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Young Gaited Gelding's Head on the Ground, Any Ideas?

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  • Young Gaited Gelding's Head on the Ground, Any Ideas?

    Prefacing this by saying he's my friend's horse, she has given the additional info below, he's stumping her local vets, and is being hauled across TX to one of the best in the region for further evaluation. The question here is, anyone ever seen something like this before? He is a registered SSH, by a well-known GC stallion out of an equally well-gaited mare, gaited normally before he contracted strangles at the trainer's farm. He is over a year past being cleared.

    Her words:

    Watch the way he keeps his head to the ground when he moves. He does this at liberty, in the pasture, when we are roundpenning and tries hard to do it under saddle. I'd like the group to see it and see if anyone can spot something wrong with him so I have something to bring to the vets in LA. I don't know if it's a chiro problem, a result of the strangles or he's just messing with my mind. Help would be appreciated.

    He is six the end of April, he is saddle broke, trained for six months, does or did a beautiful big strided gait. After we got him home and he was so ill, we didn't ride him for about a year, since then he started the head dropping thing, and really that is the only sign we have that there is something wrong with him. We haven't really done anything much with him since. I have insisted there is something wrong with him, everyone had told me no, he's ok, he's just being lazy and immature and pulling one over on his soft hearted/headed owner. I will cop to being both...but there is something wrong with this horse.


    Horse in Round Pen

    The inclination in this previously very gaited horse is to trot now

  • #2
    it is interesting to me that when he raises his head he comes back to the flat walk....and trots with his head like that

    was the strangles localized in the "regular" place?
    not popped out in the jaw or someplace weird?
    and was it really strangles and not a bad cold ?

    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


    • #3
      How is his eyesight? Has it been checked?
      I want a signature but I have nothing original to say except: "STHU and RIDE!!!

      Wonderful COTHER's I've met: belleellis, stefffic, snkstacres and janedoe726.


      • Original Poster

        Absolutely strangles. Things I don't want to get into regarding how it came back to their farm but it spread in her herd and they were quarrantined. He had a guttural pouch issue, was scoped and the vet packed the pouch with a penicillin gel, did that twice. Took him back the third time and the vet pronounced him clean. After a couple of months, the horse still didn't act right, so he went back for another scope, he was definitely clean with no scarring.

        More from owner:

        He is never stumbly or uncoordinated. Any horse that can gallop with his nose on the ground without kicking his chin, is fairly well coordinated. He often seems vacant tho, like no one is home upstairs. You really have to "teach" him stuff, whereas the others seem to pick it up with little or no trouble. Which is interesting, because he's a Houdini, never met a knot he couldn't untie or a gate he can't get out of and he can get into more trouble than my whole herd. He has no problem moving, he just lowers that head to the ground and goes.

        He's by a five time WGC stud and his mom has multiple WGC's back there, he hit the ground gaiting.


        • #5
          Wow. I have NO idea what would cause that, but I would definitely say that is NOT something the horse is doing just to get out of work. With the history of infection/scoping/packing/etc., I'm wondering if maybe there was some resultant nerve damage that causes him discomfort/discombobulation when he moves at a more forward pace than a walk. What does he do under saddle when he's not allowed to lower his head?

          Jingles for a clear diagnosis and a good outcome. He doesn't look particularly distressed, but that can't be fun.
          Patience pays.


          • #6
            HAS he been checked out by a competent chiro? We had a very talented young Paso mare we bought from Texas that had a similar problem; would gait like a fiend when allowed to lower her head, but if you tried to collect her she would fall apart into this weird gait-in-front, TWH-stride in back thing and generally pitch a fit from discomfort. Had her checked out and the chiro said she was compromised from the poll back. He was able to make her comfortable, but we never felt she would be solid enough to ride without re-injury. Found out later that she had been backed as a petite 2 year old by a very, very heavy guy who probably damaged her. Possible your horse injured himself while sick in the stall or all the scoping tweaked a nerve somewhere?

            BTW our mares personality completely changed once the chiro made her comfortable -- she gained weight and was generally more relaxed. Wondering if the 'vacant-ness' you describe is the horse being pre-occupied with pain.
            Last edited by BarbaricYawp; Jan. 31, 2012, 08:49 PM. Reason: Another thought


            • #7
              My guess is arthritis in the cervical spine. A bone scan would be useful.


              • Original Poster

                She starts all her horses later, by the same trainer she's used for many years. I truly am not concerned about that part. All the good diagnostic equipment will be available at the clinic, but where to start?


                • #9
                  My tb did that, I don't longe him or ride him anymore so i dont know if he still does it.
                  But his neck was never so rigid as this one's. He'd flip his nose every few steps, the horse in the video is not flexible. Interestingly my tb is also a "dreamer", he stares off into the distance "musing". He is also not aware of where his feet are, but he doesn't appear to have vision problems I think.
                  My tb has various problems, osselets, ringbone and had a chip in his front pastern and kissing spines. He really moved better after acupuncture and chiro. The chiropractor said his "atlas" was really out. He had very little lateral movement (can't do the carrot stretch).

                  P.S. What is going on between 1 and 3 in the video, right after the leaf pile? He looks like he is going to fall, recovers and his head comes back up after he recovers.
                  Could he possibly need to see his feet to stay up, rather than feel the rhythm ?


                  • #10
                    ok with the understanding that my personal first hand WEIRD complications after strangles is N=2 :>

                    BUT I saw lots of strangles as a teenager, as my boss dealt solely in killers and those trying REAL hard to become killer horses...

                    one gelding (after a long drawn out nasty case of it that popped out both under his jaw AND in a sore in his nose) held his head crooked for years after ward...like a half blinded horse might turn and look...what the old people called a stargazer...at the correct height but off to one side...

                    the second was a yearling who 6 mos after the "recovery" held his head down below his withers and tilted to one side for most of the time....not in any seeming pain but that was just "where his head went"....they ended up killing him that same year, while the other horse was quite suited to give walk only riders to tourists for at least two seasons...

                    so, do I "know" what's up ? no...but strangles can mess them up in a bad way long after its gone....

                    in that video there is something totally weird in the front of the wither as well....almost like the neck just falls way from the withers themselves
                    the neck underside is also too developed

                    Last edited by Tamara in TN; Feb. 2, 2012, 09:24 AM.
                    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


                    • #11
                      He looks like he has damaged a nerve/s in his neck. You can check to see if he has also damaged some hind leg nerves (which run down the neck) by seeing if he will allow you to cross his back feet. Your vet can do other neurological tests to confirm.

                      We did DMSO drenches (oh lawd did they smell!) but the mare in question never regained full use of her hind, but she did stop dragging her neck.
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                      • Original Poster

                        Well, he's scheduled for a clinical workup (and 2 hr haul) at a good clinic and consulting a recommended chiro to see him while out there so hopefully something helpful will come out of it and assist in treating him. Thanks for tossing some thoughts around.


                        • #13
                          I would also guess some kind of nerve damage in the neck or shoulder. I had a mare with a supra-scapular nerve injury and she had trouble raising her head for a few weeks, but she also couldn't lift her shoulder or trot...it was all she could do to walk.

                          She eventually recovered and taught many, many lessons for me but those months were very scary for me thinking I was going to have to put her down.
                          Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.
                          Bernard M. Baruch


                          • #14
                            do neck xrays. AGree with all of the above about either possible nerve damage, or maybe neck arthritis.


                            • #15
                              Any update?


                              • #16
                                Weird... my young horse will go around like that.. but not in the pasture, and not all the time. But she does like to stick her nose down like that in the round pen.... but she has ALWAYS done this.
                                APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                                • Original Poster

                                  He saw a second set of specialists at one of the biggest clinics in TX today. Both have said while he drags his hind legs some, it is not a lameness issue. First clinic sent him home as is. Second said there was nothing conclusive but that a horse doesn't move like that unless there is something wrong and the only way to find out what it is, is to start eliminating things. So we started with EPM tests. Those geo sent off, with results probably back in next Wed.

                                  If positive, they'll cocktail him for EPM. If not he goes back to Vinton for an MRI on his neck, where the second special thinks the problem will be if it's not EPM and go from there.

                                  Atop this, her elderly mother up north is in very delicate health the past month. She is flying out to be with her and could use jingles all around. She's a super sweet woman and her horses have the very best of anything they could ever want. This boy is a home bred and dear to her, so it adds to the heartbreak as she tries to find answers.


                                  • #18
                                    Jingles for your friend, her horse, and her mom. She's having a very tough time of it right now I have no idea what the horse's problem might be, but yeah, that's weird.
                                    The Little Red Mare: French Curve

                                    and my non-horse blog: oh, rebecca!