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Something isn't right with my horse, any ideas?

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  • Something isn't right with my horse, any ideas?

    My horse was 250 lbs underweight with no muscle last spring. He also had a hind toe drag, but seemed sound. He crow hopped at the canter under saddle. The vet said he had weak stifles.

    As of now he is at a great weight, but still has a slight drag. His canter still doesn't feel quite right and he has some, just a little, muscle atrophy in the leg he drags. He stumbles sometimes and his topline is not developing much muscle.

    Besides the slight drag he is sound. He has come a long, long way, but something is weird.

    He gets turnout 15 hours a day and alot to eat. I do not ride everyday, but he is active in turnout. I try to ride four days a week, but the weather has been bad.

    Any thoughts?

  • #2
    Could be possibly EPSM, pelvic misalignments, maybe also selenium deficiency, or EPM. What kind of horse and what does his diet look like?


    • #3
      My first thought would be a neurological issue like EPM or wobblers.

      I'd have the vet out for a lameness work up and a neuro exam.


      • #4
        EPM. Have the vet do a neurological exam. The symptons you describe match what I have seen. The spinal test may not be completely definitive, so when we see it we go straight to the Marquis and give it a month to see improvement. The good news is the Marquis may work, depending on your definition of his future career. It is best to get started sooner than later.



        • #5
          More info, please

          You say your vet blames "weak stifles" - did vet tell you how this diagnosis was arrived at?
          Did vet suggest any treatment?
          Did vet give you a prognosis?

          How old is this horse?
          What do you use him for?
          Was he sound before last Spring?
          What caused the weight loss? Disease? Injury?
          If not the above, when did you notice the NQR canter?
          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


          • #6

            I would suggest a good chiropractor as well. Might be something as simple as that?
            Sorry! But that barn smell is my aromatherapy!
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            • Original Poster

              I got him three years ago as a rescue, he was alomst starved to death. He was a sucessful jumper that became neglected. (long story)

              I had a full vet check including xrays he passed. I fed him and brought him back over the course of about a year. When I started riding him he crow hopped at the canter. He had stomach ulcers (he was scoped) which we treated.

              I found a home for him 2 years ago. The girl was using him in 3'-3'6 AO and jumper classes. I didn't hear from her for a coulpe of months, turns out she was having some problems.....he got neglected AGAIN! I made her give him back 250 lbs under weight and here we are.

              He is at a good weight now. He is very sound minus the toe drag which has improved but not disappeared. His canter is weird though. I am not sure how to describe it. He also gets tired very quickly.

              The vet says he is sound based on lameness exam. She says weak stifles. It seems like as much muscle and weight as he has put on he would have made more improvement in this area too.

              He has a smaller developed muscle in the affected leg.

              BTW...I have chiro coming next week


              • #8
                I would recommend a really good massage/chiro person... in my horse-life experiences... they can read a horses body better than modern vet medicine.

                Watching Hawk Arabians
                Home of ZEGAS
                *Ganges x Zabrynka


                • #9
                  Do you live in an area that has Lyme disease? If so, it's something else to rule out.


                  • #10
                    Is his canter equally weird in both directions? If not, which is the closer to normal? You mention less muscle on the affected leg - which leg is it?

                    Adams Equine Wellness


                    • #11

                      Some of the time, dragging of rear feet can indicate problems in the mouth. Also a weak topline is an indication of lack of anterior/posterior motion of the jaw. Balance in the mouth or lack of affects the whole horse in muscle mass development and also movement. I would suggent having him looked at by an equine dentist that specializes in restoring biomechanics. If you will Pm me your state, I can give you some suggestions. I am a Natural Balance Dentist in Kentucky.


                      • #12
                        He is at a good weight now. He is very sound minus the toe drag which has improved but not disappeared. His canter is weird though. I am not sure how to describe it. He also gets tired very quickly.
                        Make sure he's not missing any selenium and rule out EPSM also - it could very well be a factor.


                        • #13
                          I would think EPSM could be a player with the one side drag.......You need to rule that out!
                          The rider casts his heart over the fence,
                          the horse jumps in pursuit of it.

                          –Hans-Heinrich Isenbart


                          • Original Poster

                            His drag and lack of muscle is in the right hind. His canter is worst that direction, but weird both ways. He had a slight drag in the left hind as well, which is pretty much totally gone.

                            I will update Wednesday when the chiro comes. I was planning on having his teeth checked anyway. I will move that up the priority list!

                            Does it sound like EPMS even though he has gain substantial muscle? They do a muscle biopsy?

                            Does it sound like EPM still? I hope not!


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MissKatie View Post
                              Does it sound like EPM still? I hope not!
                              Muscle wasting in the hind end ALWAYS makes me thing EPM. I really hope that you're planning on getting the vet out to run the horse through a neuro exam.


                              • #16
                                The symptoms you describe are what you look for with EPM, which can be treated by Marquis prescribed by a veterinarian. Unless your chiro is a vet as well, the vet should be your first call.


                                • #17
                                  My horse had a hind toe drag and it turned out to be his hocks. Once the affected hock was injected, he was fine.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                                    Muscle wasting in the hind end ALWAYS makes me thing EPM. I really hope that you're planning on getting the vet out to run the horse through a neuro exam.
                                    I have had a vet out twice and she mentioned nothing about needing to do a neuro work up. That's why I am here digging a little myself!

                                    Is this muscle wasting? He had no muscle to begin with from neglect, it has failed to develop bilaterally.

                                    Also, I just found out this afternoon my company is closing it's doors...I would love to test him in every way possible, but it doesn't look like neuro exam, spinal fluid testing and $2000 in medication will be possible right away. Especially since a positive test is not even definative.

                                    I don't know what to do. When I took him back I swore I would never let him go to anyone else again. I would keep him for life to make sure he would never become neglected again. I have nursed him back to health twice now. I've paid $1000 a month in bills for him to just rehab and gain weight on both occasions. I don't know what to do!!!


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Originally posted by Queen Latisha View Post
                                      My horse had a hind toe drag and it turned out to be his hocks. Once the affected hock was injected, he was fine.

                                      I've thought about this too.


                                      • #20
                                        If there is muscle wastage, the body of the muscle is damaged and/or it's not being used - it's a BIG CLUE - but as I don't know which muscle/s you are referring to - couldn't say what it's a clue to.

                                        There are so many possible explanations for this - so if you are going to do the best by this horse start being systematic.

                                        Old medical adage - if you hear hooves, think horses not zebras.

                                        If the vet says the horse has weak stifles - get her/him to tell you which of the muscles is weak - and devise an exercise programme to strengthen them.

                                        Start with the most obvious thing first - make sure his feet are sound - good balance, even pattern of wear etc; if there is an obvious issue in the feet it may be the root cause of the problem or it may have been caused by a problem higher up the limb etc.