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Mystery Ailment... Any ideas??

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  • Mystery Ailment... Any ideas??

    I'm turning to the COTH crew to see if anyone can shed some light on this super-odd situation. You guys always have experiences and suggestions outside the box, so you never know...

    Mr Perfect Horse is acting out of character. Many odd symptoms that aren't always consistently present. If we didn't know the horse well, we'd say it is all behavioral and he needs his fat butt beat... but we do know him and no one (owner, BO, trainer (me), barnmates) can quite believe it's just attitude. Horse is generally a perfect 2'3" packer for his adult owner that has a line waiting to own him if she ever sells him.

    - Weird "hop" at trot tracking left only, usually when he doesn't want to go forward, like he's hopping into a canter. Works out of it once you get him going. Doesn't do it on the bit or when going forward or on circles. However, he has a history of doing this and we suspect it is not necessarily a symptom and is just a thing he does because he's pokey and lazy.
    - Horse is otherwise completely sound.
    - Major attitude change. Grumpier than usual. Tried to attack me multiple times when I tried to lunge him. Teeth bared, ears pinned, charging me at the center. Really glad I had a lunge whip. :/
    - Sensitive under belly. Tries to bite you or cow kick you when you touch him there. SOMETIMES! Other times, couldn't care less!
    - Doesn't want to go forward on lunge line (with or without tack) or with rider. On lunge line he charged me. On his back he'll reach back and try to bite you, kick out, buck, pin ears, etc. However, if you DO get him going, he will trot and canter beautifully on a loose rein or in a frame, bend, collect, etc. No problem. But if you stop for a minute and try to go again, Mr Evil comes back.

    Other info and what we've done so far:
    - Horse is a 11yo QH pinto gelding
    - No recent changes except body clipping (which he's had before with no issues) and chiro apt. Chiro says he's the most fit, soundest she's ever seen him and the soreness in his back he's previously had is great. No major issues.
    - Vet came out. Also says the most fit and sound he's ever seen horse.
    - Ran panel, no issues.
    - Doesn't suspect ulcers (which was my guess)
    - Lymes test came back "mildly positive" - you know, like every other horse in NJ will... Horse is on doxy now, just in case, but that's not the problem.
    - EPM test negative.
    - Hooves are good.
    - Teeth were done a month or so ago by a quality dentist

    We are taking him to MidAtlantic tomorrow, hoping they can come up with something everyone else has missed. I'm thinking the next step is animal communicator... We just don't want to believe he's being this much of an @$$hole for no reason... ANY IDEAS???
    ...for there are wings on these hooves, the speed and power of foam-capped waves...
    Proud member of the artists clique

  • #2
    No ideas from me, but a horse at our barn does that stupid trot hop thing to his rider... He does it to knock him off of the correct diagonal and it works.. every time.. Drives us nuts. Usually it's when the horse has his nose poked up in the air and is hollow... When more experienced riders ride him, the hop goes away...
    He is also a very grouchy type lately. Wasn't like this previously. I'd say he pretty sensitive about the girth being tightened, jerk on the cross ties and a lot of teech gnashing and head tilting when he's being ridden..

    We've narrowed it down to saddle fit with this horse.. The owner's saddle doesn't fit him well, and the owner is also a VERY busy rider. The saddle rubbed a big hole in his withers.. I mean it fits him very poorly. Maybe it's the saddle fit?? Even if there's no sore there...

    My saddle fits this particular horse pretty well, and he get better and better when I've ridden him in the past, but I'm also a much quieter, softer and smaller rider than his owner, so it may just be my riding.


    • #3
      Did you scope him for ulcers or try a few days of gastroguard to see if he gets better? There's no way to suspect/not suspect ulcers w/o at least addressing them.

      Can you pinpoint a day in which this all started or was it gradual? I have a GREAT chiro who has been doing my horses for years but after doing one horse (who she had done before) he started showing very strange symptoms. Come to find out he had 'tweaked' a muscle (or something to that effect) from her doing him.

      My first step would be treating for ulcers and see if there's a change. Sounds very much to be like a pain/fear response


      • #4
        I'd be tempted to get second opinion from another chiro. I knew a horse that did the same thing AH123 is talking about... tried to toss the rider onto the other diagonal. Turned out he had a rib that would pop up a bit and that by posting on the one diagonal you were making it uncomfortable. Fitness improved this because the topline muslce seemed to help keep the rib in place, but since your guy is fit maybe that isn't it. I'd still get a second opinion. Spinal issues can cause all sorts of things since so many nerves go off the spine.


        • #5
          Second actually looking for ulcers or treating for them. Sounds like a pain issue of his back, ribs, sternum. Or stifles catching.


          • #6
            Has his turn out situation changed? Is he with different herd mates? Maybe being picked on outside?


            • Original Poster

              Ulcers were my thought, but the vet said he thought that was "possible, but unlikely". I had suggested we ulcergard him for the hay of it, but owner really doesn't want to waste any more time just in case something bigger is wrong. I will be mentioning the ulcer guess to the vets at MA tomorrow.

              We have definitely considered something went wrong in his chiro adjustment since that was pretty much the only turning point we could identify - the change was generally sudden, although it's almost like an extreme of natural characteristics - but the vet found nothing wrong and nothing he doesn't seem sore anywhere. Still a definite possibility considering it started the first day back after adjustment. However, hopping existed long before this adjustment and attitude change.

              Saddle fit is not a problem. Saddle fitter has worked with saddle and horse and his back has never been better.

              Turn out had not changed before the changes in attitude. He has private turnout in a big field that still has grass and wears a muzzle because if not be looks like a Thelwell pony. BOs tried varying turnout after this started to see if that would help and that DID NOT go well. lol
              ...for there are wings on these hooves, the speed and power of foam-capped waves...
              Proud member of the artists clique


              • #8
                A friend of mine's horse did the same thing. After lots of tests and xrays he was diagnosed with "kissing spine". He had to get some injections into the muscles in his back and is now on a drug called Tildren. He also has to do some stretching exercises before and during riding. But he is doing really well and has stopped hopping. His hopping also looked like he was about to canter. He is a 10 Dutch horse. Hope this helps

                Hell hath no fury like the chestnut thoroughbred mare


                • #9
                  Call the chiropractor. Tell him or her about the sudden change in attitude right after the adjustment. If it hasn't been a super long time since the adjustment they should offer to come out and check and readjust the horse.


                  • #10
                    I'd suspect the chiro as well. His symptoms sound kissing-spine-ish, so I wonder if something got tweaked the wrong way, nerve pinched, etc. Not necessarily going to show up on physical exam, until asked to work in a way that puts pressure on the owie spot.

                    I'd also look into ulcers.


                    • #11
                      I have a horse that went through behavioral changes. He would also stop and stand parked out, as well as bite at his sides. He was thoroughly checked for urinary issues. Nothing there. Next was ulcer treatment. Nothing changed. He was scoped for ulcers. No ulcers. After ultrasounding various organs with no luck and being proclaimed a very healthy horse, the vet did a lameness exam. The culprit? His SI joints. Injecting them produced a no-issues horse.


                      • #12
                        I would guess a very subtle unsoundness issue if ulcers, saddle fit, and Lyme have been ruled out (my other first hunches).

                        Is he normally a stoic type? My guess is that something's been brewing for a while and now he can't help but "lash out" at the pain sometimes, but then he bucks up and goes back to work like a good doobie because he doesn't know to say no, even if that means working through pain. He is Mr. Perfect, afterall.

                        The fact that he's so bad on the lunge screams pain to me, in his back or stifles, somewhere that circling will aggravate more than traveling straight. Stifle issues can be really tricky to pinpoint. I'd look there if his back truely seems to be fine.
                        friend of bar.ka


                        • #13
                          Have you tested for PSSM?
                          Blog chronicling our new eventing adventures: Riding With Scissors


                          • #14
                            I'd also be looking to EPSM/PSSM.... the pissiness, girthiness, unwillingness to go forward are classic markers for it. Might be mild, hence why it wasn't picked up on. It will never hurt to change the diet (UBER low starch, NO sugar, higher fat) and see how he does over the next 3 - 6 months. Feel free to contact Dr. Beth Valentine over at www.ruralheritage.com - She's fantastic to bounce ideas off of and get diet assistance.
                            <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                            • #15
                              Did you test JUST for lyme or for other tick-bourne diseases too? And did you do the Cornell test? If not, I might add that to the list if he doesn't improve on the Doxy and there's nothing else you can pinpoint. The good news is, you're treating him so if it's lyme you're getting on top of it...
                              "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                              • #16
                                Is it his front or back legs that he does the weird hoppy thing with? What about stringhalt? My barn had a horse, many years ago, that had symptoms like yours and the hopping leg pulling just got worse before the diagnosis came in. He had surgery and went on to being a 3ft to 3ft3 jumper until his retirement last year at 21 yrs!
                                Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!


                                • Original Poster

                                  Well, our visit to MA was successful.
                                  Checked for kissing spine and all clear. Yay! A slight closeness at one spot in his back does show us now why we've had to work hard with saddle fit but thankfully is not a major concern.
                                  Checked kidneys and functions and all clear.
                                  Lymes appears not to be the issue but will be continuing the course of Doxy. Vet mentioned but did not recommend the Cornell test.
                                  The assumed culprit? A bleeding ulcer.
                                  Silly horse is such a food hoarder he still had food in his tummy for first scoping and we had to wait hours for him to pass it so we could get a better view, but there it was. While waiting, he showed off his lunging trick to the vets and attendants.... oy. No one could believe such a sweet, handsome boy could look like *that*, lol.

                                  So Mr. Perfect gets a week to be a horse, a month of meds, and hopefully he'll be back doing his perfect thing in a couple weeks. ::fingers crossed::
                                  ...I just had a feeling it was going to be an ulcer...
                                  ...for there are wings on these hooves, the speed and power of foam-capped waves...
                                  Proud member of the artists clique


                                  • #18
                                    Thanks for the update! Hope he is back to his old self in no time.


                                    • #19
                                      Oh good, hope the month of treatment does the trick!
                                      "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                                      • #20
                                        Glad you got the issue diagnosed. What do they think caused the bleeding ulcer?