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What would you do? Mystery on and off lameness.

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  • What would you do? Mystery on and off lameness.

    I have a 2005 JC gelding that was taken off the track last December.. he raced close to 30 times and I mention this because I'm sure he has or will have arthritis and other issues as a result. Anyway.. he was given to a very good friend of mine, who had no use for him and gave him to me. He was sound when he came but in VERY poor condition... think concentration camp victim with fiery ulcers and when my friend went to look at him he only had 1 shoe.. when he was delivered he had thrown that one - luckilly didn't tear his feet up too badly.
    Anyways, we did a round of rantidine for the ulcers and he has put on a ton of weight but now we are having some soundness issues. It started a few weeks ago. I rode him lightly and then he immediately had his feet done - like I dismounted and my farrier trimmed before he was even untacked -after which he walked off NQR in his right front knee. He does have some calcification in that knee so we figured the flexion from the trim had aggravated it or caused some inflammation. Cleared up in about a day..

    A few days later he walked out of his stall dead lame in the hind end. I had an appointment with the vet for another horse a few days later so I kept him on stall rest and figured I'd wait for that. He was sound again by that day. My appointment was at 3pm, vet had an emergency and didn't make it out until after 8 pm so I stupidly didn't end up having him looked at that day.

    Since then his soundness is very on and on - and it seems to switch legs. No heat, swelling, anything out of the ordinary anywhere. Standing exacerbates it. Some days in the morning he walks out of his stall dead lame again, but after walking down the barn aisle he is only just a little off - and by the time he comes in from being turned out all day he is 100% sound.

    I don't have money to take xrays of EVERYTHING. I need an idea to start out with.. and my vet is WONDERFUL but he is the kind of guy that he has to rule absolutely everything out, and run every test - which I love about him usually - but I can't afford to go that route right now. My friend and I are starting to suspect his SI joint.. the more info I read about it online the more it seems to fit. I'm thinking of having a chrio out first - but at the same time I don't really want to put off having the vet out if it is something serious. Like I said he works himself out of it very quickly, it's very on and off, it's not getting worse and may be getting better, but it doesn't seem to be completely going away. I'm also wondering if it's just not a result of what horrid condition he came in and maybe he's having some pain while his feet are growing out and muscles are starting to build.

    I realize I gave like 2 symptoms and I don't expect (or want) anyone to try to diagnose my horse over the internet but I just thought I'd come here and ask if maybe it rings a bell to someone who had a similar situation or just for anyone who might have an opinion to offer.

  • #2
    my SO's horse has been off and on lame since he got him (3 months ago). Sometimes hes sound, sometimes hes head bobbing. Finally got the vet out this morning. Since it was switching legs (only LF and RF though) he first thought founder or navicular. THANK GOD it appears to be neither.

    Horsey ended up being heel sore. We're trimming more toe off this afternoon and putting front shoes on. Vet even said we could try backwards shoes...he said it works the same way as the customs egg bar(or something like that) but less expensive.

    I have no clue if this is anything like yours--but I would look at feet just to be sure.Good luck!
    Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
    White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

    Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.


    • #3
      oh it could be so many things. I've taken in a few rescues with unknown histories - and a few times this has cropped up.


      horsie #1 ottb gelding: big (ish) knee. xrayed and there was nothing there...however a bone (its been a long time so i forget) in both front hooves were demineralizing. Vet attributed this to years and years (he raced for a long time) of being kept with very long toes and no heel.

      horse #2 episode A: (when i first got her) on again/off again for weeks in the hind. blew abscesses many weeks apart.

      horse #2 episode B: high/low in the fronts, on the high side had a bit of a big shoulder. Films of both fronts showed a severe demineralization of the high hoof.

      horse #3: left hind swelling - stall rest/ wrapping made it better, went away, then one day came back, raging. Xray revealed bone chip that needed to be removed. Was removed in December 2010, layed up for a bit, and now lightly exercising - almost in regular work.

      horse #4 (not mine) no swelling, but lame in hind on again off again. I forget exactly what my friend said it was, but appears localized to stifles.

      horse #5 (not mine) laminitis. total change of regimen for him: put on low carb, restricted grazing, some new hoof care and voila - fixed.
      My blog: Change of Pace - Retraining a standardbred via dressage


      • #4
        Lameness that is intermittent and seems to switch legs is a hallmark of Lyme disease. I'd have the vet pull blood for testing.


        • #5
          NOt a suggestion to replace a call to the vet, but maybe put him on msm, 20 g/day for a little while and try to maximize his turnout time. he may be very stiff.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks so much for the replies! I went through some pretty acute navicular changes with my other mare last summer (who is now back to being 90% sound due to my awesome farrier, vet told me she'd never get back to this point, and barefoot and no meds too!) so I'm kind of beating my head against the wall here. This guy was not planned and I did not have the option of doing a PPE on him.

            I have started him on MSM.. but just started it saturday so not long enough to tell if it's doing anything.

            I think some of it has to do with his feet, which my farrier says are not horrible in comparison to his condition and that it's just going to take time being on a good diet, etc.

            I really do suspect something in the hind end/pelvis area though. and I can't even tell you why exactly.. just a hunch I guess. He's a little sensitive back there but no red flags.

            Unfortunately my barn has limited turnout. I try to get 12 hours a day but if it's wet or rainy (which it's been for a month, other than the past week or so) there's no turnout, and it's a pretty small area as well. I think 24/7 turnout would do him a WORLD of good.


            • #7
              maybe a chiropractic adjustment? a lot of horses coming off the track are way out, and it seems to make a world of difference.


              • Original Poster

                Unless he gets worse I think I'm going to put him back in light work (long lining, no riding or lunging) and have a chiro out.. then if not better go for the vet and have a set limit of what I can spend. I hate to do that but unfortunately money is an issue right now.


                • #9
                  You have had him 6 months and he was right off the track then and neglected???

                  Last few OTTs my friends have picked up spent months blowing abcesses. I have no idea why and the vets and farriers don't either, best guess is being shot full of crap and long term nutritional difficiencies even though they were in decent weight and condition.

                  This is one case where I will agree it MIGHT be abcesses. If their feet hurt, some will hurt worse then others and they compensate and get sore elsewhere...also it's hard to limp when all your feet hurt so they may appear more sound some days then others. They all got pretty body sore from gimping around on those sore feet.

                  Honestly, I would not use money for chiro right now, I would get the vet to just look at the feet and block from there up or just shoot some rads-it won't be THAT expensive and you will know why he is so sore. If the vet wants to do all or nothing on a full workup and you can't swing that? Get another vet willing to just look at the feet and take some pictures.

                  Get him growing some good feet too, many great supplements out there. Can't hurt/might help.
                  When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                  The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                  • #10
                    I'd start with massage and, if not enough turn out is available, long lining is also a good idea.

                    I know I'm always tooting this horn but Jim Masterson has an awesome DVD that shows massage techniques that are very, very clear. I've been using what I learned on my own OTTB for a couple of years and it's made a huge difference. It costs less than one pro massage (yes, I know a pro massage is usually better but I think that learning some basic techniques that you can do on an as needed basis is very valuable).

                    His YouTube Channel has some helpful videos on it so you can get a sense for his technique. http://www.youtube.com/user/mastersonmethod

                    I'd also test for Lyme because the shifting lameness is one of the symptoms.

                    Good luck!
                    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                    • Original Poster

                      No, I didn't get him directly off the track Just added that in since it's probably a factor.

                      I've only had him a little over a month.


                      • Original Poster

                        Not related to this particular situation just kind of reminded me.. is there a way (other than google lol) to look up contact information on a racehorse trainer? I have the name of his trainer and would love to get in touch with him to see if I can find more info on this guy. The people he came from can't seem to get their story straight.


                        • Original Poster

                          Oh also this horse has no muscling whatsoever which may be making whatever is wrong worse as well. I'm going to start slowly long lining at the walk and work up from there depending on how he handles it.

                          Whatever is going on he works out of it very very quicky.. like this morning for instance once he walked a few steps it was almost immediate.


                          • #14
                            I agree that it definitely could be many things. Life at the track is not always easy for these guys. From my experience I would say the odds are good that the root cause is wear and tear on the joints, ligaments, and tendons.

                            Have you thought about EasyWalker shoes?

                            I have about 15 OTTBs in my custom in them now and they really help with the mild arthritis and scar tissue from old injuries/strains.

                            If your guy is like most TBs I see he probably has wide flared out hooves with not much concavity in the sole. When he takes a step his sole is most likely smacking the ground and the concussion is traveling up his leg aggravating any old injury along them way.

                            Any shoes would get the soles a little higher off the ground but the EasyWalkers absorb a tremendous amount of shock. Plus because they are a bar shoe design they will give tons of support in the heel area which is another notorious TB trouble area.
                            Seth Parker- Farrier for Palm Beach & Broward, FL


                            • Original Poster

                              Thanks, I'll ask my farrier about those.

                              Another thing to mention he is a grandson of Unbridled, which I am now finding out that those lines have a lot of unsoundness issues.


                              • #16
                                Assuming the limited resources... this would be my plan.

                                1. Basic lameness exam from vet. From your description, I suspect soreness in the front feet. If that is the case, discuss with the vet whether you should block and/or x-ray those now, or wrap his feet, treat with Durasole, and re-evaluate after a few more trims. Have him pull a Lyme titer.

                                2. Assuming no major findings in the feet, get him on a short trim schedule with the farrier, good nutrition.

                                3. Start putting some muscle on him so you can really tell if the hind end is weak or wonky. Hand walk briskly at first, then up and down some hills. Jog him in hand on straight lines. Add longeing for 5-10 minutes once he has a little bit of muscle.

                                4. After 3 months, re-evaluate the hind end.

                                Personally, I'd wait on the chiro. IMHO, it's not a one time thing. If he has serious issues and no muscle, he may lose his adjustment after a few days or weeks. I'd have the chiro out after 3 months if you see anything amiss at that point.


                                • Original Poster

                                  I like your plan Joiedevie. I'm really going back and forth on the chiro - I've seen it do wonders and really think it would help him, but that's a good point that without the proper muscling it's not going to do much good. I realize it's usually not a one time thing, so I wasn't expecting a cure all.

                                  Another thing I'm worried about is that when I have the vet out he'll be fine that day (the reason he wasn't seen when the vet was out not too long ago) and he wont actually see what we're seeing. I guess I could take some videos or something just in case...


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Pretttywaste View Post
                                    Thanks, I'll ask my farrier about those.

                                    Another thing to mention he is a grandson of Unbridled, which I am now finding out that those lines have a lot of unsoundness issues.
                                    Some do, some don't and it is more with breakdowns, not feet, that get the press and cyberspace notoriety that gets parroted as knowledge from those who want to appear in the know then anything else. 50% comes from the dam, you know.

                                    Until you know what is going on in those feet, you don't know and might be throwing money at guesses treating what MIGHT be wrong.

                                    I still say find out what IS wrong and treat that instead of guessing and hoping for the best. Cost more short term, saves you beaucoup bucks long term.
                                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      A friend of mine is having a very well known chiro/dvm out to her place on Thursday and very kindly offered to let me haul my guy over for him to take a look - so I'm going to start there and see what he suggests. We are also starting to suspect cushings (even though he is very young for that...) and some other things, so I'm going to get this dr's opinion and then go ahead and have my regular vet out to pull some blood and do whatever he thinks is necessary.. I can't afford a bunch of diagnostics but I'll do as much as I can. Poor guy!


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Just a quick update.. he got his chiro adjustment and accupressure this morning. Chrio said he was completely misaligned from his withers all the way back and his hind end was so bad that he had absolutely no strength back there to do anything. The accupressure showed pain in his left front ankle and also very badly in his hocks -which he said may be a result of him being so out of whack for so long and trying to compensate different ways for it. He told me to give him a week to see if I see any improvement and then to call the vet if he's not better by then. I am still planning to call the vet either way because he's starting have some other symptoms that are concerning me but I'm hoping this will make him more comfortable.

                                        The poor guy was so uncomfortable, he wouldn't stand and even reared a few times - and this is the quietest horse I've ever met!

                                        I did notice that they had me walk him around for awhile afterwards and he walked off right away. He has always walked very slowly, almost dragging, and when you first ask him to walk he will refuse to move altogether for a minute or two before he gets moving. After this he was walking quickly and even prancing around looking like he thought he was still a big deal racehorse lol.