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Confounding Lameness getting worse but is seen only under saddle-HELP!

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  • Confounding Lameness getting worse but is seen only under saddle-HELP!

    Hi, I own a 6yr old Draft cross who is in a consistent program and ridden 3-4 days a week at a hunter/jumper barn.

    My horse has gotten progressively worse over the last month. Started with an extremely slight lameness. Tried riding a few times that week (5-10 minutes each) but obvious something was wrong. Vet out following Monday couldn't see it on lunge. Put horse on bute and advised us to either give him week off or ride him and see if he gets worse.

    Trainer rode him 3 days later and said still off even a little more than before but still could not identify where. Rode 2-3 more times to make sure lameness would be visible for vet this time.

    Vet had me on for appointment this time and could see lameness though it was still intermittent at first. Started blocking left front and right hind. Had to get on between each block. Got lamer as we were blocking. Often wanted to canter rather than trot. After two hours and about half way up each leg had to call quits for the day. Told vet to at least see him at least lunge before she left. He had been consistently very lame at times and very uncomfortable under saddle. Perfectly sound on lunge.

    Put him on muscle relaxers, had a chiropractor out, and gave him 5 days off. Now he is even worse under saddle. Ran around like crazy in pasture so much so that my trainer is baffled. Got on him again and now he can't trot at all and after 10 minutes of walking he seemed uncomfortable even doing that. Head came up real high, back felt wierd, slowed down to a stop multiple times before I got off.

    Ideas? We are testing for Lyme disease Monday and will discuss possibility of EPSM but he gets a cup of grain twice a day and not sure if it applies to him. Other thoughts are its hip/SI area or spine.

    NOT back sore to traditional tests.
  • Original Poster

    #2
    Additional info

    I forgot to say that he had never shown any signs of lameness before. Does flying changes with ease! (though haven't of course tried any since symptoms occurred)

    Comment


    • #3
      If he's not lame other than when under saddle, is it possible that the saddle fit is a problem? Pinching a nerve or something?

      Does he exhibit the lameness on the long line with tack and no rider?
      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

      Might be a reason, never an excuse...

      Comment


      • #4
        Does sound like EPSM is worth looking into. But with it being only under saddle, perhaps kissing spines?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by BuddyRoo View Post
          If he's not lame other than when under saddle, is it possible that the saddle fit is a problem? Pinching a nerve or something?

          Does he exhibit the lameness on the long line with tack and no rider?
          In addition to that, I'd be interested to see him ridden bareback, to see if this is a weightbearing problem.

          It sounds like your vet has not yet seen the horse ridden? That should definitely be in the next exam.
          As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            saddle

            We considered the saddle and tried another with no difference. I have not tried lunging with tack on but was considering finding someone smaller than me to ride him and see if it made a difference. I weight probably 175.

            The vet did see him under saddle. All the blocking had to be done with me in the saddle as without me you don't see it.

            I do keep wondering however if its not a pinched nerve or something in the SI region because the difference between under saddle and on his own is getting to the point of being night and day difference. I read somewhere online that this can be the case with that type of thing. Bute and muscle relaxers did not make a difference.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Unfortunately I can't ride him bareback as I hurt my back last October and he has never been ridden bareback and is getting fresh with no work and I think he would buck me off! He is a "sensitive" draft cross in this respect.

              Comment


              • #8
                At 175 on a draft cross I do not think by any means you are too heavy, so let me start by saying that.

                However, I think it might be wise to consider putting someone on him who is lighter and very well balanced to see if there is any difference (in addition to the other changes of variables like lunging with tack and no rider).

                I think if it were me, I'd be getting a set of spinal rads done.
                A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thanks, yes I know he can usually handle me but just trying to see where the line is for when he feels the pain and when he doesn't. I'm going to try to get someone to videotape it this week when the vet comes out. He doesn't need to be back sore to have kissing spines right? Its just weird how this has all happened so quickly when he was jumping around and doing flying lead changes with ease just a month ago.
                  He did have a trailer ride the day it started and he was shipped in a open stall and I did think briefly I wonder if he will figure this out ok as he is lazy and rests against the butt bar on trailer rides. Could he have injured himself in a short trailer ride?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by vanarc View Post
                    Could he have injured himself in a short trailer ride?
                    Well that's a silly question. Horses can injure themselves ANYWHERE
                    As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      So I know you said you tried a different saddle with no luck, but maybe that other saddle didn't fit either? Have you had a saddle fitter out? An ill fitting saddle can absolutely cause a head bobbing lameness as it did when I first got my gelding. Maybe his back changed over the last couple of months?
                      "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse..." ~Revelation 19:11

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hell they can injure themselves when sedated and wrapped in bubble wrap. Yeah, horses are suicidal, I swear! They can hurt themselves doing ANYTHING.

                        But I doubt the trailering is the real issue. Given that he can bounce around in the pasture just fine and on the long line too, this pings my radar as something with tack or spine or something that is exacerbated by adding tack and/or weight.

                        I'm thinking spine issues.
                        A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                        Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          My trainer and I looked at my saddle and this other saddle that we tried and they really seemed to fit well. Both gave room at shoulder and didn't sit too close to spine. Plus he did not show significant discomfort to the vet or the chiropractor. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy being chiropracted!
                          Plus he had five days off on muscle relaxers and was still worse when I got back on him. Seeming to show its not muscles alone involved?

                          Being a draft cross or just his personality I don't think he would show a lot of reaction to pain anyways of course. He barely flinched for any of his blocks so far. He doesn't show any reaction to being tacked.

                          In fact the only reaction I can think of is over the last two months he has started to occasionally move away from the mounting block as I am about to get on. He NEVER used to do that. In fact he would go so exactly where I put him that he would be over the mounting block at times. He also started pulling down on reins when I started to mount which I also noticed. Ironically I haven't noticed it as much in this past month tho he has been a touch antsy to get on which I attributed to freshness.

                          I agree the more we discuss I am leaning toward spine or sacroiliac joint issue. Of course it could also be a pinched nerve.

                          Another chiropractor is in town on the 9th which is before my next vet visit. Should a chiro check him out again?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm not a vet. But were it my horse, I'd spend my money on spinal rads before another chiro. Just to see what might be there. If there is a real issue, you could actually make it worse with chiro IMHO.
                            A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                            Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              What about his feet?

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by BuddyRoo View Post
                                I'm not a vet. But were it my horse, I'd spend my money on spinal rads before another chiro. Just to see what might be there. If there is a real issue, you could actually make it worse with chiro IMHO.
                                The last time I investigated back radiographs, they couldn't be done properly without general anesthesia (except maybe on very small horses), so not something to take lightly (especially on a big horse who may have more trouble under anesthesia). Only as far back as the withers could be done standing. Maybe technology has improved since then.
                                As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by CrowneDragon View Post
                                  The last time I investigated back radiographs, they couldn't be done properly without general anesthesia (except maybe on very small horses), so not something to take lightly (especially on a big horse who may have more trouble under anesthesia). Only as far back as the withers could be done standing. Maybe technology has improved since then.
                                  I don't believe that technology has passed you by CD. They're not easy rads to take even on a small animal without sedation and really can't be done outside of the clinic as far as I know unless technology has recently passed ME by as well. BUT, I think that if it were me, that would be my next step as opposed to more chiro which could potentially be damaging if there's truly a spinal component here like bone spurs, a disk problem(which they'd likely need MRI for, not visible on rads), etc. But I'm not a vet. So I have to say that again. I'm not a vet. I'm just saying that if it were MY horse, that would be my logical next step and I wouldn't take the risk of more chiro at this time.
                                  A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                  Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    He is barefoot. Always has been. Vet hoof tested him on first trip and said a little positive in toe of all his feet. Blocked two feet. Left front and right hind and he only got lamer!

                                    I think when vet comes out I will ask about nerve blocking his spine and the upper parts of his right hind etc.
                                    I think I had convinced her that it is up higher last time she was out when he was dead lame by end of that blocking session when I was on him and then we lunged him and he looked beautiful. I just like to be prepared and she is a young vet -4yrs out of her internship.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Your Description makes me wonder about kissing spines. I would think a good set of digital x'rays could possibly give be able to view the spine. You may be best off hauling to a clinic though. The alternative would be a none scan if you can afford it. Do you have extended medical?

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        I have medical up to 5000. Called insurance and they would pay half of bonescan. I am a teacher and about to enter my "poor months" so although I will do whatever is necessary for my horse I really have to make sure I am going right direction. Already spent 500 dollars of my own money and I'm sure there is still lots of work to be done. I believe I would have to ship to Cornell. I understand that I am close to having to do this at this point.

                                        Comment

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