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Armchair Vets & everyone else- Help!

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  • Armchair Vets & everyone else- Help!

    My 13 year-old paint has hind end issues.
    And before anybody tells me to take him to the vet- I have, and since I get blown off, I now have to do some figuring on my own.

    I have taken him to 3 different vets (each one charging me a hefty fee). The first 2 thought he was just fine, since he is "just a trail horse" and weren't interested in digging any deeper than hock injections (that did notning), Adequan & Pentosan. The latter is helping, but it's not the whole answer. The 3rd vet, only believes in alternative treatments and just wanted to use accupuncture, massage & chiro that really didn't do much for him either. I did this for 6 months, so I did give it a solid try. Now with that out of the way-
    I'm ready to try a 4th vet, but I don't want to be run-over again, so I'd better educate myself some more. Not to mention, I need to have some idea of what I need, as I don't want to pay for tests I might not need. I'm out of money at this point!

    Here is the issue:
    He won't reach under himself with his hinds. He is not limping, but he is just not using his hinds- at all.
    His stride is normal at a walk, but once you start trotting he is short striding like nobody's business. He wants to put his head up when he starts trotting, weather on the lunge or under saddle. He also reaches less with his left hind, than his right hind, giving you the feeling of beeing crooked in the saddle. When edjusted by chiropractor, he is always out in the poll, withers, ribs & hips.

    His canter is so bad that we just don't canter. He bunny hops at the canter, meaning that he won't reach forward with his hinds, so his butt comes up high, tossing you out of the saddle with every stride. Not to mention, he cross-canters and won't pick up the correct lead.

    He is a very energetic horse, and wants to run. He can trot all day like that- with his hind end trailing. He does not like tight circles in canter though and will pin his ears. He is a very happy and energetic horse, and weather or not he is a show horse, I would like to fix him. (Why the heck does THAT matter?? Just don't get it)
    Quite frankly, I'd like to do some dressage with him, since he is lousy on trail anyway. Way to flighty and spooky.

    By the way, we have done 2 loading doses of PentAussie this year, and for the last month I have gotten serious about cavaletti- 5 days a week. Then he had 3 days off and when I came out yesterday, he kept "stumbling" with his hind legs on the lunge again. Darn! I thought he was getting better! The stumbling feels like he just stepped in a hole with one of his hinds.

    Anyway, not where to go from here. Been reading up on stifle, SI joint & trochanteric bursitis. Where do I go from here? What do I tell the vet that I would like?


  • #2
    What is he eating? And how long have you had him? With what you describe, I'd be looking into EPSM or PSSM (really the same thing). This is a muscle condition that can often be easily managed with diet and exercise. Many (most?) vets don't think of it.

    I'm sorry your vets are being dismissive of you/your horse because he is "just" a trail horse. That sucks. Cudos to you for trying to get him right. Where are you located? Maybe someone can suggest a vet that will treat you (and him!) with the respect you deserve.


    • #3
      Otherwise, a bone scan might be revealing.

      Additional things to consider are neck and back x-rays.


      • #4
        Sounds like SI to me, but if it were my horse I'd bone scan him and radiograph off of those findings. Please tell us where you are located--someone will chime in with a suggestion for a competent vet in your area. A good one might not even need to bone scan. Good luck!
        Originally posted by EquineImagined
        My subconscious is a wretched insufferable beotch.


        • #5
          All good ideas but my gut instinct is SI.
          "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


          • #6
            first place I'd be looking is his feet. My driving horse grows long toes in the back. If I don't keep his toes super short he trails his hind end.

            Does he move this way at liberty or only under tack/rider?

            Sounds like you are trying your best and just keep hitting walls, I've been there and I'm so sorry. You will learn a lot in your journey to figure this out for yourself.
            Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


            • #7
              Ok so I'd start with SI and stifle issues. I'd also have him tested for epm, lymes, and look into the epsm and pssm. Those test cam be pretty inexpensive really and may give you an answer. Also have a second opinion from someone thats knowledgeable in the area you are about how his feet are done If all that checks out fine including the stifles and SI I'd probably start looking at the other ligaments. You could have an MRI done as well.
              Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


              • #8
                Here is what I'd do:

                1. Basic manual neurological exam (tail pulling, crossing legs, etc.). If he fails, test for EPM and treat accordingly if positive.

                2. X-ray neck and back. Cervical arthritis can cause these symptoms (as well as neurological symptoms). Kissing spines can cause the hind end out and the raised neck/dropped back at the trot.

                3. If the horse still passes, I'd have the stifles flexed and the SI palpated/manipulated. I'd want an ultrasound guided SI injection, and possibly stifle injection if they are positive. Then I'd focus on riding the horse really correctly - round from the hind end - for two months and see what I had.


                • #9
                  I would want a blood test for EPM and a good neuro exam done. Do you have a vet school near you? Often, vet schools are a good place to see a vet surgeon who spends most of his or her days seeing lameness.


                  • #10
                    I've always thought that the stepping in a hole feeling is indicative of a problem with the stifle.


                    • #11
                      My first thought... SI or stifle. Get a good lameness vet first and foremost. Someone who's used to treating sport horses and can listen to what you've already done and not re-invent the wheel. If you don't want to throw $$$$ at a bone scan, you could try some other things first...like shockwave or mesotherapy, SI or stifle injections depending on what the vet finds. I had a horse with an SI problem, knew he'd had a gate accident during his first race, he was never quite right, but never off either. always difficult on one particular canter lead, and reluctant to use his back end properly. When he started refusing jumps we had him looked at again, vet diagnosed SI problem, did an SI injection, mesotherapy and an estrone regimen. His improvement was amazing.
                      "We're still right, they're still wrong" James Carville


                      • #12
                        Sounds similar to my semi-retired mare's way of going except that my mare is always happy. She has damage to either C3 or C4, can't remember which one, due to a trailer accident she was in prior to when I bought her 10 years ago.

                        The vet I worked for told me her issues were due to poor farrier work on her rear hooves. My farrier made the recommended changes but she didn't improve. I was thinking she had a stifle problem and was able to stealthy get her into another vet. He watched her go both ways, said it was neurological and he radiographed her neck and there was the narrowing right on the screen.

                        Good luck getting something figured out with your horse. Sometimes it takes fresh, educated eyes to get to the bottom of the problem.


                        • #13
                          Did any of the previous Vets do an ultrasound? The short striding and bunny hop also could be suspensory problems. Do you have any pictures you could share with us? Good luck and keep us posted.
                          Last edited by sdlbredfan; May. 23, 2013, 11:34 PM. Reason: typo
                          RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


                          • #14
                            Bilateral suspensory issue?


                            • #15
                              Can you post a video?


                              • #16
                                I would post this on Dr. Deb Bennett's forum: http://esiforum.mywowbb.com/

                                She is an equine anatomist and this is right up her alley. She can be brutal, but if you have thick skin and hang in there, you can get a wealth of information.


                                • Original Poster

                                  Thank you all for your input, you have given me so much to think about!
                                  I have actually had him for 6 years. To make a really long story short- He was a pasture ornament for the first two, and then we have had a bunch of other issues before, saddle fit etc. Also, he is a little high strung and the first few years I just rode him on trails at a walk trying to calm him down. The last 2 years I have had him boarded and only ride in the arena. He is so nice and calm in the arena compared to the trail. He loves the barn life, the other horses and things going on. It has become more apparent that he doesn't want to use his hind end, now that he actually has to work & not just walk down the trail (he is fine at a walk by the way).

                                  Before we got him he was injured (which I only found out a couple of years ago, I didn't buy the horse, just ended up with him), but he was therefore sold off as a trail horse. The injury was declared at the sale of the horse, all hands on the table. I have contacted the original owner via her active facebook account to try to find out what that injury was. She is not responding...written her twice... trying to locate another guy who might know what happened back then who worked at that barn. I have been working with the vets a couple of years once I realized he has something going on in his hind end. Although some seem to think he is just lazy, but I don't buy it. Not only is he not a lazy horse, lots of energy and he is a happy go lucky kind of guy who loves to come out and play. The lazy theory also doesn't expalin the stumbling in his hind end when overdue for his Pentosan shots. Or his ear pinning at tight turns.

                                  He moves like this at liberty as well, so not just under rider. Will pick up incorrect lead in canter on lunge line as well, or cross- canter. For example, the only time he canters in tight turns, is actually when he does it to himself.
                                  He'll come running at me at full speed from the pasture when I call, and take a tight turn as he comes up to me. He's started pinning his ears right before he takes that little turn and comes to a halt. I don't ask him for this, he does this himself. I have started asking him to slow down to a trot as he approaches.

                                  As for his feed, he gets grass hay, some grass in summer and timothy pellets/beetpulp with his supplements. No grains.
                                  He is very healthy looking, increadibly shiny coat, looks athletic, alert eyes, full of playfullness.
                                  I have to do some goodling on EPM & EPSM as I don't know a ton about it (thank you for the sugestions!).

                                  Thanks for all your sugestions! I really appreciate it.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Oh- and I'm in Arlington, WA. I know we have Pilchuck just down the road, but I'm scared to death to go there since I hear horror stories about cost...
                                    I don't have 10 grand to spend on evaluating....


                                    • Original Poster

                                      I'll see if I can get video posted as well this weekend


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Snowdenfarm, that's a great idea to post on Dr Deb Bennett's forum.- thanks! I will do that, I have thick enough skin I think