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Lame Thoroughbred Is... Still Lame: Final Update

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  • Lame Thoroughbred Is... Still Lame: Final Update

    I think I need to vent and assure myself this is not the end of the world more than anything.

    My OTTB is 7, and has a lovely history of lameness. I don't show, I ride for fun, and he and I have bonded since I rescued him just over two years ago. I'm at a great point in my life where I can afford a pasture puff, though I'm not sure he'd be thrilled with that.

    I updated about his last month because his stifles started locking again after not doing so for six months. We started rehabbing that, and he was doing BEAUTIFULLY. Just gorgeous. Then he got his feet done. He has always had tender ickle feetsies, and usually gets a week off serious work after having his feet done, because he staggers around on hard ground and tries very hard to float. Problem was, after a week and a half, he was still a little sticky in the front.

    I am a professional when it comes to panicking, and I was riding alone the day I felt this. I immediately called the vet, because it felt like riding a gaited washing machine, and my OTTB is, well, not gaited.

    Vet comes out the next day, and through hoof testers discovers hind right toe is sore, likely from the trimming. Through flex tests, vet feels right front is sore, fetlock/coffin bone joint area. True- he has arthritis in the front right. He always has. He's also base narrow, toes out on the left, and had a new gelding introduced in his pasture. Vet figures he tweaked something playing with the other boys. Recommends rest through the Labor Day weekend, and lunge him lightly the rest of that week to see if it improves. And it did, but not totally.

    So, I've been lunging lightly every other day- and I really mean "lightly." Just a handful of circles in each direction to warm him up, assess the situation, and see if he works out of it. He is improving- it's barely a whisper of lameness. In fact, four other people at the barn couldn't see it- granted, they don't have The Lameness Eye, but basically, he's not staggering or bobbling around obviously. I took a video last night, and I recognise this lameness. It's all front end, not every stride, impact related.

    Now here's the problem- my regular vet would typically say, "ok, let's try Adequan and see what happens." I know this because we've been here before, and that's what she said. She's currently out on medical though, so I have another vet in her practice. He wants to do a full nerve block and x-rays... but I would have to take a half day of work off. Sadly, I do not have that much time built up, because I just started this job. I might be able to wheedle some time next month. In the meantime, I asked Replacement Vet if I could try Adequan. He approved it, but doesn't feel it's going to help.

    So I feel like a complete horrible horse owner. I simply can't get the time off for the whole work up. I'm trying to think of things we can do in the meantime to keep him comfortable, which led me to Adequan, since we've done that in the past. It is possible that this is arthritis, but the panicked, knowledgable horse chick in me is freaked that I might be ignoring something horribly wrong with my horse. Regular Vet has never wanted to do a complete nerve block and x-rays- she always started with easier solutions with the idea that we would work up to things like that. And so far, she has been spot on!

    I need to just sing kumbaya to myself and shine it on until I can get some time to have the vet out. The Adequan should be here in a few days, and maybe it will help! Sometimes, being an intelligent, caring horse owner really makes things more stressful!

    UPDATE: video in post #20

    UPDATE UPDATE: I'm updating this as we hit milestones in the lameness, for anyone who is also experiencing an arthritic horse and needs some hand-holding.
    Last edited by erniewalker; Dec. 4, 2012, 05:24 PM.

  • #2
    I do think that a full workup, with blocks and x-rays is appropriate. However, I think you are totally fine to wait a bit before doing it so long as you just continue with very light work or not riding him (at least unless he becomes sound again on his own without intervention).

    From what you've described, this doesn't sound like the kind of problem that is going to cause great damage from waiting a bit until you are able to take the time off work for the big vet appointment.

    If it makes you feel better, could you have a trusted friend help the vet out so that he can have the appoitnment sooner?


    • Original Poster

      Thanks, FineAlready. That's what my gut is saying, too.

      I wish, wish, wish I had a friend who could help me out, but all of the horse people I know either work with me. The four people I mentioned (one of whom was the BO) that can't see the lameness would be willing to help, but they aren't very experienced and also work/have school during the day.

      Anything else you can think of to keep him comfortable while I wait for time off? He's been hanging out in his big fluffy (not lush) pasture, going for long hand-walks on the trail with me to give him something interesting to do, and the occasional lunge I described. He's on SmartFlex II daily, so he's getting some glucosamine/chondroiton/MSM- I know supplements are somewhat controversial, but I do notice a difference in him with and without. He's happy and cuddly as always, if not somewhat bored!


      • #4
        It's really not normal for a horse to be that sore after a trim, even a "sensitive" horse. I'd really investigate that if I were you. If his feet are still bruised and you feel that is a still a partial source of lameness, you can try packing them every night with a product like Magic Cushion.

        As for the fetlock - it may need to injected in order to make him comfortable and rideable, but I agree it's worth x-raying/blocking first to be complete. This may not change your treatment plan though.

        Can you drop off the horse at the vet clinic for the day for the workup?


        • #5
          The 2nd vet that is recommending the full workup with blocks and radiographs versus the "lets try this and see what happens" method is likely to get to the real root of the problem long before vet #1 and as a result be able to recommend the best course of treatment. It costs more intially for a work up but the heartache and money it can save over the long term is worth every penny. I've worked with both type of vets before and guess which one has a better record for getting horses sound and staying sound! I agree 100% with those that say a work up is in order.

          As far as what to do in the meantime? I agree that Adequan probably won't hurt and may actually help. But if you would like to try something different and also more affordable I would go with Pentosan. If your vet will call in a script to Wedgewood you can get an 8 dose vial for 120.00 approx. That is the 4 shot loading dose and then 4 additional doses so alot less than Adequan. Again, it can't hurt and very likely might help. It also won't hurt your pocketbook as much.

          It also wouldn't hurt to get a second opinion from another farrier that has a good reputation. I agree that a horse should not be sore from a shoeing.


          • #6
            horses shouldn't be sore after a trim. Ever.
            so if I have it right: trim. Sore. Other things got sore. Look to the root cause- sore after a trim. The rest of the soreness is probably just "I was sore so I was walking funny and that made other parts sore" which tends to be cured by fixing the root cause followed by the tincture of time.


            • #7
              Third on the trimming.
              Absolutely unacceptable to be sore as in what you describe.

              My TB's are barefoot on rough ground.
              Never sore/lame after a trim!
              \"Horses lend us the wings we lack\"


              • Original Poster

                He has not been shod while I've had him. These are trims- very involved trims, because he likes to stomp the crap out of his feet in fly season, regardless of spray, sheets, and fly predators. He has seen the vet because of his hooves- they are not fabulous feet. He was raced until he was four, then neglected for about a year after that. We have been very slowly and meticulously bringing him back from that- he had MANY skin, coat, and foot issues. He was largely lame the entire first year I had him, due to arthritis, banging up his left knee, chiro issues, and his locking stifles. After two years, we are finally seeing very consistant soundness and wellness, which Regular Vet and I see as a success.

                His first farrier wasn't that great, and would trim all of the horses in the barn to the point where they were all sore for SEVERAL weeks. His current farrier works specifically with sport horses, and works very carefully with the jagged, cracked, raggedy stumps my horse presents him, but has admitted that these past two months, he has to cut more than he would like to prevent a crack from spreading. The horse has crappy feet- three out of three vets and two farriers agree on that.

                I totally have no problem actually doing the work up- I want to make that abundantly clear. It *will* happen- when I have time off. If I'm paying for several hundred dollars in vet work, it would be best if I didn't lose my job over it!

                Regular Vet does get fabulous results, and the fact that she thinks outside the standard treatment box has actually saved a few horses' lives over the past three years that I've known her. Four vets told my friend her horse had heaves, but she acutally scoped him and discovered a twisted epiglottis and pneumonia. I don't want people to think she in any way neglectful, but she likes to take things one cause-and-effect step at a time. She does a full work-up on his stifles and hocks every year just to make sure they haven't changed significantly, so it's not like she's waving her hand and hoping things go away. I'm more used to her step-by-step, "let's discuss what's happening" approach rather than this guy's "I'm going to act like something very serious is wrong, but I'm not willing to discuss it" approach.


                • #9
                  My horse has terrible feet. Clubby LF, thin walls, has side bone in both fronts, wears bar shoes. He needs one day, MAYBE two, to be sound after being shod.

                  You need to take a good long look at what your farrier is doing to make your horse so sore for so long.


                  • #10
                    I think Meadow36 is quite right; it's not normal to be that sore for that long after a trim. Either your farrier is not trimming this horse appropriately, or this horse would be more comfortable in shoes.

                    That said, is his diet meeting all his nutritional requirements? It's not at all uncommon for horses to have poor haircoats, skin funk and crappy feet when their diets aren't meeting their nutritional needs (which is not the same thing as meeting caloric needs).

                    A full workup can be quite helpful, but it will be more useful if you've eliminated possible contributing factors (like a nutritional deficiency/imbalance or incorrect trim) first.
                    Full-time bargain hunter.


                    • #11
                      Sounds like he needs shoes. I'd do that before the Adequan and the full vet workup. With a competent farrier. Shoes will be less expensive than the full course of Adequan or full vet workup too.


                      • #12
                        I do agree with others that it is quite possible (likely, even) that his feet are the source of his pain. Have you thought about shoeing him? My TB actually does better barefoot on the hinds (though he is shod in front), but I don't think there is a one-size-fits-all, and if your horse is struggling this much, shoes may help him.

                        The Magic Cushion someone else mentioned is REALLY great stuff for hoof pain, so you could also give that a try while you wait and see if it makes a difference. That could also be a bit diagnostic (though no replacement for blocks and x-rays) in that if he improves with the hoof packing, you will have a better idea that the problem is coming from his feet.


                        • Original Poster

                          Examines, trims, balances.

                          Is what the farrier does. Is what every farrier has done on him with the same results.

                          But the thing is, he's not footsore anymore. He was slightly positive the first time the vet came out on 31, August- exactly one week after his trim. He had stomped his feet very rough prior to the trim, and the vet and farrier noticed that some hoof bruising was uncovered by the trim, which would seem to be the cause of that particular part of the soreness. But again, that was hind right, and I'm really concerned about the front, which is where he's presenting lameness.

                          I agree that he could have exacerbated something by walking funky due to the footsore, but I think we're beyond the period where that would be expected. Which is why I called the vet. If someone thinks that my horse just gimps around while I say "meh, that's normal," I assure you, that's completely false. I'm panicky, not lax. I'm that neurotic horse owner that breaks into cold sweats over the slightest things. Which is why I posted this, because I'm panicking. Had I all the time and money to spend, I would've had the vet out Tuesday. Delaying this is killing me!


                          • #14
                            Can you haul him to a clinic for the full work up? Drop him off the evening before the workup, they can do all of the diagnostics, then call you to discuss.


                            • #15
                              FWIW, before we figured out that my horse just DID. NOT. WANT. TO. WEAR. HIND. SHOES., he was presenting with hind end lamenesses that appeared to be hock, stifle, SI related. He even improved with hock and stifle injections, but they had to be done at 6 month intervals.

                              Now, since pulling his hind shoes, he has gone over 7 months without injections and I don't feel like he needs them yet (knocking on wood!).

                              So, perhaps it is something like that for your horse, but in reverse? He may need shoes, and that is causing all kinds of other issues, whereas mine needed his pulled, and leaving them on was causing all kinds of issues.


                              • Original Poster

                                - pound and a half of Nutrena Safe Choice daily over two feedings
                                - full turnout from 8am to 8pm in a grassy, hilly pasture with decent footing, run in, and trees. Pasture is well-maintained by BO so that it is not lush or overgrown or too low.
                                - roughly 8lbs of hay through the night
                                - SmartShine Ultra (which has helped IMMENSELY with his skin funk- we haven't had The Funk since beginning of this year, which is when I started this supplement)
                                - SmartFlex II

                                I'm willing to give it a try. This year is the first year he has had enough foot to put a shoe ON. His feet went through a lot of changes as we've been bringing him back to health. Last summer, his feet were... horrible. Biotin supplements, HA, Easy Boots, poultices- we worked through everything, and it wasn't until we moved him to this new facility that they finally healed up decently. He was on very hard ground at his last facility, and crumbling his feet. I don't know a lot about shoes. I wouldn't mind them at all, but I don't know what questions to ask.

                                I don't have a trailer or truck. I could potentially find one, yes. The vet I use is largely ambulatory, but they refer cases to OSU if necessary. I'm not sure this warrants an OSU visit just yet.


                                • #17
                                  You may want to ask your farrier about glue-on shoes. I had a horse with terrible feet that went quite well in glue ons. That was years ago (early 90s), so I would imagine there may be more advances in glue on shoes now. I remember them staying on remarkably well. In fact, I don't think I ever lost one. Great protection, but without the nail holes.


                                  • #18
                                    I think the shoes my former horse went in were Mustad brand glue ons. They had a bunch of petal type branch things that were glued to the outside of the hoof wall. For him, it was a temporary thing (that we sometimes had to repeat - sigh) that we went to when he had pulled a shoe and ripped off massive hunks of hoof with it.


                                    • #19
                                      Some horses truly need shoes at least up front. It might be worth talking to your vet and farrier about that. I also agree that a horse should not be sore after a trim in general terms.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        In a remarkable technological event, the video is now available.

                                        Here is my pony, limping along gamey: