View Full Version : Cross Fire

Oct. 18, 2011, 10:08 PM
My horse has been in serious work since Mayish. We have gone to 3 shows. He WAS solid training 4 years ago when I had my son and I really spent the last years working a job - being a mom of a baby and busy busy.

Took horse back from letting the kids at my barn event him some. He loves jumping.

Anyways - he was doing very well, loves being back to serious work. But 2 months ago started being short in the hind when I cantered to the right. So I had a very high reputed massage guy work on him. He found a strained muscle in that hind and worked on it. He was a little better after that but then at the next show - we won a class - we scored in the 65 range - BUT he just felt labored in that lead.

So my trainer - a high level trainer told me she thought I should work him through it. You think I should 1. chiropract him (massage guy said it was all muscle cramp) 2. work him through it - 3. give him a week off - lots of linament and then work through it - 4. have him massaged again...?

It seems like a muscle thing but I am not a vet. He just labors and goes on the fore and when cantering in the pasture - he will cross fire that lead.


Oct. 18, 2011, 10:10 PM
And though he is training level - most of the work we do is first. Like he loves shoulder in - canter loops.... has given me a few pure changes, but I stopped that work when he started having canter issues.

Oct. 18, 2011, 10:20 PM
I am really sorry you are having this problem with your horse. I went through a very very similar problem with my mare. Everyone thought it was a pulled muscle. I struggled for almost a year with this problem, and it wasn't a pulled muscle at all, or a training issue. I recommend getting more diagnostics done ASAP and perhaps even a bone scan or MRI if you can't figure out the issue from the diagnostics. I spent over $3000 in massage, bloodwork, chiro, injections, supplements, and training when I could have just done the bone scan and had it all figured it out. Not to mention the savings of over $3000, closer to $4000. In my years I have spent too much money on pieces of diagnostic work (ultrasounds, radiographs, etc.) I have found that once you spend over $1000 and nothing is figured out, you save more money if you just go right to the bone scan or MRI rather than spend more thousands on diagnostics of small areas of your horse, especially if you can't figure out where the problem is stemming from. You end up spending so much more in the long run. Sometimes they manifest in other parts of the body and you just spend $2000 doing diagnostics in the hind limbs when the whole time it was kissing spines. Stuff like that. Really, I hope you get it all straightened out and I wish the best for you and your horse!

Oct. 19, 2011, 02:09 AM
I would personally have both chiro and MT done by someone(s) reputable first, in the hopes it is something simple like a misaligned or tight hip or what. Then go into the more expensive vet options. A break might be good, but working him through it when he's clearly uncomfortable is not the right answer and would be very unfair to your horse, imo.

Good luck, hope you figure it out and the solution is a simple one :)

Oct. 19, 2011, 09:15 AM
You didn't mention if you had a vet check your horse out. My first thought was, maybe it's a hock problem, but for that you'd need x- rays.

I def. would NOT try to work through an issue that's been hanging around for two months now! Something is wrong, and your horse is in pain (or he wouldn't come up lame/ irregular).

Good Luck!!

Oct. 19, 2011, 09:31 AM
Why wouldn't you call a vet before chiro/massage? Could be mild arthritis, a hoof problem, anything. I would call a vet first and have them come out and work from there. Your trainer's advice is odd imo.

Oct. 19, 2011, 09:35 AM
I agree with calling the vet- when my horse did this it was a hind suspensory- MRI and ultrasound diagnosed. While he was being diagnosed by the vet, a very well known accupuncturist and another very well trained message therapist worked no him also and neither had a clue as to the cause.

Oct. 19, 2011, 12:09 PM
I'm with MickeyDoodle and OceansAway.

Chiro/Accu/little pieces here and there is a slow drip that wastes time and costs a fortune in the long run with nothing definitive.

Hit it fast, hit it hard, and get an answer.

You will either know exactly what to do to make him better, or you will know that you can carry on with your regular work schedule and back it up with the dressage whip without feeling guilty about it.

Oct. 19, 2011, 12:57 PM
You mentioned that he you let kids at a barn 'event' your horse. To me, that is serious work that could result in a serious strain somewhere. I think you need a vet for proper diagnostics. Good luck:)

Oct. 19, 2011, 12:57 PM
Chiro/Accu/little pieces here and there is a slow drip that wastes time and costs a fortune in the long run with nothing definitive.

Not at all! Sometimes it is something simple, such as a rotated pelvis or a tight hip or such - btdt with multiple horses!!! That's where a chiro/MT can help, where a vet (unless they also do chiro/MT) might be unable to. A good chiro/MT can also 'read' the horse's body and potentially point out a general cause (ie, where the vet can start looking) for why the horse is misaligned or sore in specific areas. One session (approx. $80 in our area) usually suffices to figure out the problem or determine if the vet is a good next step. It's MUCH cheaper than having the vet out right off the bat, if the problem is simple. If you have to go to the vet in the end anyway, you're not out a 'fortune', compared to running multiple tests with a vet, that WILL cost you a fortune, only to find the root cause was something a chiro/MT has to fix.

ETA: OP I understand you've sought the care of a MT, but I'd also seek the care of a chiropractor if he were my horse. See what the chiro says an if there is improvement, then seek the advice of a vet if necessary.

Oct. 19, 2011, 02:40 PM
Sure it could be just a strain that might get better with rest and time; or it could be a stifle or hock issue. You can always give it a little time if you're not in a hurry with your goals, or try to cut to the chase and have it worked up. If there is a vet school close to you, it would probably make more sense if you go the work up route, to have it done there rather than in the field by a vet who may just refer you there anyway as a result of his evaluation.

Oct. 19, 2011, 06:10 PM
It came about around the same time he did a solid canter lead change. I have thought back to that and wondered if he twisted something. No one sees lameness. Most who watch him go see nothing wrong with him including my vet but I did not have him do a lameness exam at the time. But when I canter him to the left, he labors sluggish in the transition - it is obediant because he is a good boy but I have to support him a lot more than I usually do and his canter is a little downhill when it usually jumps up and is fantastic.

The massage guy I used is the highest reputed guy in my area and he was wonderful. But all he found was a strain in the muscle along the back of his lower butt cheek.

I think I misled you about the eventing - I evented him up to novice 4 years ago when he was 5 (so I only did that for 10 months because he was young - he is just a super great jumper) but I let teens learn to post and do some basic jumping and a few mroe advanced teens take him to unrec events to learn some off him. Nothing he did was difficult and he hasnt jumped seriously since last April. I am pretty sure that has nothing to do with this.

Sometimes I think dressage trainers and over all GOOD quality sporthorse jumper or dressage trainers have seen a lot of the same type of injuries or soreness whereas vets see colics and breaks and babies and vaccinations and a lot of things. Thus why I spoke to my trainer about it and am asking all of you.

SO, when I call my vet, should I suggest what - an ultrasound or what do you think I should ask? MAYBE my problem is - I need a good solid sporthorse vet.

I need Dr. Wheat back in California who was my vet many moons ago.

Oct. 19, 2011, 06:20 PM
My last experience with a horse in my barn owned by a 16 year old is - we did massage, saddle fit, chiropractor, vet, full lameness exam.... was told he had either EPM or had early hock arthritis problems by the vet. She was sure it was one of those two things.

So $200 for the EPM test. I have helped rehab TBs and one had EPM and I was very confused why she thought he had that BUT it scared us enough to definitely have the test. He tested negative. Then after hock radiographs - that was a no. But I put him on joint supps anyways.

My suspicion was he had back pain still - some from stiffening to the rider from bad memories of an ill fitted saddle. I asked the vet if doing that could make him transfer stress into the hock and be what she was seeing. I learned this can happen when riding at numerous jumper and dressage barns. She told me no. But in the end, that is what it was.

This is a different horse though. This horse is a drama queen. MY horse is a tank and would never be lame unless a leg was hanging off him bleeding. He is just that way.

Oct. 19, 2011, 08:36 PM
if he were mine, I'd have the chiro out, followed by 3-4 days of robaxin, then back into slow work and see how things go.
I'd also incorporate hills because hills in my experience seem to help

Oct. 19, 2011, 10:27 PM
I guess I am spoiled her in S FL because we have a lot of race horses and most of the vets work on them as well as pleasure/show horses .

Oct. 20, 2011, 11:42 AM
I'm having similar issues, and had the vet out on Monday to look at my guy. During the eval she pointed out to me that the issues weren't originating in the hocks (as I thought) but higher up. She palpated his SI and croup areas and found some very tight and sore spots. On the longe he was inclined to canter with his hind legs close together, rather than striding out independently with each. We had to get after him to get him to canter correctly, but shortly thereafter he'd get tired and swap behind.

I'm a low level rider getting back to more correct work, so she recommended that I longe him on 10M circles daily to build strength in those muscles. If I had more talent, I'd be riding canter voltes and then immediately going down the long side extended. However, I'm years away from that, hence, the longe line. :lol: He's also on 10 tabs of Robaxin 2x day.

In my lessons my trainer and I are really focusing on leg yields and spirals, to get him stepping under with those hinds. I'm also doing stretchy work - stretchy trot, loose and rolling canter - and this weekend if the weather is decent my trainer and I are going to hit the trails - the goal is to eventually get to the point where I can be confident enough to hand gallop. My vet says big forward cantering and hand galloping are instrumental in releasing tension in those big hind end muscles. There was an article about this in either DT or Practical Horseman, can't recall which, as well.

Anyway. You're not alone. Good luck!

Oct. 20, 2011, 12:05 PM
i agree get vet to look at him. and if it is a soft tissue injury - having had many soft tissue injuries myself - he will need time off. soft tissue takes ages to heal - and the only way ti will heal is time off.

i would toss him out in a pasture and let him be for 3 months + and see what happens. time is the best medicine.

working a horse thru stiffness is one thing, working a horse thru soft tissue pain is different and i would be questioning my trainer if they recommended it.

eta: just reread what i wrote - of course there are degrees of injury - and he may not need 3 months + off, but unless it is just a lightly pulled muscle - time off is the only real way to heal soft tissue ... talk to your vet but listen to your gut - you are the one feeling what you are feeling.... dont let others push you into doing something that doesn't feel right.

Oct. 20, 2011, 12:57 PM
Well, a visit to my dad and the weather is giving him a week off ANYWAYs and it sounds a lot like Johnnies auntie. The massage guy, trainer and vet (from talking to him not yet evaluated) did not think this was a 3 month off type of thing. But in my gut I think he is a bit sore and taking a little time off - keep with the joint supps and then when we get back to work - I will ease back into the canter work. Its not like I dont have 4 other horses to ride but he is by far the most fun!

I did call my vet but the stuff he said - I think if the week or two off gives a really positive response, I may give him one more week off and start back and see. I did call a chiro and she said to bring him down - I will probably take him there in the meantime. I have used chiros enough that upon evaluating him myself, nothing seems out or uneven - the massage guy I used knows something about evaluating if it is a chiro issue just on a preliminary sense and he thought it was muscle. Both he and my trainer thought it was being sore from going from being basically in low impact work to being put into serious work. I did ease into it but he went from not much to first level work in 4 months. He WAS trained to this point before so it has not been a rush-the-training thing - BUT back in his previous training, he had not found that sweet canter balance where he jumps up into the canter like he has this time so I know we arefinding all new muscles.