This is a long story, I'll try to shorten it and try to include all info I can!
I have this Trakehner mare. I got her when she was 15. Sold/traded her when she was 17 or 18. She had two foals back to back, no problems. She's always been a super picky eater and always on the slightly skinny side and gives EVERYTHING to her foals. She wasn't looking so hot when her foal was pulled off of her this past winter and other horses were stealing her grain so we don't know how much she was actually getting.
In February, I bought her back. She's 21 now. The owner couldn't keep her anymore (life happened). I wanted to make sure she got the good retirement home she deserves.
She was in really poor shape when I picked her up. Very underweight, muscle pretty much all gone.
I got a feeding program going for her and started some light exercise by ponying her off of another horse on some very low hills at a walk and eventually a jog. She put weight on very quickly, and is now almost at a normal weight. Muscle is still a work in progress, but it has started to come back as well.
I started riding her but I had too much on my plate so my friend started doing one lesson a week on her. They pretty much just did walk and trot and occasional trails. Otherwise, I rode her just a few times.
The other week she seemed to be crampy, she was having some rough spring heat cycles and her back got really sore and she was squatting all the time, pressing her butt into anything that moved. I gave her a little banamine since she was too sore to eat or drink anything. That helped a ton and she went along to eating quite happily. That night, she was quite depressed in her stall and was picking up one back leg really high, holding it a few seconds, then would do the other leg. I figured she was just responding to pain, so I gave her a little more banamine and mashed up her Alam in some warm water, added some electrolytes, and soaked a flake of hay and checked on her throughout the night. The banamine kicked in, she went to eating, got rehydrated, and was perfectly fine by morning.
She has NEVER been a colicky mare before...she's always had a stomach of steel, but I figured, she's 21 now. Digestive system isn't as good as it used to be.
Well yesterday morning she was happily eating hay in her paddock. I noticed her leave the hay to stand at the other side of the paddock. She would pick up one hind leg really high, then the other. But she was super alert and kind of looked sleepy, and it isn't unusual for her to just stand for an hour or so in the sun and doze. So I thought nothing of it.
Last night, when staff went to bring her in, they said she almost fell over. Then she had this really funny walk. I went to the barn and sure enough, she was picking up her hind legs pretty high as she walked and when she put them down, it was like she was searching for the ground. When she'd stop walking, she'd pick one hind leg up really high, hold it, then do the other. She was all tucked up, she looked dehydrated, her veins were popping, her breath was shallow and irregular, temp was normal, cap refill was normal.
Called the vet, gave her a little banamine for the trip and hauled her there. By the time we got there, she was already seeming a lot more comfortable. Still walking really funny, still picking up hind legs when we'd stop (she never offered to lay or roll BTW)
Vets worked on her, determined that things seemed to have stopped moving and there was some gas but nothing out of place or really blocked, there was some super dry manure in there though. After all was said and done at the vet, she was a million times more comfortable, and searching eagerly for food and water. Funny walk remained, but not as bad. Figured it had to do with pain and/or muscle cramps.
Followed vets instructions and today my mare seems much happier, eating, drinking, manure, very normal. Temps remain normal. Seems really healthy. BUT. When I walk her, 1) she is reluctant to walk 2) she still has a hitchy type hind end gait 3) she still picks up one hind leg then the other when we stand still. It improves slightly the more we walk, but if we stop for any amount of time, it takes a while to get going again. Occasionally it is like a stifle locks up, and she drops a hip and grunts for a step. She really doesn't seem painful in her gut anymore, so now I'm concerned that this has nothing to do with colic.
Then when I think about it, she has had a weak hind end since I got her back, even though energy is returning and weight is returning. She's reluctant to canter and cannot hold it. Her topline refuses to fill out. Occasionally she will have very random patches of sweat. I have had her fall over on me once already while trotting on a LARGE circle outside (it's like her hip just dropped out from under her). I jumped her over a very small cross rail the other week and she came off three legged lame for several strides, it felt like a hind leg had locked up. But I got off and walked her and she was fine.
All this pieced together with the incident last night has me rather concerned, and stumped. What could be going on here? Anyone have ideas? This all seems so sudden.
I can't believe it!!!!! we had the exact same thing happen to a friend of mines mare.
Older mare (20's), warmblood type, easy keeper, hard cycles.
We noticed she was standing out in the pasture not moving much so we brought her in and she was lifting her hind legs funny at the walk like she couldn't find the ground. Then when we stopped she would lift one really high and then the other one. Never kicking at her belly just holding them up then putting them down and she wasn't stomping them either. She was tucked up in her belly just like you say and her veins were popping out on her legs also.
We figured it couldn't be any kind of colic because she wasn't sweaty, she wasn't breathing hard she didn't act like she was in any pain at all except for the leg lifts. In fact the only symptoms were the legs lifts, tummy sucked up, and veins popping out.
We went and got some therma flex to rub on her back thinking maybe it was like a sciatica and the nerves going down the back of her legs were hurting???. We rubbed the therma flex on and gave her some horse aspirin. 2 days of that and she wasn't doing that anymore but she had come into heat by then so we are figuring it was a hard heat???
I would really like to know the results of the EPM test if you would like to share that.
Good luck with your mare also, it will be interesting to see if this all happens again next month....
Should have put in more details about the days following this sudden onset.
When the colic subsided and my mare was perfectly healthy otherwise again but the funny walk remained, I chucked her back on the trailer with my gelding who was going to the vet on Friday.
The vet palpated everything and couldn't find anything unusual or sore. She did find some heat in both hocks, but my mare had been in a stall since the colic and she stocks up horribly, plus with the way she is walking now I wouldn't be surprised if her hocks are taking some beatings.
We walked her in a straight line, she just showed the funny hiking gait. Her stifle locked up once (I was so glad it locked up for the vet to see) We trotted her and she didn't want to, but she didn't have any problems with it either. We pulled her tail to the sides while she walked. Vet noted a mild weakness on both sides but it seems symmetrical. We did circles in both directions, getting smaller and smaller. As the circle got really small, the vet noted that the outside leg would wing out a little, but she didn't seem to lose coordination. She had me walk my mare with her head in the air, which is where the vet saw the biggest difference. With her head in the air, my mare has a more exaggerated hind end problem and she acts like she's searching with her front legs.
Her hind limb gait is hard to describe. It's like she hikes up her legs extra high and slaps her feet down heel first. She hates walking now. I can't even turn her out anymore, which is really really weird. Usually she HATES being in, and will scream and fuss and pace and attempt to break out of her stall if she's not turned out. But now she hates leaving her stall. If I turn her out, she'll either stand at the gait the whole time and ignore food and water, or pace the fenceline the whole time and ignore food and water. We think this is why she colicked, because I saw her standing in one spot wednesday morning, and when I came back early afternoon she was still there, except I thought she must have left and just went back to the same spot, but now we think she didn't move at all, and got backed up and dehydrated.
I noticed if she gets really upset and paces the paddock fenceline when I try to turn her out, and she has her head lifted up and to the side so it's always over the fence as she paces, her gait is more exaggerated, and her stifles will lock up more often. After a stifle locks, she'll exaggerate her gait more. We partly think she's trying to avoid having her stifles lock, and that's part of the reason why she's walking funny, or funnier anyway. She really hates when a stifle locks.
I've just been keeping her in to keep her happy and to make sure she won't walk away from food and water and decide not to go back. I take her for several hand walks a day but she hates them and really has to labor, and seems to be purposefully putting much more weight on her forehand to drag her hind end behind.
Does stringhalt really come on THIS fast? Does stringhalt create a more exaggerated and searching gait when the head is elevated? I've seen some horses with stringhalt and they all seemed to manage pretty fine, and most of them seemed progressive, but yet they were still fine to walk/trot/canter jump, and didn't seem to have too much trouble with it. My mare can't hold a canter at all, she's very distressed by her situation, and labors to walk.
I do not know a lot about stinghalt, as far as how it onsets...so while it was my first thought, the rest of your description sounded like it was something else affecting her nervous system. I am curious to know how this resolves when the vet sees her.
I have seen stringhalt present seemingly overnight.
False stringhalt sometimes appears as a result of some temporary irritation to the lower pastern area or even a painful lesion in the foot. The occasional horse with momentary upward fixation of the patella may exhibit a stringhalt-like gait.
Do not take anything to heart. Do not hanker after signs of progress. Founder of theRiders with Fibromyalgia clique.