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Lameness issues *HAPPY UPDATE* and new question P3!

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  • Lameness issues *HAPPY UPDATE* and new question P3!

    This has been the worst emotional rollercoaster I've ever been on in my life, and I want off.


    For those that have been following my SI/saddle fit/lameness saga, the big guy went off lame a few months ago with SI issues and bone spurs, that originally started as a saddle fit issue. We did a mesotherapy treatment, course of Robaxin, time off, new saddle, the works.

    Vet OK'd us back to work about a month later, with a well established lungeing routine in a Pessoa rig and support from chiro and massage. I moved barns to work with a more reputable trainer, and so Mr. Pony could have all the amenities of a top class facility. Old BO decided that they had my last month's board, why bother to feed the horse - he got skinny, and miserable. Since the move, the big guy has been literally BURIED in the round bales and hoovering grass like it's his job since the moment he stepped hoof into his new (ginormous) paddock. He is steadily putting wight back on and seems to be loving his new life.

    I noticed some funny bald spots after a ride a couple of weeks ago, they're mid back, and nowhere near the location of the original lameness problem. I was recommended to buy a friction free pad, as I was using a Poly Pad which can apparently cause pretty nasty rubs, and in the course of checking my saddle fit - lo and behold it doesn't fit now that horsey is too skinny for it. Gave him a week off with lungeing in Pessoa rig to keep him in the program and to let the rubs heal, and get back on to ride yesterday...not good. He feels like he is trotting up and down, no overtrack at trot and the more I asked for forward, the worse he got. This happened only at trot, canter he felt fine, but as he didn't work out of it, I got off and called it a day. Went to check on him today, spun him around on the lunge with no tack, and he is short and choppy at the trot and looks NQR behind. Some minor pain on the left side of his back, midway down and again, nowhere near the original problem area. Walking he looks sound as a dollar, and cantering he looks fine as well, it's just at the trot. No heat, swelling or head nod obvious, and I had my trainer, BO, BM, and a couple other boarders that I respect have a look. They all agree he looks tight and stiff, but not lame.

    I've put about 2k into him in the past few months with vet visits, saddle fitters, chiro, massage, supplements, and new (very expensive) farrier. I also now have 3 saddles sitting around, none of which fit, and 2 of which won't sell. I'm at the point where I just don't even know if it's worth it to put any more money into him (I'm a student and am paying for all of this via line of credit) and had some big plans for show season, which is looking like a wash now. At what point is it OK to call it quits? I feel like I'm failing him by not fixing the problem. I've had him 7 years, and this is the first time he's ever had a serious issue, but I'm hemorrhaging money and there's no end in sight.

    Enlighten me, please. I'm so lost right now.
    Last edited by JustABay; Jun. 6, 2011, 09:18 PM.

  • #2
    Right now, I'd do another course of robaxin, but keep riding him through it to see what progress you feel. I'd lay off all the lunging and rigging to see if you're just making everything else stiff and sore trying to make the back not hurt. But the fact that you don't see or feel it at the canter makes me question whether this new occurrence is actually in the back.


    • #3
      What do you mean by "tight and stiff but not lame"? Do you mean there is no obvious limp? Bilateral lameness often does not show a limp...until the horse gets more sore on one leg than the other.

      Does his back show soreness upon palpation?
      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


      • #4
        I agree with CBoylen, and if that doesn't work, I would maybe give him the summer off. Good turnout and let him have a chance to heal. This will also save you some money and if you aren't going to have a show season might be a valid option.


        • #5
          A video would really help, and you might get some good advice for free!

          Is he what I call "shuffling" behind?

          And losing weight in a couple of weeks, that would mean muscle too, to the point the saddle doesn't fit seems alittle unlikely to me. Are you sure you are getting good advice?

          The saddle rubbing bald spots on his back? In all the years I've riden I've never seen that.
          I guess what I'm getting at, is it seems you haven't had good advice during this whole process.

          It sounds like your saddle never fit and the treatments you've done were not the correct one.

          Get a video done.


          • #6
            You said you have had him 7 years and no major problems until now. So consider yourself lucky! Now its time to pay up, and since you wont be showing now its sounds like, and your a student so showing while being a student is really hard, at least you can put the showing money and lesson money into making him better. I unfortunately had a series of bad lamenesses with my horses (I am also a student, paying everything myself, no parental support what so ever, no trust fund, NOTHING) and had to pour well over $20,000 in vet bills in my two horses over the past few years (just vet bills alone, not board, farrier anything like that) forget showing. I consider my self lucky that by the time I am out of school I will have two healthy horses to ride (hopefully) luckily they got their injuries while I was in school and don't have time to ride anyway. $2,000 is not that bad. Your in school, focus on that and focus on doing everything you can to make your horse better.


            • #7
              Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
              Right now, I'd do another course of robaxin, but keep riding him through it to see what progress you feel. I'd lay off all the lunging and rigging to see if you're just making everything else stiff and sore trying to make the back not hurt. But the fact that you don't see or feel it at the canter makes me question whether this new occurrence is actually in the back.
              I'm with you on this. To OP: can you ride him out in a field or large open area, where he doesn't have to feel confinded? I'd put a Mattes pad or something under one of the saddles; take him out and let him do some work at the walk. Up a hill, down a hill, forward walk, shorter walk, serpentines, there is lots you can do to supple and start to rebuild a bit. After a few days of this, try some trot - not in small space but in larger open area, Just do enough to see how he feels and if it loosens up. Encourage stretching down through neck.
              We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


              • #8
                The Pessoa-system can make them pretty sore. Not that you are over-doing it, but I'm not a big fan of lunging - the tight turns aren't particularly beneficial for any limb. Another cheap thing you can do, in addition to the Robaxin, is a course of an NSAID to see if that leads to improvement. Is he better on cushy-grass or firmer footing? Circles or straight? He has a new farrier, did his angels change too quickly? Was he overly aggressive and now your horse has some foot-soreness?

                I'm curious, with all this weight loss...I'd be thinking lyme or maybe even the dreaded EPM...to get sores & have a saddle not fit so quickly?

                I feel your pain. But sometimes it's not a bad thing to take a step back & simplify the diagnostics when you've already dished out a lot.


                • #9
                  The rubs on the back are a red flag to me in terms of saddle fit... I hate to say it since it sounds like you just spent a bunch of cash on a new one.

                  But I might give it a few days, with some robaxin and NSAIDS and then get on bareback to see what you have.

                  I'd also quit using that Pessoa rig for a while, as it can make them really, really sore and it's easy to over do it.

                  If you are worried about fitness, you can keep a horse in GREAT shape just walking, believe it or not, especially if you have some countryside available to hack out in. Thomas1 who used to post here pretty frequently had a great program for that; do a search and you might be able to find it.

                  My other thought was Lyme, having been down that road myself. I know it stinks to contemplate another vet bill, but if you haven't pulled a titer yet, I would do that.

                  Good luck and hang in there.
                  We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                  • Original Poster

                    Wow, 20, 000 in vet bills?!?! I do consider myself very lucky to have not had anything majorly wrong up until now, so even paying the 2k is terrifying to me. Every time I go see him, I can just hear "cha ching, cha ching" with every bad step he takes

                    He does not show any head bob, and by tight and stiff, I mean that he is taking little short steps with front and looks stabby with the hind, and when asked to go forward, he'd rather canter or just takes shorter, faster steps and inverts. It is worse on harder footing. I wish I could take video, but I have nothing to even take a video with...Let me ask around and see if I can borrow something.

                    As for the saddle fit, I had it fitted by a very reputable, very highly recommended saddle fitter who came out twice to check and adjust fit....However my horse lost a LOT of weight (Enough for my vet to comment when she came out to do teeth and shots prior to me leaving the old barn) and it was causing the saddle to slide back - which it hadn't done previous to him losing the weight.

                    His back is sore to palpation only on the left side, around midback. The spurs were located further back and that area is not at all sore to palpation, and the rest of his back is fine. He will be getting his usual massage on Wednesday, so I'll see what that does.


                    • #11
                      Did you try Doxy? Lyme disease hides in mysterious ways. It is worth a try-
                      I too have had saddle nightmares at I bought my dwb as a 2yo and now he is 10. I usually give him Robaxin and also switched NSADs to Naproxin (better for backs). I ride bareback from time to time so that I can "feel" the horse.
                      I also have a Back on Track blanket. An electric heated blanket on the back for a few minutes or more before riding can help relax them on cold days. I am not a big on the LL, unless I want to watch him go. And I got sick of "time off" so I just keep riding. Good luck!


                      • #12
                        I'm at the point where I just don't even know if it's worth it to put any more money into him (I'm a student and am paying for all of this via line of credit) and had some big plans for show season, which is looking like a wash now. At what point is it OK to call it quits?
                        OK, let me just say that if you are down to a line of credit and a student, you don't need to be showing or even planning on showing, or boarding somewhere fancy, or taking lessons. You don't need to be getting massage or saddle fittings for your horse.

                        You need to find a place you can board the horse safely and cheaply for now. Sell your saddles (if you can) and get his weight back up. Maybe try some shim pads to get a better fit if you want to ride. Take it easy. Trail rides.

                        You really can get yourself into a bad financial situation quickly if you keep putting this stuff on credit. If he is sound enough to enjoy a paddock/pasture, you aren't being cruel by not paying for the massage and other vet visits. I have to imagine if it is back soreness due to saddle fit, that the rest won't hurt him further.

                        If it was my horse, I'd call the vet out one last time, explain your lack of money and the best, most conservative route to take (basically insure that there isn't something like a fracture that could get worse due to light work and turnout), and then just be done. I have watched so many people pour money into their horses only to see them give up and do pasture rest after spending thousands. Then see the pasture rest end up working....


                        • #13
                          Rest has always been a friend to my sore OTTBs - that and a pasture they can just relax in.
                          Little Star Chihuahua Rescue
                          The Barkalicious Bakery
                          On Facebook!!!


                          • #14
                            Ditto magnolia73's post.

                            It is OK to call it quits before you start taking out a line of credit to have a horse while a student.

                            BUT --

                            I have one of those horses I spent thousands in vet bills on, finally retired at age 12, turned him out on the family farm and at age 13, magically had a sound horse again. He's been back in work and sound ever since, still jumping at 17.

                            Robaxin is great stuff, though, try it and see what happens. Sell your saddles on ebay and buy something cheaper that fits. Ditch the masseuse, if you saddle fits and you aren't longeing him in that thing your horse shouldn't need it.

                            Burn the Pessoa rig.


                            • #15
                              Advice #1-- STOP using the pessoa lunging rig!! A sore horse should probably not be lunging at all, let alone lunging in a rig. When I need to keep a horse in shape that is just NQR I hand walk. Hand walk down the side of the road, around the field, basically any straight away with a slightly rolling terain.

                              If you are going into financial problems, perhaps you need to take a step back. It may not hurt to just find field board and turn the beast out for a year...it does not sound like this horse is going to be show ready anyways.
                              Concentrate on school so you can afford this expensive hobby when you get out.


                              • #16
                                I kind of cringe when I read a lunging program in a Pessoa rig is the base of your program. It does not seem to be improving anything, has reputation for making some of them sore when overused and that ought to tell you something. Small circles can be tough when repeated too often even without some kind of rig forcing a particular "frame" on them. But it is your horse and your choice.

                                Trying more meds and spending on all that chiro and massage without really knowing what the cause is seems to be a waste of money IMO.

                                Honestly, if you do not want to spend any more-and don't have it to spend? Go see Dr Green.

                                Turn the horse out and give it a good long time to get healthy. Pull the shoes too. Horse and your wallet will benefit. Maybe look at him early next spring.

                                Sell that rig "system" thing. I'd say burn it too but you need some extra money.
                                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                                • #17
                                  I had a horse with SI issues and his story was very similar to your horse's. First it seemed like we had some saddle fit issues, got that worked out and he seemed better temporarily, but then was NQR behind again. He moved just as you describe your horse is currently moving--stiff looking and not wanting to move out, but not always appreciably lame. The issue was worse at the trot, some days we'd go right into canter to get loosened up, the canter didn't show a problem.

                                  I'm always a big advocate of chucking them out in the field for 6mos-a year to help weird issues resolve, but that did nothing for this horse. My vet encouraged fitness to help with the issue--longing, riding, anything to keep him fit. The fitness did seem to help, but after a year of working on the problem with a meticulous rehab program he still was sort of on again-off again slightly lame behind and I ended up giving him away to a light work home (he was very well trained). Anyway, people have given you a lot of good ideas, but yes, there is a point where whether the vets can tell you what it is or not you still have a lame horse.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by JustABay View Post
                                    I've put about 2k into him in the past few months with vet visits, saddle fitters, chiro, massage, supplements, and new (very expensive) farrier.
                                    Wow. I am VERY jealous of you. That is some VERY cheap care.

                                    Originally posted by cute_lil_fancy_pants_pony View Post
                                    You said you have had him 7 years and no major problems until now. So consider yourself lucky!
                                    I agree.

                                    Originally posted by findeight View Post
                                    I kind of cringe when I read a lunging program in a Pessoa rig is the base of your program. It does not seem to be improving anything, has reputation for making some of them sore when overused and that ought to tell you something. Small circles can be tough when repeated too often even without some kind of rig forcing a particular "frame" on them.
                                    I also agree.

                                    I second/third/fourth everyone's opinions on giving him the summer off, if you can afford it, and keeping up with routine rehab (handwalking/light under saddle work) and drugs if necessary.


                                    • #19
                                      When you say "call it quits" what exactly do you mean by that? Ship him to mexico for slaughter? Have the vet put him down? What exactly would that entail?


                                      • Original Poster

                                        He is currently on outdoor board in a huuuuuge hilly grass pasture and is happier than I've ever seen him. I would love to pull the shoes, but with his crappy TB feet, he'd be down to nubbins in a week. My new farrier is wonderful, and even though he is pricier than my last guy, the quality of work is worth it IMO.

                                        Ironically, the vet recommended the Pessoa program along with lots of lungeing over trot poles to help him rehab after the back issues. I saw a world of difference after 3 weeks of lungeing in the rig 2-3x weekly - side reins never worked for him, he would resist them and invert if they started bouncing, or would curl up to avoid them. I would be interested to hear why so may of you dislike the rig. I realize it's like draw reins, in the sense that it can be used wrong and ruin a horse, but with careful monitoring and use, can it not be as beneficial, if not more so than side reins for certain horses? Not meaning that to sound snarky, I am genuinely interested in input as I had never used a rig until now.

                                        Also wanted to add that my guy is 14 this year and he's getting up there. I was really hoping to be able to make it to a few shows this season as we hadn't been able to make it out for the past few years due to one thing or another. I had saved up some money to do the local schooling shows and a friend of mine who is currently horseless wanted to take him to some shows as well. This is my last summer "off" as a student, I know that once I graduate next year and get into the real world I won't have the time to show. I think that's the worst part...Moving to this great new place, finally getting going with lessons and doing better than ever, planning a season and then *poof* all gone. I know many of you have had this happen before, but it sure sucks to see all the hopes and plans sitting in a field eating grass doing nothing.

                                        ETA: "Call it quits" pretty much means give him to a friend of mine as a buddy horse for her old guy or ship him to a cheapie farm to retire.

                                        Anyhow, thanks for the input all....Sometimes a good hard dose of reality is needed