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Saddle fit, SI, muscle soreness, or something else?

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  • Saddle fit, SI, muscle soreness, or something else?

    Hi everyone!

    My gelding has been not quite right the past 2 or 3 rides. I first noticed he was more willing to canter on his right lead than his left (complete opposite to how he usually travels), then this last ride he seemed completely unable to hold his left lead at all. Right lead was mostly fine (with his typical protesting -- he is young and very sensitive, still learning proper cues), but left lead could only make a few strides before switching the back. Ended with him so upset he was half-rearing before I gave up and went back to trotwork.

    Here's the thing -- he is completely normal at the walk and trot. That last ride I even got a really nice long and (kinda) low stretch out of him -- very rare! He does have some reaction to palpating his back, but it's hard to tell if it's due to soreness or just him being sensitive. I have a saddle fitter coming out ASAP (3 weeks out...), and have decided to give him a week off with just lunging to keep him sane, then I will reevaluate. I should note that he is able to hold his left lead on the lunge, but he seems very tense.

    The saddle fit is an obvious check, but I'm concerned there may be some other underlying issue. From the research I've done, SI seems likely as well. Could also be hocks, or maybe he just needs chiro/massage. Thoughts?

    If he doesn't improve after his saddle fitting, I'll be getting the vet out for sure

  • #2
    I would guess it is not saddle fitting since it is also happening on the lunge line. Also it it not that normal to have one sided issues in regards to saddle fit issues. Normally it is both sides.
    Jacobson's Saddlery, LLC
    www.thesaddlefits.com
    Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Fitter

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    • #3
      He sounds a lot like my guy before I had SI injected. But it still takes a lot of conditioning after the injection to "fix" the problem. Try palpating right behind the hipbones to see if you get a reaction. Mine would drop practically to the ground when he was having SI issues. If you haven't already, I would bring a good lameness vet in to diagnose. Chiros, saddle fitter and bute didn't help me at all.

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      • #4
        Not sure where you are located, but Lyme disease comes to mind. Your horse seems similar to what was happening to mine. Turns out he tested VERY positive for Lyme.

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        • #5
          Issue that appear only in the canter are classic SI - although I will second the Lyme idea as well. It can look like so many things.

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          • #6
            SI and saddle fit are both likely culprits, so having both checked is a good idea.

            Take a very good look, also, at his feet - particularly fronts. Look at heel height, frog condition, overall balance etc. Canter reluctance was something my mare exhibited when her feet got seriously out of whack.

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            • #7
              I would look at the feet -- take a hard look at all four. Angles, medial lateral balance, heels. A lot of issues in the back are secondary to the feet. I would also take a look at the cervical spine. Poor feet angles can impact neck and shoulder soreness, or there can be some early arthritis or something causing him pain. I am having some serious farrier woes this year and when my horse's toes get too long and heels too underrun, he gets out of whack in his lower neck, lower back, and then his whole body. On bad days, he can get as upset and frustrated as your horse did. The chiro has helped him combat body soreness while I continue the quest for a competent farrier :/

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              • #8
                Another vote for feet my gelding started getting short on his left lead and ultimately I had to decide to go with a new farrier to get him back on track. Vet came out and did some imaging and we figured out his angles and balance and he's been perfect since. some simple x-rays can show you what you need and if you have a good vet/farrier team it should be a relatively easy fix.
                when the world turns on you your horse will be there.
                -ariah

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                • #9
                  So my horse was having trouble being one sided, stiff, uncomfortable, really reactive or blowing up to seemingly simple things (18" crossrail where he was schooling 3'6" previously, for example.)

                  We spent a while chasing what we thought was the issue but turned out to be symptoms. We did injections (SI, hocks, stifles, all spaced out), xrayed his hind feet and his angles were bad so corrective shoeing, tried a month of Equioxx just to calm down the irritation, but it got to a point where we were chasing a mysterious pain that seemed to fluctuate in both intensity and location.

                  We tested for Lyme and he is chronic positive (~3700 on the Cornell test.) I did a month of Doxy with him, and he's a different horse.

                  The test is cheap (~$100), so if it were me, I'd test for that first. It's much easier to rule that out (or if he's positive, treat it) than to chase symptoms and spend $$$ that isn't truly fixing the problem (if he ends up being positive for Lyme.) I kick myself for not starting there vs doing all of the other treatments we tried, so now if someone is having these issues IMO testing for Lyme is a good place to start.

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                  • #10
                    Lyme is rare but not non-existent in Colorado. I found a tick on a horse for the first time here this past summer.

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                    • #11
                      How old is he? Sometimes a young horse can be awkward and unbalanced and unable to hold a certain lead while cantering . I think I had one who was 4, newly started who did this when we first started canter work. As he gained strength and fitness it went away. It just took some time.

                      Of course you want to rule out any possible physical issues.

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