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on eventing, coffin joints, and maintenance...

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  • on eventing, coffin joints, and maintenance...

    So... really long story that I am going to try and make as short (but informative) as possible...

    Horse has had off and on unsoundness issues for past year (year before that was off due to splint bone fracture/surgery). Always on LF, varies from mild shortness when forced to put more weight on it (turning left) to dead lame. Have done all sorts of vet workups, given it time, shoeing, injections, soaked/ichthamol for abscess, etc. X-rays showed nothing. Ultrasound of suspensory (around fracture) totally clean.

    Around Feb, vet recommended going ahead and injecting coffin joint as it could have just been bad bruise or some inflammation that didn't show up. Took a few days but seemed to help.

    Spring season went relatively well. One or two periods where he was off but not for long, thought it was abscess, bruise, etc.

    Come June, just consistently short/off. Ended up doing glueons because farrier thought crappy hoof walls might just need some time to rest. Seemed to help for a while. Went back to regular shoes and seemed great, did competition in August and came back fine. Worked another two weeks but then off again. Bute helped some. Work didn't really make it worse except noticed he was worse after a jump lesson.

    I decided I was tired of playing games, and went back to vet for diagnostic workup. X-ray showed nothing. This time vet ultrasounded foot and barely found what we believe to be the issue. Turns out the lower edge of his coffin joint is degenerating. It's not arthritis, it's not navicular, it's just this one edge of the joint that isn't as smooth as it should be. No particular reason why, could have been from racing, or recent, who knows. Vet went in and found pressure in the joint. Drained it all out, and injected again.

    He had a couple days off/just walking, and I flatted him in the ring last night for the first time since and he seems much better.

    Vet's opinion is to keep him on 1g bute/day and he will tell us whenever it hurts again and needs another injection. Of course my first question is what does this mean in terms of maintenance, how long will he last, etc. because of course I love riding him and had huge plans but I'm not going to break him. He said he could last 6 months, a year, 10 years, we don't know. We just continue the maintenance but when he needs maintenance more frequently we will know when it's not worth it. Switching disciplines is a possibility but with the care we already take to not ride on really hard ground, etc., it won't make a huge difference. No shoeing changes necessary, vet said farrier doing great and will not help to make any changes.

    So, now that I'm over feeling bad for myself and crying about this awesome horse maybe never getting to do more of what he loves (anyone who has seen my horse go XC knows), I compiled questions after questions and made more phone calls to vet and trainer (who has great relationship with vet), I feel more comfortable about the situation and understand that we just need to see where it goes. Horse will have a forever home (alongside my retired mare) and will never be pushed to do more than he's comfortable with, but of course I want to continue riding and competing him.

    Last night, BM and I were talking about other things we can do to make him more comfortable. Thought about packing his feet with forshner's during XC and wanted to get your opinions on that. I planned on packing his feet along with another other leg wrapping, liniment or whatever needed doing after XC, but had never thought about it during my ride. Anyone done it? Pros/cons? I was worried about it being slippery...

    Anyone know similar issue with coffin joint? Any experiences to share?

    Also, any more questions I have failed to think of? I didn't put a lot of info on here for sake of your ears (eyes?) but definitely would love to hear other opinions...


  • #2
    You're not going to like this suggestion, but what about his DDFT? With that package of symptoms, I'd be wondering if that's not a possibility. 'Course, you need to do an MRI to tell, and that's wicked expensive, but still . . .

    I would not pack feet while competing. However, there are pads that will ease/distribute some of the pounding - can help, but only to a limited extent.


    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by GotSpots View Post
      You're not going to like this suggestion, but what about his DDFT? With that package of symptoms, I'd be wondering if that's not a possibility. 'Course, you need to do an MRI to tell, and that's wicked expensive, but still . . .

      I would not pack feet while competing. However, there are pads that will ease/distribute some of the pounding - can help, but only to a limited extent.
      Had to google that one


      Will definitely add this to my list. At this point I am not averse to spending more money on diagnostics, and upon recommendation by my trainer, was contemplating a second opinion (although the vet used is his personal favorite and VERY highly respected).

      Tried pour-in pads last time and didn't help at all. Will talk to farrier again but vet seemed to think none of it would be worthwhile.


      • #4
        I figure sooner or later in horses you start at least seeing the same injuries and issues come up - though they do tend to come in waves, possibly caused by the latest fad in diagnostics...

        Actually though, I was thinking more soft tissue injury to the DDFT, which is a sub-optimal finding, rather than just "tension" - but either way, with a persistent NQR finding in a foot that isn't responding to lots of the easy answers, it's something I'd think about. I'm often a fan of a second opinion as well - depends on where you are, but an experienced sporthorse vet would be familiar with the issue.
        Last edited by GotSpots; Sep. 15, 2009, 11:18 PM.


        • #5
          Originally posted by inquisitive View Post
          Anyone know similar issue with coffin joint? Any experiences to share?

          Also, any more questions I have failed to think of? I didn't put a lot of info on here for sake of your ears (eyes?) but definitely would love to hear other opinions...


          Had similar issues with one of my horses...blocked out as her foot. Did xrays etc. Improved with coffin joint injection. In the end, I was concerned about a DDFT or other soft tissue issue. I finally broke down and we did an MRI (standing MRI)....it is expensive and she wasn't insured but I was tired of guessing. Turns out she has a bone cyst right below her coffin joint....wasn't seen on the digital xrays...just the MRI. This isn't somthing my vet had ever heard off but that is probably because it is something really not able to be seen unless you do an MRI. I think it will be something that people find more often as MRIs have become a bit more available. She presented very similar to your horse. Wasn't much of an issue until her work load increased....I'm hoping we can manage her for a useful life but her prospects as an UL horse are basically over. But at least we know what we are dealing with.

          Since nothing clear is showing up on the xrays or ultrasound....and if it has blocked as foot...get an MRI if you can.

          Until you have a good idea with what is wrong...I think you are just flushing money in trying random treatments. Good luck!
          Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Sep. 17, 2009, 09:41 AM. Reason: to be a bit more clear
          ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


          • #6
            You may think this is crazy, but I had the same thing happen to my horse. Always left front, varying degrees of lameness.
            After hundreds of hours at the vet, every x-ray and ultra sound starting from the hooves up (all 4 legs) we found the problem.
            Right stifle abnormality. Injected it with HA. Began a feed through HA (Lubrisyn) and IM Adequan with IV Legend during competetions.
            He is almost 16 years old. Has run prelim and intermediate most of his life. Has 2 old bowed tendons. Since the revelation of the stifle issue (July 2008) I have run him in 11 recognized horse trials (at training).
            He has been sound for over a year now. I just did another injection in the stifle in August because he did not seem like he was pushing off evenly behind, and a little off on the left front. He is back to 100% after the second injection.
            Good luck. I figured I would share my story just in case your guy has a rear end issue masked as a left front problem like mine did!


            • #7
              My NQR in front horse, complete with "abscesses" that didn't present quite like abscesses turned out to be a soft tissue injury in the hoof capsule. Collateral ligaments b/w P3 and P2. Diagnosed by standing MRI ($1700). Different than the OP's horse b/c there was nothing on the radiographs. Shockwave/IRAP followed by rehab and the horse is jumping again. Looks better than he did for months prior to the diagnosis so it had probably been going on for awhile.

              Showed up ever-so-slightly short about a week ago. Vet came out and did a normal (hyaluronic acid...) injection of the coffin joint last week and the word from the barn this AM is that he looked great. Onward we forge...
              The Evil Chem Prof


              • #8
                Ouch, these stories are so familiar. My off and on NQR horse has perfectly clean x-rays, good flexions, etc. Blocking the whole left foot got 100% soundness. Ultrasound indicated collateral ligament injury around p2, p3 and DDFT where it attaches to the hoof. Vet would like to do an MRI, but the horse is uninsured and it is just not possible. We are treating with shockwave, barshoes and rest. We are 3 weeks in. Peggy, I'm happy to hear your horse was jumping again. I'm hoping this is not permanent retirement for my horse, but we'll see with time. Vet recommends 2 more shockwave treatments ($$ one for CL and one for DDFT each time $$) OP, I took my horse to Dr. Kent Allen in Middleburg. It might be worth a second opinion. Good luck.


                • #9
                  Spending the money now on a good set of Diagnostics including an MRI is money saved later by not spending on more stabs in the dark. It is amazing what an MRI image can reveal, and once you have a diagnosis it is so much easier to treat, and shoe for a condition than to keep constantly changing plans and ideas.

                  Diagnosis and consistant treatment within the diagnosis is what gets and keeps horses sound.

                  Again opinions are like ***holes and everyone has one. My 2 cents worth.

                  DL CJF
                  If Ignorance is bliss, then why are there not more happy people in the world?

                  Definition of a Brain Fart: The involuntary release of Ignorance