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Strange lameness??

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  • Strange lameness??


    Has anybody seen anything similar to this lameness before? Worst of it starts at about 40s into video.

    -manifested the very first time when pony was in dressage training and was ridden very agressively deep.

    -only occurs UNDER SADDLE, not on the lunge line, even when side reins are used.

    -it is intermittant and shows up only during ring work, and lots of circles and bending. At the trot there is no head bob, he just gets really giraffe-like, hollow, and resistant.

    - the more contact used the worse it gets, but it also happens without a bit, and when riding bareback.

    -never happens during trail rides, and if little ring work is done can go months without occurring.

    -vet thinks there is some hock arthritis even though x-rays are clear but couldn't really explain what was happening (to be fair he hardly did it when she was there)

    -has had chiro, acupuncture with no improvement.

    Any ideas?
    Last edited by Cheesetoast; Nov. 19, 2012, 02:01 PM.

  • #2
    My instincts say you have something going on in the back. The fact that it happens only under saddle tells me that it's got something to do with weight on his back. If he were my guy, I'd be getting some back xrays, and check the saddle fit.


    • #3
      At 0:40 he begins to nearly pace at the walk and is terribly short on the left hind.

      You can ruin the walk by over schooling it, and when that happens the horse gets very pacey. That may be one component of what's happening there.

      The hind end is obviously an issue and the horse is short on it even when not pacing.

      Has this horse had a full lameness work up? What breed is he? Anything gaited in the woodpile?

      Neuro issues are also a concern, I would think.


      • Original Poster

        Saddle can't be a cause because he does it even when bareback. He has had a full vet work-up and vet ruled out neuro issues as he has no other symptoms. He's a thoroughbred cross and has no gaited breeding. Before this has never shown the slightest pacey tendency.


        • #5
          Bareback and ridden? If he's got a spinal problem, any weight on his back may be a trigger. How is he bred?

          How'd that left hind flex?

          Any fluid/heat anywhere on the horse?

          Anything unusual about his feet?

          It may be bone scan time.


          • Original Poster

            Yes, he only does it while ridden. Feet are very good. No heat or swelling anywhere. Flexed slightly off on the right, left flexed fine. I do suspect spine, but I also have noticed his right hip making a clicking sound on occasion on days the lameness was particularly bad, but I don't know if it's related.


            • #7
              What sort of saddle is he ridden in? I can't quite tell--is that a treeless? If so, does anything change if he is ridden for a time with a saddle with a tree?

              How is flexibility from side to side? Any issues with carrot stretches?

              It sounds like your vet is stumped? Has he or she talked about a bone scan? It would likely at least point you in the right direction.

              NOT riding this horse but working him for several weeks might also be interesting. Longeing, ground driving, ponying, hand walking. Keep weight off his back, work on his fitness and see if you have anything different after 6 -8 weeks.


              • #8
                I think you need to find someone that dose myofascial release therapy - I think that it's a soft tissue problem in the upper limb....rest/bute/gabapentin and massage therapy would be where I would start.


                • #9
                  I'm perplexed by this too but my gut answer is that it's likely to be in the back (I *almost* wanted to say stifles but to be honest it didn't look like stifles to me-- but the way he caught and then afterwards was off/short had a tinge of stifle to me but the other side of my brain says it doesn't really LOOK like stifles). It seems very strange to me that the horse can do trail riding (in the same saddle, same rider?!) with no problem for weeks but just walking in the ring triggers the lameness. The only difference I can see between those two is the turns/stepping under himself. But trail riding can be kind of strenous. Are we talking walking out on a leiserly stroll or W/T/C up hill and dale?

                  What happens if you give him bute for a week and work him in the ring? Does the issue go away with bute? Enough bute to really mask pain?

                  You cannot get this issue to appear when lunging? Even very small circles? Will he do it jogging in hand on small circles?

                  What happens when he catches if you immediately back him up. Does that resolve the issue? Does he always lock/stumble like that before the issue comes on?

                  I'm really stumped too. Has he ever been blocked? My guess is it's an issue above the hock (stifle or back) and I think it's bone scan/MRI time.
                  "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                  • #10
                    My first step would be a lameness work-up including spinal x-rays.


                    • Original Poster

                      This horse has had a full lameness work-up with hock x-rays. Problem is he doesn't do it consistently and he never does it without a rider. This video was taken after a half hour of bending and circles at the trot and canter.

                      He has never done this on trails, even when ridden at walk, trot and canter for up to 2 hours. The key seems to be bending, and circles, at trot, and especially canter. He is EXTREMELY stiff to the left...it's as if he can't bend his neck left when ridden (he is also stiff to the left unbacked on the lunge line). The left has always been his bad side, but it got exponentially worse with the development of this condition. It is a stiffness that can NOT be worked through, if you try to force it, even gently, the gimpy steps get worse. He will do carrot stretches to both sides. Though the lurching stride looks like a locked stifle, he has never locked up, and will back, but since this video was taken he has also become more resistant to giving vertically and bending his head down.

                      I haven't tried the bute. Can anyone recommend a buteless alternative, as he seems to be dealing with ulcer issues currently (he wasn't at the time this video was taken). Unfortunately, this horse is not insured and MRIs and bone scans are not an option financially.


                      • #12
                        With this additional information, I now feel even more strongly that it's back/neck and frankly radiographs are in order though they may be of limited use without the possibility of also doing a bone scan.
                        "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                        • #13
                          Does he do this with every rider?
                          Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                          Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Cheesetoast View Post
                            Can anyone recommend a buteless alternative, as he seems to be dealing with ulcer issues currently (he wasn't at the time this video was taken). Unfortunately, this horse is not insured and MRIs and bone scans are not an option financially.
                            How do you know that ulcers aren't the cause of the lameness, unless he was scoped? Years ago I had an OTTB that looked like he had a mild stifle issue. The first clue that he had ulcers is when they opened him up for colic surgery and found his stomach had ruptured. You might want to try treating him for his ulcers and seeing if the lameness improves.

                            I am curious about where you are riding? And what the building is in the background? It doesn't look like a typical place for horses.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
                              With this additional information, I now feel even more strongly that it's back/neck and frankly radiographs are in order though they may be of limited use without the possibility of also doing a bone scan.

                              I'd radiograph the horse from poll to tail, with special attention paid to the neck and underneath the saddle.

                              Gabapentin could also be useful and is not terribly costly through Walgreens or CostCo.

                              Previcoxx is an inexpensive alternative to bute.

                              And while my horse did not have that weird pacey thing, you might find the thread about her neck issues interesting.

                              Unless you are going to send the horse for a bone scan I would STOP RIDING HIM as there is obviously something very wonky going on.


                              • #16
                                Agree with others on possible neck/back problems. Also consider pelvic injury. Honestly, the fact that he was ridden "very aggressively deep" makes me wonder if his neck was injured in the process or if an existing injury was aggravated.

                                I'm not sure I even want to know, but why was he being ridden very aggressively deep?


                                • Original Poster

                                  I'm not sure I even want to know, but why was he being ridden very aggressively deep?
                                  Because I was an idiot and didn't know any better....and I think you are probably correct that it aggravated a pre-existing injury.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Cheesetoast View Post
                                    Because I was an idiot and didn't know any better....and I think you are probably correct that it aggravated a pre-existing injury.
                                    Was he lunged in side reins while with same trainer? Any possibility that he flipped in them (causing back & possibly pelvis injury)?


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                                      Does he do this with every rider?
                                      Hmmm! Seems like a reasonable question to me, when a horse shows nothing on the lunge, etc.
                                      Taking it day by day!


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Was he lunged in side reins while with same trainer? Any possibility that he flipped in them (causing back & possibly pelvis injury)?
                                        No, he was never lunged by the trainer. But he did flip on the lunge line about 3 years prior to going into training. He was never lame from it, and didn't appear hurt in any way, but it may be when the original injury occurred.

                                        Does he do this with every rider?
                                        Yes and no. He did it with the dressage trainer, and I've seen hints of it with other riders but he is definitely the worst with me. I have scoliosis and I am very crooked. I know I put way too much weight in my right stirrup. So, am I completely the cause, probably not, do I make it worse, unfortunately yes.