Something's wrong with my horse- advice/suggestions?
So, this morning I went to ride my 5yo TB and she was ridiculously quiet, despite it being a cool, rather windy day and one of the other boarders chasing her recently-gelded yearling around the adjacent pasture with a plastic bag on a stick. Didn't bother my girl at all, which is very unusual for her.
In addition to that, she felt really odd under saddle, so I longed her to see what she was doing, and she's giving more on the right hind. She's not particularly short on that leg and doesn't look traditionally lame, but there's a noticeable difference in how much "drop" there is when the right hind lands. No head bob, but she was going with her nose stuck pretty straight out in front of her- further than you would normally see a horse carry their head out.
I'm thinking possibly chiropractic issue? She's only obviously uncomfortable under saddle, and the barn girls have said she's playing in the pasture when they turn her out, although she's still very quiet to handle on the ground. She's also been in heat nearly constantly this fall, so I don't know if there could be some kind of hormonal/mare issue going on? Or heaven forbid something to do with the strained suspensory she had on the same leg this spring. I had been hoping it was just that she was footsore since she'd worn pretty much all the wall off both hind feet, so we put hind shoes on her Monday and if anything she's worse- the increased drop on the RH started today.
If I was rich I'd call the vet out and do some kind of diagnostics, but I'm not- I'm in graduate school and only working part time. I gave her a couple grams of Bute today and will give her a couple grams tomorrow before I ride and see if she's any better- hopefully that will help rule some things in or out. And I will at least talk to my vet about the possibilities/what we can do, but does anyone here have any suggestions or similar experiences? Sorry for the novel
You can extend your bute test for 5 days. Here, you bute the snot out of the horse and ask how much sounder the horse looks on days 3 to 5. That does tell you how much pain is involved.
If you have a buddy, you can do a flexion test on that leg. It is harder to isolate joints in the hind leg than in a forelimb.
Last, has your vet taught you how to palpate the injured suspensory? If so, you can feel around there and use the opposite leg as a control. In both cases, you lift up the leg so that all of the flexors are slack. You will primarily feeling for the horse's reaction-- a pain response. If you are really good, you can feel the texture of the ligament and perhaps it's sheath. Usually, however, that's a vet thing. It takes a lot of practice to feel textures in those tissues.
Hind end lamenesses can be hard to isolate, both in the leg and in the body if you don't have a lot of practice. The fact that your mare holds her nose out and stuff suggests that either it's high up, or rather constant pain. She's stabilizing the rest of her body so as to protect the sore part of that leg.
You can get only so far without a DVM on your side.
Did you take her temperature? Of course,now that you have given Bute, that would be a waste of time.
A marginal lameness seldom makes a horse quiet, but a temperature would.
This is EXACTLY what you should have done.. Taken her temp and respiration.
I am saying this kindly but... Step away from the bute bottle. There are a lot of things that can cause a horse to be lethargic where bute is not a good idea, colic, ulcers and colitis pop up first in my mind... When in doubt, take a temp and respiration, monitor food/water intake and overall behaviour, give your vet a heads up and... Wait. It is not essential to do something, often doing nothing is your best bet.
Last edited by EqTrainer; Nov. 17, 2012 at 08:02 PM.
"Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
--- The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.
I have taken her temp and it is normal. That was my first thought since she's been so quiet, but nothing unusual. She's eating and drinking normally too.
I did check the suspensory, but she was never sore to palpation on it to begin with- the strain was only diagnosed through blocks. There's no obvious soreness to palpation over her back either.
I have been talking to my vet; this has been a developing issue so we've been discussing what it could be and decided to try the hind shoes first which obviously has not solved the problem, whatever it is.
It could be anything from a strain to arthritis. Hard to say without a lameness exam. But if that is not really in the budget at this time you could try just giving the horse some time off and see what happens.
If I was in your shoes, I would give her a week off, keep monitoring her, and then re-evaluate. We all want to do what is best for our horses but need to work within our budget. This is not an emergency so there is nothing wrong with giving it a little time and seeing if it straightens itself out. Good luck!
If you have a hind suspensory you frequently get a lameness that shows no swelling, and it is diagnosed through blocks. Having an ultrasound a day or so after the blocks will give you an idea of the degree of injury.
In any case treating promptly and cautiously is a very good idea. These types of injuries can be disastrous if nor caught early, and are easily missed because the degree of lameness is frequently mild or unnoticeable until too late.
I'd also consider something like an ovarian cyst, retained follicle, etc...constant heat at this time of year would make me wonder if she's got something going on in the reproductive department. Pain in the pelvic area can lead to hind-end wonkiness as they move to avoid aggravating the pain.
vicarious, I know- been there. She is not doing the same things she was doing when she strained the suspensory (which was mild, intermittent, and near impossible to see); we did ultrasound following the diagnosis and there was no tearing or even thickening of the ligament, but that's where she blocked to. She had two months of stall rest and has since been gradually put back into work; we did re-ultrasound a couple months ago, and the ligament still looked completely normal. Since the lameness is different I'm hoping it's not that she has strained it again!
HenryisBlaisin', I've wondered about that; how do you diagnose something like that? Presumably through ultrasound, unless it can show up through bloodwork?
My farrier, who also has a really good eye for lamenesses, is coming out later this week to take a look at her- from what I described his best guess is that her sacrum is out of whack or she's got a stifle problem (that popped up randomly from???). We'll see what he can find, and if nothing then either I need to have the vet check her or just turn her out for a while, which would be a shame since she's almost back in shape enough to actually start doing something.
Re: reproductive, ultrasound would be the best way to diagnose. I've known mares to move awkwardly behind to avoid pain. The constant heat in fall says to me that something could be going on in that area.
Stifle is also a possibility. Is she dragging her toe at all? My boy was just diagnosed with a stifle injury this past week-he said it's a common place for an injury, particularly in horses that play hard in turnout and can be from stepping on an uneven spot or even just twisting it as that change direction. He appeared sound at the walk, but was dropping his hip terribly in trot. Flexions made it clearly worse; vet did a couple different positions. The vet gave us Previcox and said to keep him quiet in turnout; if he can't stay quiet, then stall rest. We'll recheck him this week and go from there on rehab. The vet seemed to think it would heal fine with rest and meds and I'm hoping he's right!
Update: had my farrier come out and watch her go this morning (he has a good eye for lameness issues) and the current verdict is that she's probably out in her sacrum/pelvis area so I have a call into a chiropractor and hopefully that helps!
Her personality is much better too- she's much less lethargic than she was : )
HenryisBlaisin', she is not dragging her toe at all and isn't usually one to play hard in turnout, although apparently she has managed to do something to herself. It does look like the RH stifle isn't working quite right, but we're going to start with getting her realigned to see if that doesn't help since obviously with her being out in her pelvic area it's going to impact how the rest of the leg works; fingers crossed!
I've had a similar problem. My mare appeared to be in heat most of the fall. It was driving me crazy. I attributed it to the stallion pasture breeding across the street. Then, a few weeks ago she didn't want to canter. I gave her 5 days off. She was better but still disorganized in the canter. I took her for a NQR check and the diagnosis was a sore right hock, with compensation for it causing slight left front lameness and sore muscles. Possible causes are arthritis or possibly the mad romp around my yard a month ago after kicking a hole in my trailer kicking at a bot fly and then breaking the lead rope and having a meltdown.
We are doing bute for a week (twice a day for three days and once thereafter). I'm definitely seeing an improvement with a day or two to go. If she stays fine, I'll call it the meltdown. If not, we are talking about hock injections. Oh, and she's no longer having a fit about having her sides touched so I think the long heat is over and vet didn't think that was related to the current problem.