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What is going on with my horse?! Hock pain? PSSM? Other?

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  • What is going on with my horse?! Hock pain? PSSM? Other?

    Sigh. So, some of you may have noticed that I am posting on various topics as I attempt to figure out what the heck is wrong with my poor horse that is suddenly causing him to have so much trouble standing for the farrier, among other things.

    I've posted on PSSM and also on possible after effects of anaplasmosis recently as well. I AM in the process of switching him to a PSSM diet, as that seems to be a possible cause. But in the meantime, I am trying to chase down other possible causes.

    The vet recently mentioned that it could be hock pain bothering him. Some background/timeline:

    -horse is 7. OTTB. 8 starts; one third place finish. I've had him since age 3 1/2.

    -May 24, 2011 - Horse injured at horse show backing into arena drag. Lacerated right hock badly, requiring 14 staples. Treated with pen/gen antibiotics for 14 days. No apparent complications.

    -July 5, 2011 - Flexions and radiographs of hocks due to persistent stiffness behind (horse had been stiff behind prior to the hock laceration). Flexions were not great. Rads showed narrowing of lower hock joint space on right hind and small (very small) spur on left hind hock. Not particularly remarkable x-rays. Injected hocks on July 5, 2011.

    -August 19, 2011 - horse was very sound following hock injections, then suddenly very lame during ride. Flexed stifles. Positive. Injected stifles. Thereafter, horse soundest he has ever been in his life. I mean, unbelievably sound. Perfect.

    -November 2011 - horse diagnosed with anaplasmosis. Treated with oxy-tet. Recovered, but never came back the same, IMO. Found to be very out of whack chiropractically. Adjusted. Chiro adjustments held okay. Horse still not sound. Muscles very tight.

    Feb. 9, 2012 - After becoming a behavioral train wreck both on the ground and under saddle (trying his hardest to buck me off, for example, threatening to toss my ass picking up the right lead especially), had vet out again. Flexed (sort of...horse pretty much refused to be flexed) and took radiograph of right stifle. Stifle was clean on x-ray. Injected hocks based on flexions. Horse became pretty sound, but not as perfect as he had been prior to November 2011.

    April 18, 2012 - After some lingering mild lameness (he was stiff starting out but would work out of it; also, trouble holding the right lead, which is unusual for him), had stifles injected again. This improved him quite a bit and we were getting him back into full work.

    April 18, 2012-May 6, 2012 - bringing horse back into full work. Increasing soundness. He was occasionally having some trouble holding up his left hind leg for things that took longer than normal hoof picking, but it was so intermittent, and he is so touchy, that I assumed his problem was as simple as something like a fly on him that he wanted to stomp off.

    May 6, 2012 - Horse sound for full flatwork.

    May 7, 2012 - Horse jumped a handful of small cross rails with trainer. Trainer reported that he was sound.

    May 8, 2012 - Horse did full flatwork with me. Sound. Very sound. Did have some trouble holding up left hind leg while I was picking out hoof.

    May 9, 2012 - Trimmed and shod by (newer to him) farrier. Farrier called me and said he won't trim horse anymore. Horse was "terrible" and kept pulling left hind leg away and hopping on right hind. Horse profoundly lame after this farrier visit.

    May 10, 2012 - had vet out. Horse flexed very sore in left hock, but was more lame on right hind. Horse was determined to be very muscle sore in his butt. Vet did not think it was hoof related. Horse's butt muscles were very sore. Started him on a course of bute and robaxin. Bute and robaxin for five days, then just robaxin until this past Sunday, May 20. Horse improved about 70%. He's still short striding on the right hind, but does seem to work out of it/improve to some degree with a long warmup. By the end of working (15-20 minutes walk; 15 minutes trot), he is usually pretty darn sound. You would not look at him and think "that's a lame horse." However, I am still not cantering him yet because I am afraid to make the problem worse. He is doing better with picking up the left hind now, but it still isn't perfect and he will occasionally be unable to hold it up for a length of time.

    Anyway...very long winded here...sorry...has anyone had a horse be hock sore to the point of lameness and difficulty with farrier (to the point of hopping on opposing leg while one hind leg is lifted and slamming the lifted leg to the ground) this close after hock injections? His hocks were last done on February 9, 2012 and it is now May 23, 2012...so about 3 1/2 months out from hock injections right now. Something about that does not add up to me.

    Thoughts? Suggestions? Other possible causes? Just basic sympathy for the poor guy?

  • #2
    I'd love to see ground-level shots of his feet.... 4 Per hoof: straight on, lateral, medial and then solar. If he has typical long-toe, underrun issues common in the OTTB, it may very well explain his hock issues.
    <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


    • Original Poster

      ChocoMare - I will see what I can do. I'm honestly a bit hesitant to post hoof shots on COTH because I've seen threads of that nature go horribly, terribly awry.

      I'd say he has MUCH better feet than most TBs, both in terms of hoof quality and in terms of the underrun heel issue. He wears NB shoes in front and has for years after pulling a front suspensory when he was four. We try to keep on top of his toes/hoof balance.


      • #4
        Oh believe me, I totally understand! PM is our friend
        <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


        • #5
          But don't go totally off the boards with this. I'm very curious to hear what the PSSM diet does. I also have one with hind end issues, so I would like to follow what happens with this.
          "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

          Spay and neuter. Please.


          • #6
            My guy has had a slightly more compressed list of symptoms, but I'll tell you what I ended up doing for it. I was also thinking possible PSSM, but in our case I think it was a Se deficiency. The symptoms seem very similar. I never actually had my guy's Se levels tested, but 6 weeks of supplemental Se had a dramatic effect.

            My guy's story. 17yo Arab coming back into work after 10 years as a pasture puff (light dressage riding).

            About 3-4 months in, was great at the walk, terrible at the trot (refused to trot under saddle unless you REALLY got after him).

            Trainer thought hocks, so had the vet out, she flexed his hocks and he was positive, so we injected them (Dec).

            By mid/late Jan the behavior came back. No difference during a bute test. Started horse on Se supplement. Gave him 2 weeks off and at the end of it he was still super back sore and just not quite right.

            End of Feb sent him to trainer's farm for a month to have bigger turnout and turnout buddies to make him move (was in a smallish, solo turnout at our barn).

            By March he was better (would canter willingly on his own), but still not 100%. Vet back out and flexed everything. Equally bad on both hind legs, stifles worse than hocks. Back and stifle x-rays all clean. Injected SI figuring that was our last option (beginning of April).

            Once soreness from SI injection itself subsided I had a bodyworker work on him once a week for three weeks (Masterson method) and worked on building strength out on hills and outside of the ring.

            So far, so good! We're w/t/c cheerfully in and out of the ring. At our last vet check he flexed clean in 3 legs (still positive on RH stifle, but vet felt that we could leave it alone unless he started to have issues). Of course, he felt so much better that I pushed things too hard last week and made his butt sore, so we're doing another round of body work. But all in all things are finally on a positive trend.

            My guy is prone to a weak/sore back when out of shape, and in his case I think the sore back + Se deficiency just made everything else sore. The SI injection seems to have allowed things to "reset" to the point where he's now building strength and muscle properly.


            • #7
              Originally posted by monstrpony View Post
              But don't go totally off the boards with this. I'm very curious to hear what the PSSM diet does. I also have one with hind end issues, so I would like to follow what happens with this.
              Yes, please! I would like to hear too, and to hear if Chocomare thinks it is hoof related.


              • #8
                A neuro exam would be a good idea. Neurological problems can cause secondary orthopedic problems that can prevent a timely diagnosis.


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by flyracing View Post
                  A neuro exam would be a good idea. Neurological problems can cause secondary orthopedic problems that can prevent a timely diagnosis.
                  Sorry, should have been clearer on that. He has been evaluated for neuro issues and no one has felt that he is a neurological case (other than the suggestion that he could possibly have shivers along with possible PSSM). He was tested for EPM and Lyme about 4 months ago and had zero exposure (it is actually rare in my area to have zero EPM exposure because it is very common here...but his result came back with zero exposure).


                  • #10

                    Get him tested if you haven't already. His behavior sounds just like it.


                    • Original Poster

                      Would you re-test even though he was just tested for Lyme four months ago? He lives in Wisconsin. Lyme is not that common here, really. Although neither is anaplasmosis, and he did have that.

                      Another development tonight: he was quite lethargic and warm to the touch. Temp was 100.9, which is a bit high for him. His normal night time temp is 100.3. He was eating fine, drinking fine, pooping fine, etc.

                      I don't know. Maybe it could be Lyme. He does not have puffy legs like he did with the anaplasmosis.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by FineAlready View Post
                        Would you re-test even though he was just tested for Lyme four months ago? He lives in Wisconsin. Lyme is not that common here, really. Although neither is anaplasmosis, and he did have that.
                        I have no input on your horse's problems; just wanted to inform you that Wisconsin is actually a hot spot for Lyme (and anaplasmosis). MN/WI area is second only to the Mid-Atlantic/New England region for reported Lyme cases.


                        • Original Poster

                          Yes, I think parts of Wisconsin do have a lot of Lyme. However, it is not common around here specifically. I have not known a single horse in my area to have it. But if a horse is going to get it, I have no doubt it would be my horse. And I have heard that tick populations are higher this year. Hmmm. Perhaps I will pull blood again. I just looked at his test (which was from mid-January) and it was strongly negative. But that of course doesn't mean he hasn't picked it up since then.


                          • Original Poster

                            I stand corrected. A quick Lyme map search reveals that Lyme IS prevalent in my area of Wisconsin. I must admit, I am surprised. I have not heard of any human or horse cases of Lyme in the entire time I have lived here.


                            • #15
                              I am a broken record with this, but I encourage you to go read my tale of woe:


                              We went through a lot of the same things, and it wound up being arthritis in her neck causing mild neuro changes. It's definitely a zebra, but if you rule out all the horses...well, you might want to consider it.


                              • Original Poster

                                I will read it - thanks!


                                • #17
                                  Get His Neck X-rayed..............trust me on this one..won't go into detail but just do it.....


                                  • #18
                                    Bear in mind that chances are good he won't like your new diet. Whatever you do, do NOT give in to him when he tells you there is a dead rat in his food bowl. The diet is good for all horses, PSSM/EPSM or not, but it takes some adjustment. When I had Mikey, (severely EPSM TB) he would turn up his nose and refuse...It took a lot of willpower on my part! The thing that worked for us was that I would make him tiny meals-really tiny-and I'd give him his oil with a dose syringe. He'd get hungry, I'd increase his meal size, all would be good for a month or 2 or 3 then he'd say no, its gross and I'd begin again. It is a tricky balance but so worth it.
                                    Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      I'm going to pull blood for Lyme. I'm going to kind of triage the possible causes and try to rule things out one at a time. Still doing the PSSM stuff as well. I'd like to rule out/address systemic causes first and then start drilling down on orthopedic issues (like neck, etc.). I feel like things like a neck issue don't suffer as much from a slower diagnosis as things like Lyme, which can be irreversible/very bad if not addressed quickly.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Oh, and Simkie - I am reading your thread in total fascination. I'm on page 7 now and will certainly read the whole thing. It's very helpful, and thank you for sharing. A lot of things DO seem similar, and some don't. For one thing, our horses sound similar in disposition (emotional).

                                        I'm definitely putting "neck" on the list of things to be ruled in or out.