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Hip or Stifle?

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  • Hip or Stifle?

    My 23-yo Arab has always been weaker in her right hind if not in regular work, but with appropriate exercise it always comes back. She was a pasture puff all winter, but has been in pretty regular light work (trails, flatwork, a good dressage lesson every week or two) for about two months now. I was watching her gallop around the ring at liberty today, and she just was having such a hard time with the right lead canter with her hind legs -- lots of swapping, trying to stay on the left lead in back, and also keeping her hind legs really close together -- almost like bunny hopping in the back. Alittle swapping isn't unusual for when she's not in shape, but I would have said she's getting into decent shape for our level of riding. She was doing some swapping yesterday under saddle. No issues at the trot; her trot is coming back really well.

    She is on maintenance Hytril i.v. and Pentosan i.v. She has 24/7 turnout with plenty of room to move around. Has been barefoot for years. She has a new trimmer; trimmer says there is some weird dynamic going on between her right hind and front left (her front left grows long on the inside).

    Call in to the chiropractor, the vet, and trainer. Any thoughts, just so I know what questions to ask?

  • #2
    One common problem of swapping leads and difficulty maintaining one is a spasm in the posterior pectoral muscle. That would not be a chiropractic issue, but a muscular one. A body worker who does stress point therapy will know how to treat this. If you send me a photo I can check it and I might see something.

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    • #3
      I hope it is not this, but that bunny hop can be one of the early symptoms of ESPA, previously/sometimes referred to by its older acronym DSLD. I was a little bit confused by which canter lead you said was problematical, and which hind. Remember that a left lead canter's first step is with right hind. A right lead canter begins with left hind. So, a horse with a right hind problem is one that I would expect to have cantering on the left lead be problematical, not right lead.
      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.


      • #4
        This could be way off the mark, but given the horse's age, you might be seeing the signs of cervical arthritis. It hit my TB gelding in 2011; he had great difficulty holding his leads, and also was doing some tripping now and then. Vet exam showed some neuro symptoms as well. Tested for EPM 2 ways, then did the neck xrays. Injections have worked wonders; they were done about 18 months ago.
        We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


        • #5
          The bunny hop seems to appear with any hind end problem. Leave it to your vet to start at the hoof and work their way up., with blocks. Takes forever but will give you a definitive answer, and with luck a course of action.
          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.


          • #6
            My mare did this before we discovered her medial meniscus in her stifle was a mess. She also would improve with work. She would bunny hop and swap leads. She had surgery in Jan and hasn't healed up enough to get her in the round pen and see, but from the couple times I've let her out (shhhh!) she is moving much better.