A little bit of background: my mare is 7 coming 8, around 16.1hh or maybe 16.2hh, Dutch Warmblood x TB (her sire is Lochnagar). She's a hunter (or she's supposed to be at least, she wants to be a jumper), shown once a month or less at 2'6". She was ridden 5-6 days a week and rarely jumped above 2' at home though she's schooled up to 3'3". She has nice conformation, a bit upright in the shoulder and straight in the hind end but overall very balanced and well put-together. She has very nice feet. She often feels stiff while warming up but is fine after about ten minutes. She sometimes likes to back up against the leg (she's very mare-ish and I think part is because of that and part possibly because of pain).
She has been lame off and on (mostly on) since the beginning of November.
It first appeared when we took her to a show in the beginning of November. She was very obviously off in her right hind. We took her back home and gave her about a week off to see if it would clear up. It was a little better after that, but she was still lame.
We kept that up for about another week, lunging or hopping on for about five minutes to see if she was better. Sometimes it would feel like the right hind, sometimes like the left front.
Then vet came. I had school and couldn't be there, but my (non-horsey) mother was and this is what she's told me. They lunged her on fairly hard ground and the vet had a difficult time pinpointing where the lameness was; it seemed to not be slight consistently in one leg but he immediately ruled out the hind legs. When she was lunged in the arena, the lameness became more clear and the vet said it was both front legs. He also had some type of lameness sensor hooked up to her at some point; I'm not sure if it was during this or later in the visit.
The vet then did a block for the entire left front leg and the lameness in that leg went away. Then he did a block on the right front (my mother says the hoof) and she was still lame in the right front, then he blocked the coffin joint and she was sound on it.
X-rayed both front legs. The only thing he found was that her coffin bone in her right front has poor bone density.
He recommended trying either Tildren or Adequan (4 injections over 8 days, I think), and also Equipack (not sure if the name is right) gel pads on both her front. We went with the Adequan and Equipack gel pads. He also said to ride her as I normally would and see if the lameness stays the same or gets worse. I rode her more and longer than I had been before, but not up to her previous workload because she didn't seem to improve during the ride and I didn't really want to ride a lame horse.
She still wasn't totally sound after that.
The chiropractor came a few days after the vet and found that her pelvis was shifted to the left (also her poll was locked up and one other minor thing, but I doubt that was related to the lameness). After she was adjusted, she had 72 hours off and then felt sound or very close to sound.
After a couple weeks, she felt off in the right hind/left front again.
Vet came again and saw the lameness (I'm assuming the same as I and my trainer saw; again I wasn't there and my mother didn't tell me), but after she had been lunged for a total of 25-30 minutes it went away.
Chiropractor came again and found that her pelvis was shifted to the left again. She was fine again for about two weeks, then the lameness started again.
Since the lameness started, the chiropractor has come out four times, I believe. It's always the same pattern--mare feels and/or looks off in her hind end (right hind when I watch her; I'm not very good at pinpointing hind end lameness when I'm riding except that I can feel that something isn't right). The chiropractor comes, finds that her pelvis is shifted to the left (and usually a couple vertebrae out of place to compensate for the pelvis). After she gets adjusted, she's okay for about two weeks until it starts again.
The chiropractor mentioned one of the times that the reason the pelvis was out of place was likely because she'd slipped in some mud (it's been very muddy here lately) and fallen in the pasture.
However, I and pretty much everyone I've spoken to don't think that she coincidentally slips in the pasture every two weeks; there has to be some underlying cause.
When she's been sound since the lameness started, I ride her almost exclusively walk/trot (canter maybe down a long side or once around the arena pretty infrequently) for about 15-20 minutes. I often also lunge for a little over 5 minutes before I get on to see what I'll be dealing with lameness-wise that day.
I have a video of her being lunged and ridden on one of her sound days that I can try to upload if it would be helpful.
Does anyone have any clue what could be causing this?
Last edited by caughtintheact; Feb. 7, 2013 at 10:06 PM.
What type of shoes does she have currently? You say she has great feet, but a horse with poor coffin bone density may be sensitive in the laminae either because of incorrect fit of shoes or some other underlying problem - could be why she became "sound" when he blocked her hoof. She could have anything from a hot nail to some serious early laminitis - it is important to get her feet addressed before you go onto things like her tendons or knees. Does she have pads? Is she barefoot? How long has her "stiffness" been an issue? It is also most helpful to pinpoint when this happened -- then you can figure out if it is coincidence or related to something else - maybe you switched feed, or farriers. If you have a trainer, I strongly suggest your trainer's expertise, too.
It is not uncommon for a horse that is experiencing pain to compensate, and the changes you see to her pelvis orientation and her spine and poll may be detritus from her discomfort currently - she may have had an older injury that was never addressed and does not or cannot go away without being addressed.
I agree with Simkie - I would, if possible, do some blood work on her -- particularly with a vet that specializes in neurological pathology.
Good luck - I hope it is something as simple as fixing her shoeing and not a neurological issue (:
You don't say where you are, but there are some sports medicine practitioners who are wonderful at getting to the bottom of things like this.
I would check around, find one even if you need to travel a bit to get there, and get it sorted out. There are soft tissue problems that go from subtle to obvious. It is problems like this where these practitioners excel.
Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.