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Mystery Lameness: What do you guys see? UPDATE: Tentative Diagnosis

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  • Mystery Lameness: What do you guys see? UPDATE: Tentative Diagnosis

    This might end up being a bit of a novel, so I apologize ahead of time. TL;DR: I just got my first horse back, she is lame, vet is baffled, looked better (less lame) during flexion tests, blocked hind feet which made her worse, and injected SI and some of her lower back last Friday (a week ago), she seems more comfortable than she was but is still lame. Adding links to video from yesterday, would like advice on where people think it is coming from.

    So a bit of background. I just recently got my first horse, a little 14.3 hh quarter horse mare, back from her recent owner. I sold her two years ago to the only other person that mare has ever really liked, this sassy little 13 year old girl that was more than a match for Twilight (Twi)'s antics, they did some local jumpers up to 3 feet, schooling about 3 to 3'6. After about a year, though, the girl wasn't as interested in riding (hello teenager) and her sister had two expensive jumpers so they couldn't afford to just have Twi hanging out in the pasture. I couldn't buy her back then, so they sold her to this adult ammy girl back in March. Really nice lady, they got me in touch with her so I could keep up with how Twi was doing.

    The first few months this lady had her, we will call her New Owner, NO, Twi had some health issues. Needed teeth done really bad, follicular cyst, and lame in the hind end. They got their vet out and the teeth and cyst taken care of, and she was put on previcox for the lameness (not sure what diagnostics they actually did, think just a basic lameness exam, no xrays or anything). Once the BO at the place Twi was at decided she was sound again, NO tried riding her and had a ton of trouble. She was being pushy on the ground, bolting and bucking on the lunge, rearing under saddle. I came to help her a few times, I didn't really think she was sound but the BO insisted she just needed to be ridden through it. NO moved Twi to a new barn (that one had technically closed down, they were letting NO keep Twi there for a bit), and I went out to try to help her. It took me about five minutes to get Twi acting normal on the ground again, I think she had just figured out she could push NO around. But she was still definitely not sound under saddle. NO didn't want to do more diagnostics so she decided to just walk her under saddle for a couple weeks and see where she was at.

    Fast forward a week and NO texted saying she didn't think it was going to work out. I was kind of glad, because I didn't think they were a good match (she was a bit too timid and T can be a spitfire). She asked if I would want to have her back, just giving her back to me. I jumped at the chance, of course. More than happy to have her back. So I am now trying to figure out what is going on with her, lameness wise.

    I took Twi to the vet (a different one than the one NO used), and did a lameness exam on her. I wish I had video from that day, you could tell she was NQR but it was unclear where it was coming from. I really was thinking right hind, maybe stifle, but she was actually moving better during the flexion tests. As in, vet flexed, and she moved off amazing.

    At a loss, the vet suggested we try blocking her hind feet and see if maybe it was foot soreness, you could see a lot of bruising and she had no hind shoes. Tried that, and she was WORSE. You could really see her limping then. We had two farriers and a crowd of people watching us at this point, having me lunge her and jogging lines and riding. Since we still couldn't really tell what leg it was, the vet didn't want to just start blocking both legs to see what helped at this point, he didn't feel like it was coming from her legs anyways. After a lot of discussion, we decided to inject her SI joint and a bit of her back right above the SI joint, as he really thought it was probably SI or back but didn't think xrays would tell much. We had instructions to let her rest five days with just some handwalking then try bringing her back to work and letting him know how it looked.

    As you can see in the links, it doesn't look great. She is definitely limping, spooking and bolting randomly (she isn't typically a spooky horse), bucking (she has always been a bucker). Now, she does have a history of going lame when she isn't in work, and then being completely fine once she is back in shape. Her dam had locking stifles.

    My friend wants me to get a chiropractor to look at her before I take her back to the vet, she swears up and down that Twi looks just like her horse when he is out in his hips. I'm just not sure if I should spend the money getting a chiro to look at her first, and then going to the vet if it doesn't make a difference, or going to the vet first and then trying chiro if he just can't figure it out. It's quite frustrating. If she isn't ever sound to ride, that's fine, I can find her a good place to let her be a pasture pet. That is no problem. But I don't want her to hurt. And if she has something going on that can be fixed, and still have a job, that would be ideal. She is only 13 and has never been one to do well not being in work. And while I can spend some money, I can't do like thousands of dollars doing a lot of fancy work trying to figure out what is going on right now.

    There are so many people here that are really good at judging lameness issues, so I would really appreciate if anyone can tell me what they are seeing and any advice you might have. This horse has done so much for me, and I don't like her not feeling her best.

    Lunging with a saddle on (I was thinking maybe it was the saddle that was making her lame, it isn't a great fit, bridges a bit):

    Lunging without a saddle (after I took it off):

    I have some videos lungeing her in the pasture before I brought her in, and she looked slightly better, but it was also on very uneven ground and she kept spooking at the treeline so it isn't a great video to try to judge lameness from.

    Thanks for any advice anyone might have.
    Last edited by RainWeasley; Oct. 30, 2019, 05:21 PM.

  • merrygoround
    Something to keep in mind. Horses on the verge of laminitis sometimes show lethargy and an I hurt all over body attitude.

    Good luck with "slenderella" in the future.

    Leave a comment:

  • x-halt-salute
    Walking is a great way to ease back into work. Sounds like you've got a solid plan and team. And a happy mare! I love your photos -- somehow all of my horse-at-play photography events end up capturing the derpy moments between feats of athleticism, but yours paint a great picture of how frisky she's feeling. May the contentment and improved soundness continue!

    Leave a comment:

  • kashmere
    those pictures are great! She's clearly feeling pretty good in her skin!

    Love love love all the care and attention you've put into helping this girl come around and feel better.

    Leave a comment:

  • Lunabear1988
    I hope she continues to feel good!

    Leave a comment:

  • RainWeasley
    I lunged her for a few minutes a few days ago, and there miiiight still be a bit of a hitch but it's really subtle if it's there. I had another chiro come out wednesday that was recommended to me by a bunch of people and also happens to work closely with the vet that had diagnosed her. He was shocked at how messed up she was. The difference in how she moved right after adjustments was quite frankly amazing. Lunged her for a second again yesterday to see how she looked, about the same, there miiiight be a tiny hitch if I'm really looking for it but I could also be imagining it.

    After discussion with the chiro and the vet, we have decided to begin light walking under saddle. I'm going to start with ten minutes at a time for a week, reevaluate and bump up to 15 if she still looks okay, just stick with walking for a while. If it starts looking like its regressing at all, we will stop everything and go back to pasture rest until I can take her back up.

    Fingers crossed she stays good!

    I thought you guys might enjoy her displays of her athleticism though, she feels much better:
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  • _Zara
    I hope she feels better!

    I had a little mare delivered to my new barn, and after a kinda traumatically long trailer ride she was never quite right after. Went through all of the Dx stuff, ruled out legs, maybe thought it was SI, injected that without any improvement.

    After poking and prodding the crap out of her, I threw in the vetting towel and retired her to a friend who just wanted something to eat grass with her goats. After 6 months of doing nothing but eating grass, she's right as rain and my friend now has a perfectly healthy top of the line large pony for her kids to learn on - free of charge

    Sometimes they can really surprise you!

    Leave a comment:

  • WildLittleWren
    Thanks for the update! Crossing fingers she comes 100% sound for you SOON!

    Leave a comment:

  • RainWeasley
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    She was, at least, very happy to get to go out finally. She is almost back to her normal weight, could probably stand to lose 50 or so more pounds but with winter here I'm not going to stress much about the last little bit. So beyond the lameness, we are back to healthy!

    Leave a comment:

  • RainWeasley
    So, the month is up. For several reasons, I'm not able to drive her up to that vet, probably won't be able to for a few months. I chatted with him about our options though, and we decided that she can go ahead and be turned back out. If she was sound, she could be slowly started back into work, otherwise just let her be on pasture rest either until she is looking better or I can get her back up there.

    Unfortunately, when I did go to lunge her for a second to see if there was any improvement, while she looked much better, and looks 100% going straight, she still has a bit of a hitch on that right hind. Unclear as to whether it just hasn't fully healed yet or it is something else going on too. So she will be on pasture rest for a bit until I can get her back up there. I might check her again in a week or so in case it was maybe just muscle memory and her thinking she still needed to guard it, or maybe did something that tweaked it, but I'm pretty sure that's not the case.

    At any rate, barring her healing while on pasture rest, it will probably be a few months before I have more updates. Thanks to everyone that has been following and offering advice and well wishes, we both really appreciate it!

    Leave a comment:

  • x-halt-salute
    Only torn meniscus experience I have is human knee, not equine stifle, so I'm afraid I have no insights or advice on that ... But I'm SO glad to hear that you got a diagnosis and are moving forward with treatment. She's lucky to have you looking out for her.

    Wishing her a good recovery, and keeping my fingers crossed that this is just the ticket for getting her feeling better.

    Leave a comment:

  • Quinn
    Wishing you all the very best. Also, adding my thanks for being such a responsible owner.

    Leave a comment:

  • beowulf
    Thank you for the update -- and glad your vet believes it has a good prognosis.

    I had a TB with a torn meniscus. Depending on how severe the tear is, the prognosis can be good or bad. For my gelding, prognosis was not so great. Some things that helped my gelding - FTR, his was quite severe, and he always had a hitch in his get-along even after it was 100% healed.
    - Pentosan / Adequan / Legend
    - 100% no holds barred turnout. If my gelding even saw two hours of stall time he became so sore. Horses with old stifle injuries need to move around, as that joint gets quickly inflamed when not in motion
    - Estrone and hill work the first two months back to work
    - VERY slow return to work. Mine was severe, I took over a year to even canter in the ring
    - Avoid lunging and circles
    - Staying on top of hoof angles and/or shoes behind as well
    - Once healed, stifle injections yearly

    Good luck and keep us updated. Glad you guys have some direction now in which to go. Chasing unknown lamenesses is never fun.

    Leave a comment:

  • kashmere
    Super interesting read all through - but mostly wanted to just say thank you RainWeasley for not only taking back your old girl but putting so much time, energy, and $$ into helping her out.

    Leave a comment:

  • WildLittleWren
    Thanks for the update and praying that this will heal for you. Jingling!

    Leave a comment:

  • Peggy
    Thank you for updating and jingles that this is it.

    Leave a comment:

  • Postandrails
    I can't offer any help, but just want to wish you both well. I hope you see good improvement over the next few weeks!

    Leave a comment:

  • RainWeasley

    Just got home from the vet that was recommended to me, Dr. Wooten. He was much more thorough than the first vet and obviously knew what he was doing.

    After lungeing, flexions (better ones than First Vet did), a couple xrays of that right stifle, a nerve block on the stifle which made a HUGE difference (short striding still there but she was obviously moving out extremely better, and this was immediately after the block too), and an ultrasound, the current diagnosis is a torn meniscus.

    With the degree of lameness she was showing and how the US looks, he thinks the prognosis is extremely good. He has had good results with PRP so she stayed up there overnight while they get that prepared, and I will go pick her up tomorrow.

    Then it will be a month of stall rest/mini paddock if I can get panels to build one, with handwalking every day. She can move, just doesn't need to be cavorting around like a fool. Then back for a checkup in a month.

    Here's the thing though: we are really hoping this is it. But, if the month goes by and there is no improvement, there is likely something deeper in the joint going on. So she would need surgery, which I can't afford after these vet bills. I would probably have to put her out to pasture and pray it doesn't get worse while I pay this off. I wish she was insured, but I never knew it was a thing before I sold her and by the time I got her back she was already having issues. Ugh. She could use jingles, hoping this is The Answer and we can get it fixed up.

    At any rate, I highly recommend Dr Wooten at the Jaeckle Center in Thompsons Station, TN. He was fantastic with Twi and I was really impressed by him.

    Also, if anyone reading this has dealt with a torn meniscus before and knows of anything that might help her heal, please share!

    Leave a comment:

  • RainWeasley
    Originally posted by Hawks Nest View Post
    You mentioned she has a somewhat tender lump by one of her hips? So I knew a horse who slipped and fell and chipped off a piece of the point of his hip, injuring all of the soft tissue in that area. The initial lameness was extreme but within a few weeks he was lame in a very specific way. If we hadn't witnessed the injury it would have been an odd one.

    So what hurt was actually a particular part of the swinging motion, I think the last little bit of bringing the leg forward and down. He was short but not obviously lame and if you didn't know what you were looking for it could be quite hard to pinpoint where it was. He recovered fine but it took a long time for that little odd step to go away and we had to really work him through it to show him he could use his leg properly again. It took all summer but he is back jumping and everything now.

    Moral of the story is muscle and soft tissue in that area can affect the gate in weird ways and can sometimes require work and PT to get them through it. Unlike tendon/ligament or bone damage, muscle pulls and strains will get worse if you don't do anything with them and will only get better if you do the right sort of stretching and movements.
    That's one of the the things on my radar too... I am just worried about doing too much work until I know for sure, in case it's something that needs rest, not work or stretching or anything. There are just so many things it could be, some that might need rest, some that might need work. Makes it really frustrating. If we can at least rule out bone or ligament/tendon, then we can proceed with PT and massage.

    Leave a comment:

  • Hawks Nest
    You mentioned she has a somewhat tender lump by one of her hips? So I knew a horse who slipped and fell and chipped off a piece of the point of his hip, injuring all of the soft tissue in that area. The initial lameness was extreme but within a few weeks he was lame in a very specific way. If we hadn't witnessed the injury it would have been an odd one.

    So what hurt was actually a particular part of the swinging motion, I think the last little bit of bringing the leg forward and down. He was short but not obviously lame and if you didn't know what you were looking for it could be quite hard to pinpoint where it was. He recovered fine but it took a long time for that little odd step to go away and we had to really work him through it to show him he could use his leg properly again. It took all summer but he is back jumping and everything now.

    Moral of the story is muscle and soft tissue in that area can affect the gate in weird ways and can sometimes require work and PT to get them through it. Unlike tendon/ligament or bone damage, muscle pulls and strains will get worse if you don't do anything with them and will only get better if you do the right sort of stretching and movements.

    Leave a comment: