they'll generally quit going to the toe once they have good support wraps on that are properly applied with enough pressure. I called The Harness Shop Online and talked to the owner, who is very knowledgeable about Standardbred racing. They have a lot of soft tissue injuries and he further instructed me on support wrapping a suspensory injury based on its location and severity. I would recommend him as a resource *if* your problem turns out to be suspensory in nature.

To get the diagnosis, my vet watched the horse walk, then used hoof testers (negative), then did a flexion test on the limb, which extended her lameness from a grade 2 to a grade 5. Obviously flexions will not make an abscess any worse, so that further solidified that it was in the limb, not the foot. She then began range of motion testing the limb at the elbow, knee, and fetlock, and range of motion was perfect throughout. She then began palpating and the horse was very sore over the suspensory branches. The most affected limb was obviously the most painful, but even mild palpation on the other 3 limbs also showed pain and puffiness. I had suspected this for a while because the horse had gotten "weird" about hoof trimming. She doesn't want her leg grasped, held, or squeezed in any way whatsoever.

My horse has been on stall rest and light turnout because she's an old retired plug. If she were a young performance horse looking to return to work, the protocols would be significantly tighter.

Just my experience. Not sure if it in any way relates to your horse or not, but wanted to share since what you describe is exactly how my horse presented.

Good luck and hang in there.

P.S. - I still kept soaking and packing that foot with Animalintex or epsom salts because I still wasn't 100% convinced. However, nothing ever "happened" in the foot. I'm glad I at least tried though because I guess you just never know.

OK, I'm sorry, but I just had to ask.

1 - what do your suspensory issues have to do with this horse?

[edited]

asterix
Mar. 12, 2010, 04:21 PM
as someone who just spent a year rehabbing hind suspensory lesions, I am not sure why you think it is less likely to be soft tissue in the hind leg.
I hope you get it figured out -- nonweight bearing for a long time is no good, as I am sure you know! good luck!

EqTrainer
Mar. 12, 2010, 05:12 PM
as someone who just spent a year rehabbing hind suspensory lesions, I am not sure why you think it is less likely to be soft tissue in the hind leg.
I hope you get it figured out -- nonweight bearing for a long time is no good, as I am sure you know! good luck!

Me, either. But I would expect to see some sort of heat/swelling or have the horse palpate somewhere on a leg that was not weight bearing, if there were a soft tissue injury.

Then again there was the person on the breeding forum whose horse was non weight bearing on a hind limb and I think it turned out there was something broken higher up.

caryledee
Mar. 12, 2010, 05:42 PM
The IV antibiotics seem to be helping alot...he was moving around quite a bit last night. I hope we are on the right track now!

hitchinmygetalong
Mar. 12, 2010, 07:40 PM
Oh, that's great! Thanks for the update!

Beethoven
Mar. 12, 2010, 10:30 PM
The IV antibiotics seem to be helping alot...he was moving around quite a bit last night. I hope we are on the right track now!

What IV antibotics are you using? We gave my mare two rounds of OxTet(i think thats the short name for it) and that really helped her horrible hind abscess that had her non weight bearing for 2 weeks solid if not longer.

caryledee
Mar. 13, 2010, 11:37 AM
We are using tetracycline IV for five days. I took him for a long walk this morning, and he jogged a little when the other horses started running. He was almost sound at the jog! Then I put him back in his stall and he still wants to stand on three legs. I can pick up the opposite leg and he will put all his weight on the bad one with no problem, but once I let it down he goes back to standing with the bad one cocked. Do you think this is just a memory issue?

buck22
Mar. 13, 2010, 12:53 PM
Might be heat you can't feel with your hand. I've got one of these:

http://www.amazon.com/Raytek-MT4-Non-Contact-Thermometer-Sighting/dp/B0002198GY

It measures temperature differences that I can't feel with my hand - sometimes as much as 10deg. F.
omg, I read this 3 days ago, ordered from the link above, it arrived yesterday and it is SO much fun to play with!!! lol :lol: Did you know I prefer my coffee at 157°? :lol: Can't wait to use this on the horses

very cool idea Tom, thanks for sharing

hollynanne
Mar. 13, 2010, 01:01 PM
My COTH CYA- I'm not a vet... this is just what I was thinking, while reading through these posts...

Since you're pretty sure it's not a break, what do you think about asking your vet their opinion on putting him on turnout. You've been saying that he's mostly okay when you've taken him out handwalking/grazing, so maybe putting him out might help?

I dunno. I'm glad the IV abs are helping... It was just a thought...

WarHorse
Mar. 13, 2010, 01:01 PM
Do you think this is just a memory issue?

Quite likely. How is the swelling?

Auventera Two
Mar. 13, 2010, 05:24 PM
I trim a few horses with DSLD with primarily the hind legs affected (which is typical) so I wouldn't doubt suspensory issues on the rear legs.

That's great to hear your horse is doing better!!!! :) I hope he continues to recover quickly!

caryledee
Mar. 13, 2010, 05:37 PM
My COTH CYA- I'm not a vet... this is just what I was thinking, while reading through these posts...

Since you're pretty sure it's not a break, what do you think about asking your vet their opinion on putting him on turnout. You've been saying that he's mostly okay when you've taken him out handwalking/grazing, so maybe putting him out might help?

I dunno. I'm glad the IV abs are helping... It was just a thought...

Definitely want to get him back on turnout, I think that will help! He still has the catheter in til Monday though, so I have to wait until then. I just want this to end!

caryledee
Mar. 13, 2010, 05:39 PM
Quite likely. How is the swelling?

Swelling has gone down quite a bit, but his fetlock is still larger than normal.

egontoast
Mar. 13, 2010, 05:51 PM
Perhaps I missed it, but has the leg been ultrasounded? I'd want an ultrasound to rule out other things before deciding it was an abscess and turning out. And yes, of course you can have tendon and ligament problems in the hind legs . if you want the best chance of healing, you'll want to find out before turning out.

Did your vet advise you wrap the other leg for support? I'd be wanting to do that as well.

Quite possibly but not necessarilly an abscess

EventingJ
Mar. 14, 2010, 03:59 AM
is the pain localized or all over the leg? Sounds a lot like lymphangitis to me.

marta
Mar. 14, 2010, 07:31 AM
It sounds like lower suspensory or maybe sesmoidean ligament issue.
I'd get some blocks and a U/S

egontoast
Mar. 14, 2010, 02:27 PM
yes, I don't see where soft tissue/tendon /ligament issues have been ruled out.

Trouble with that is If soft tissue, it may seem a little better at times but will just keep getting re injured if not given enough time to fully heal.

AliCat518
Mar. 14, 2010, 10:24 PM
Last week, my horse was lame in his left hind, not weightbearing and refused to put his heel down. The vet came out and determined there was a tiny puncture wound that got infected. It then infected the sheath on the tendons in that leg. He had to get surgery, and is expected to make a full recovery.

What your horse is going through sounds very similar to mine....hope this could be of some help and hope he gets better soon!

caryledee
Mar. 15, 2010, 08:15 AM
Thanks everyone! The vet will be coming back out today, so we will no doubt be doing blocks; he had too much swelling in his leg last week to attempt them.

Alicat-this is my biggest fear! Years ago my mare stepped on a nail and needed surgery like yours. This gelding is showing very similar symptoms. I'm not sure how I would afford the surgery right now though. I am glad your horse is supposed to make a full recovery though!

2 vets, a farrier, and myself have examined the foot over and over again and we can't find any sort of puncture or wound though. It is really strange.

Edited to add: he is still on stall rest (and has been since this started) so even if it is a soft tissue injury, hopefully I am starting down the right path for him to heal. The swelling seems to go down only when I hand walk him a bit; wrapping and cold hosing don't really seem to affect it much. Lymphangitis is another worry, but the swelling is now only in the fetlock area so hopefully this is the case.

Auventera Two
Mar. 15, 2010, 10:23 AM
caryledee - If you end up needing to do a lot of medical work (surgery???ugh) you could look into Care Credit. I've had to use them in the past and was very happy. Yeah, the interest is a little higher, but when you're desperate, you're desperate :-) I made modest monthly payments until it was paid off, and depending on your credit rating, I think you can borrow up to about $5,000. At the time I used it, I was young and single and had no credit really and they still approved me. LOL.

If there is a puncture in the frog, it can be almost impossible to detect because the frog tissue closes over the hole so rapidly. Sometimes you can discover these by trimming the frog back with a hoof knife. I've found a puncture in the frog before by trimming off just a thin layer of frog material. Your farrier can help you with that if you get to a point where you've exhausted all the other options.

Boy, what an ordeal you're having. :-( I wish you the best of luck in figuring it out!

caryledee
Mar. 15, 2010, 11:34 AM
Thanks for the idea Auventera! I will have to go that route if it turns out I need to get surgery done. Unfortunately, I was hoping to get my roarer's surgery done this year, plus I have to get a root canal and 4 crowns done on my own teeth, and then my water heater broke in my townhouse and flooded both my unit and my neighbor's unit, so I've had to come up with that as well...not a good year financially for me so far!

That makes sense with a frog puncture...my vet did trim off quite a bit of frog searching for an abscess, but the frog seems to be the area he reacts to every once in a while when I go pressing around. I'm more and more wondering if it's an infection and if they need to treat it with a perfusion rather than IV antibiotics. I will talk to the vet about that today.

AliCat518
Mar. 15, 2010, 10:15 PM
Hope everything with the vet went okay today. The surgery is very expensive, but I also agree that care credit is a great way to go!

Dont be too afraid that it will require surgery. While this has not been a fun ordeal, the surgery is minimally invasive and recovery time isnt too awful compared to other things!

It will be such a relief just to find out what the problem is! Good luck, and ill be keeping you and your horse in my thoughts!

caryledee
Mar. 16, 2010, 07:06 AM
Thanks! The vet is still saying this is a bad case of cellulitis. I questioned whether a perfusion would be better than the IV antibiotics and he didn't think it was necessary. He IS a lot sounder than he was 5 days ago, but the swollen fetlock really worries me; I don't want this to become a permanent problem.