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Mystery Back Pain in Mare

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  • Mystery Back Pain in Mare

    The vet is scheduled to come out in two days, but until then I was wondering if there were any ideas from COTH as to my mare's behavior. This may get long - sorry!

    BACKGROUND: The mare in question is my coming 9 year old OTTB, whom I have had for about a year. During that time not much has been done with her, life etc has gotten in the way...
    I was given the mare by a friend of a friend, based on recommendations from my friend who knew I was looking for a third horse for the farm, as mainly a companion for my 2 jumpers and as a 'project' so I would have a little more flexibility if I wanted to leave one at a trainers or show for an extended period, didn't want to leave a sole horse at the farm alone. My friend's friend, who was giving the mare away said she had not done much with her, used her in some lessons etc. Come to find out later on, she had gone straight from the track to being in a lesson program with kids jerking and bouncing on her and generally being bullied around. Last year I started working with her with my trainer, did some ground work, she is quite a lovely mover with great suspension and elasticity who naturally carries herself very round and "through", at least on the lunge and when free. When we added a rider, a whole 'nother horse emerged, and it screamed I am in pain, my back hurts. Vet looked at her, put her on ulcer meds. We let the treatment work for a few weeks then got back on her, behavior was a bit better. However, never great, and I ended up throwing her back in the pasture halfway through summer because I didn't have time to keep three in work. This spring we put her back in work, treated pre-emptively for ulcers, a few days of ground work, she is great, no pain. I get on, she is okay if allowed to walk on the buckle, as soon as any contact is added she becomes tense. When I ask for the trot, she immediatly kicks out at my leg but goes forward, very hollow away from my weight. She looks as if she is trying to contort her body to save herself some pain, any additional leg gets either a buck or pinned ears and her biting at air. Her back was noticeably sore after the first ride, but not after the second, and I haven't ridden her since because of weather and just waiting for the vet at this point. The interesting thing is though, if I ask for the trot she always resists and behaves like she is in incredible pain. If she jigs into a trot, no pain.

    So - we have been treating ulcers, which in my mind would rule out those as the main cause...I'm now thinking this may be hormone related or orthopedic problem with her back, or maybe she just has my number. As far as hormones, there is really no discernable pattern to her pain. It was consistent last year, but better-ish after ulcer treatment. Soreness along the actual spine has been touch and go, most of the time I can press along her spine pretty forcefully and get no reaction. Could there be another source of her pain that I'm just not thinking of? Any other things I should look for before the vet comes out to help her make a diagnosis?

  • #2
    I am dealing with a similar situation. Treated for ulcers and a possible sacroiliac injury(injection) with no improvement. Finally had a Lyme test done from Cornell and it revealed chronic Lyme disease. We are now in the middle of one month of treatment with antibiotics. I will get on soon to re-evaluate. I really hope it is the culprit. Good luck figuring it out.
    Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.

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    • #3
      Could be a number of things. Does the saddle fit her well? Sometimes if she is sensitive a pinching saddle can set them off. Also kissing spine is a big thing in tbs. Also she may have cysts or other ovary issues that makes her painful. Neuro issues such as epm can set in like this at times but I'd be looking more at spine and ovaries. Bw for epm and lymes is cheap enough though just to rule them out.
      Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thanks for your replies! I will some bloodwork done to rule out epm and Lyme, just in case! Her saddle does fit her well, I had a pro saddle fitter out last year to check it and to have it reflocked. The fit is the same this year.

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        • #5
          To add onto the bloodwork, have them test for Selenium. Low levels of Selenium can cause reproductive problems, which will make for a very sore back. Our mare had this issue, and you could put her on her knees by running a finger and thumb along both sides of her spine. With a rectal check, she was a real mess inside, with egg CLUSTERS in her tubes.

          We treated her, got her Selenium levels up first with shots, then using feed additives of Selenium with Vit E. Once her levels were in the normal range, she had no back issues, was cycling correctly with her eggs, and never had trouble again.

          She wasn't being ridden, she was a driving horse but she was just "off" and it took us forever to get to Selenium as the culprit. Nothing wrong with legs, gone over from front to back. But with the back pain, she was not carrying herself evenly, which did affect her gaits.

          She was a rather stoic horse, not reactive like your TB. Anyway, lack of Selenium is another idea and easy to rule OUT as the problem with her blood testing.

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          • #6
            When you figure it out, I'd be curious to know. Sounds like what is happening with my gelding. Went from jumping courses, to now contorting his body in weird ways to get away from whatever is bugging him.

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            • #7
              This sounds very much like my mare. However, she was in regular work, and doing dressage, jumping, competing in eventing for a couple years. In the past 6-8 months this has developed and it's been progressively getting worse despite a number of treatments from vets for what they thought might be the problem. The vet I am working with now did find that she has a lot of pain when he presses on the T14 area and has found that she has 3 vertebrae that appear to be very close (but he didn't have a powerful enough x-ray machine to get a completely clear image). So next we are going to try blocking her back to see if the pain is definitely related to the back issue. We are also planning to do a bone scan. So basically, we are still trying to figure it out and although it seems like it is kissing spines, we still need to do more exploring.

              It's a frustrating situation so I completely feel your pain. The list of treatments we have already tried (which have made no improvement) has been ridiculous. So, although I was trying to avoid an expensive bone scan--I have probably paid out that money easily in the past 6 months between vet bills, 2 months of ulcer treatment, hock injections, SI injections, back injections, chiro, acupuncture, feed changes, reproductive exam, regu-mate, ultrasound, xrays, saddle adjustments, massages . . . . I could go on. I am hoping that the bone scan will give us an answer. Please keep us posted if you find out anything more about your mare.

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thanks everyone! The vet was out today and palpated her back, did a repro exam and bloodwork. She is fairly confident this is repro related and gave me 15 days worth of regu-mate. Fingers crossed that this is the source of our issues.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by goodhors View Post
                  We treated her, got her Selenium levels up first with shots, then using feed additives of Selenium with Vit E. Once her levels were in the normal range, she had no back issues, was cycling correctly with her eggs, and never had trouble again.
                  I want to add to this. Many moons ago (late 80's) I leased a mare for the hunter ring. She was going fabulously until she started swapping leads before jumps. Two days later I went to get on and she almost dropped to her knees. The trainer immediately knew it was Selenium deficiency because she knew the mare's history. Very quickly after starting the Selenium supplement the mare was back to her wonderful self. We didn't even miss any shows, and this was at the height of the summer show season. I also used Selenium and Vitamin E on my own hunter mare in the 90's.

                  It seems to have gone out of favor with stories about Selenium poisoning, but that's a shame really. If I were you, OP, I would certainly explore this.

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