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Discussion on NQR to lame to NQR and so on...

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Jill Marks
New Member
Username: efobryne

Post Number: 2
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Saturday, Dec 8, 2007 - 11:36 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

17 H, 17 year old grade Percheron gelding in light work (though usually ridden and or lunged 4 -5 times a week -- just not hard work).

2 1/2 weeks ago -- noticed that I kept picking up the wrong diagonal on the right rein.

A day or two later, he seemed very stiff in the shoulders and short strided up front when lunged on a circle to the right. Then very slight head bob started to appear intermittently.

Same pattern when lunged over the next few days -- so basically just at the edge of being not quite right and almost lame.

Barn owner lunged him for me and said he trotted out fine.

Next day I lunged him and it was a head bobbing day. Seemed ouchy on the right fore.

Started just hand walking, large around the arena. Had the chiropractor out and she found he needed a bit of adjustment in his right shoulder and right hind. But she didn't feel it was necessarily the cause of the problem and could just have been a reaction to some pain/discomfort elsewhere. He has had problem with his back end before (sacrum) manifesting itself in stumbling. This is now under control.

We began to think he might be working on an abscess.

Next day, still NQR. Day after he had a trim and farrier (BO's husband) checked for ouchiness. Nothing.

There is no heat and there are no lumps nor swelling anywhere on his legs}. No pulse nor excessive heat in his hooves.

He does not seem to be in a major amount of discomfort but he can be quite stoic.

Three days ago he looked quite lame. Still no heat, no lumps, no swelling -- and still quite a cheerful horse. The next day, he was worse and did not look quite so cheerful. Last night he looked better. Still lame but not quite as severe and moved off in a jog more willingly.

BO has suggested we see how he does over the weekend before calling in the vet unless he suddenly worsens.

It is possible he may have pulled something -- it was a bit slippery a couple of weeks ago. The only other change in his routine is he is wearing a turnout sheet which he hasn't worn in the past. It is designed to fit a draft horse so it shouldn't be causing a problem.

I had posted this question on a local equine bulletin board. Some people agreed that it could be a stubborn abscess, others felt it might be soft tissue like a groin pull or a check ligament. Other people have suggested arthritic or navicular changes. Their feeling is that these changes can present themselves suddenly. My feeling is that generally these sort of problems don't appear without some sort of early signs. He is my only horse, so I am very sensitive to his movement and actually before this started I felt he was going the best I'd felt since I got him two years ago.

I am puzzled by the onset of this. To me it seems too rapid to be arthritis etc. but too slow to indicate an acute injury
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Lee
Member
Username: paul303

Post Number: 996
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Saturday, Dec 8, 2007 - 11:19 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Have you tried bute to see if it makes any difference? How long is the sheet on him? Equus had an article a few months back about "blanket lameness". It applied to horses that spend a long time blanketed.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 19672
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Sunday, Dec 9, 2007 - 8:26 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Jill,
Though the history suggests acute, this may be an acute exacerbation of a chronic process so this is not the way to go about guessing at the cause of the lameness. First you localize a leg, then localize where in the leg, and from there a diagnosis can be made, for more on this process see Diseases of Horses » Lameness » Localizing Lameness in the Horse .
DrO
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 19675
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Sunday, Dec 9, 2007 - 8:42 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Opps I had the wrong reference above but now it has been corrected and should have read: Diseases of Horses » Lameness » Localizing Lameness in the Horse.
DrO
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Elizabeth Kaufman
Member
Username: ekaufman

Post Number: 205
Registered: 3-2007
Posted on Sunday, Dec 9, 2007 - 10:08 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Jill,

I'd be inclined to have a thorough lameness exam, including blocks if/as necessary. Probably worth keeping a log to see if you can reliably produce the lameness, so you don't find yourself evaluating a temporarily sound horse.

One comment-- for a horse that age and that size, lunging on a small circle may be harder than you think, even if he isn't getting himself covered in sweat. Even in good footing and at a reasonable gait, those small circles are not easy.
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Jill Marks
New Member
Username: efobryne

Post Number: 3
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Sunday, Dec 9, 2007 - 11:05 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thank you for your input.

Lee, I had heard about blanket lameness which is why he is wearing a "Big Fella" style blanket for draft horses. They are cut deeper and longer than ordinary blankets. If the weather warms up a bit I will make sure he goes without it for a few days to see if there is a difference.

Dr. O. I have gone through the Localizing lameness article and we cannot find where the lameness is localized. My farrier and chiropractor did flexion tests with him and he was able to do his leg stretches fine at the end of his chiropractic session freely and willingly (that is why at that stage we started thinking abscess). There is still no heat, no lumps or swelling. All I know for certain is it is the right fore and he is waxing between level 2 and level 3.

Elizabeth, yes the BO, her husband the farrier and I decided last night that an abscess is probably not the issue. The ground in the turnout paddocks is hard enough now that if it were an abscess he likely would have "dinged" the sensitive spot by now and come in three legged. So we will be getting the vet out.

As for lunging -- he was only lunged for short periods before riding and I have the longest line possible -- so he's basically doing a 20 m circle as one would do in a training level dressage test. He is not cantered on the lunge -- only when free lunged. As for being lunged to the point of being sweaty -- I have to have a bit of a giggle. When I say this boy is in light work, I mean very light work. The only time he breaks into a sweat is in his stall during the dog days of summer. The heat is very hard on these large fellows so he spend his summers inside during the day, only venturing out at night.

He hasn't been lunged since he went off and has been hand walked large around the arena by my son so I can keep an eye on him.

Once he has warmed up, I have had my son jog him straight down the long side or centre line just to see if there is any improvement. We've figured out the pattern that he seems to take 3 to 4 sound steps and then goes off. This is sometimes preceded by a very slight stumble (only took me two weeks to figure that one out). So then it's back to walking.

So I will get the vet out as soon as possible next week.
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Jill Marks
New Member
Username: efobryne

Post Number: 4
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Sunday, Dec 9, 2007 - 1:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Sorry -- just noticed I said we stopped lunging him when he went off -- that should read once he was consistently head bobbing off. And he was walking on the lunge. I have a foot injury myself so walking in the arena for any length of time is awkward thus the use of the lunge line. Now my son has agreed to hand walk him large for me so no lunging at all.
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Elizabeth Kaufman
Member
Username: ekaufman

Post Number: 206
Registered: 3-2007
Posted on Sunday, Dec 9, 2007 - 4:38 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Jill,

Sounds like one for a good diagnostic exam. Hopefully it's something that you can treat or manage-- sounds like a well cared for (and large!) guy. I sure hope you can find/fix the problem.

"Blanket lameness" is new to me-- what is it?
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Angie J.
Member
Username: ajudson1

Post Number: 1509
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Sunday, Dec 9, 2007 - 6:55 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have had horses with mysterious lamenesses before and I've found that sometimes it's something in the shoulder that just eludes diagnosis.

Have you tried a 6-10 week program of a joint supplement? That with a daily Bute tablet to help with any inflammation that may not be found in his legs, but may be in deep shoulder muscle.

I use Aniflex Complete, and 1-2 Bute tabs, depending on severity of lameness and size of the horse. And rest of course. Maybe 6 weeks of the supplement, and 1-2 weeks of the Bute, then stop all after 6 weeks, and see how he does. If he's fine on the supplement, and not fine off of it, that may be all you can do. Of course if you can find the problem, that is best.

And a good barefoot trim can do wonders too. My guy with the shoulder lameness improved after I started doing my own trimming, may be just luck of course.
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Jill Marks
New Member
Username: efobryne

Post Number: 5
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Sunday, Dec 9, 2007 - 8:48 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Elizabeth -- I haven't actually read the full article in Equus. I have just seen excerpts. Basically the problem is horses being outfitted in clothes that are a size or two too small. The blanket puts pressure on the withers which results in the horse looking off at the front end. The horse should jog out sound once the blanket is left off, but the problem is that some horses may also be wearing ill-fitting tack that continues to put pressure on the affected area.

Angie, thank you for the suggestion about treatment for a deep shoulder problem. After the abscess theory, this was the theory of choice at the barn until recently (it's still my BO's favourite theory). There is a retired Western gaming horse at the barn, about the same age as my plough beast, and he does have a shoulder problem so I will mention this treatment to his owner. Currently, after about a year of rest and rehab and his owner cutting back on what she expected of him, he is staying sound.

The vet will be coming out and doing a full diagnostic on my horse -- unfortunately not until the end of the week due to my work hours.

Meantime my guy will be going out for a little bit each day by himself, but I think since we've pretty well ruled out an abscess we will leave hand walking out of his routine.

Thank you everyone so much for your input. I am very worried that it may be something serious and chronic. He is a great Labrador Retriever of the horse and a very sweet guy. Percheron Congress is going to be in Toronto Canada in 2008 (100 miles from us) and I had hoped to take him in the under saddle classes. Now my goal is just that he gets better or at least comfortable.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 19679
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Monday, Dec 10, 2007 - 6:30 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

That is a start Elizabeth: a grade 2 to 3 right fore lameness that does not show obvious outward signs or react to flexion. I would next put a set of hoof testers on that foot and if there continues to be no localizing signs it is time to do nerve blocks.
DrO
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Jill Marks
Member
Username: efobryne

Post Number: 6
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Friday, Dec 14, 2007 - 10:34 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Well it turns out that I have been a bad horse mother.

The vet was out today and she was going to start doing nerve blocks until she discovered that his scratches have flared up -- badly. He has a lesion at the rear of his left fore that is really nasty but had been covered by his very dense wiry fur on his legs. I had noticed some other mild areas higher up on his legs, and was getting them cleared up but this one was really difficult to see until he was clipped down to the skin.

And that is the other bad horse mom thing -- although he shows the lameness on the right rein he is actually lame on the left side. I remember thinking after viewing Dr. O's article on localizing lameness that I was misreading the head bob. This is where never having attended Pony Club as a kid comes back to haunt you. Anyway the vet did say the difficulty in seeing it is partially due to the fact that he was moving quickly to go back to the sound foot.

Once his legs were all clipped right down it was evident that there was considerable build up of scar tissue (that's not the term the vet used -- it is not exactly keloid) showing this has been an ongoing problem for years.

The BO did comfort me by reminding me that I had thought about scratches at the beginning of all this, but then I dismissed it as being unable to cause him to be this off.

Anyway, the vet seemed very optimistic that this should be the answer. If not, then we will be back to nerve blocks and X rays.

In the meantime he is on antibiotics and daily washing and having his legs dried with a hair dryer. Then there is the application of an antibiotic ointment that really must sting.
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Cyndy
Member
Username: hpyhaulr

Post Number: 289
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Saturday, Dec 15, 2007 - 6:36 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Jill,
You kept asking questions and kept exploring options until you got an answer... that does not sound like bad horse mother to me! Sometimes these things can be elusive, but you got there! Best of luck in his speedy recovery. Keep us posted, please.
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LL
Member
Username: frances

Post Number: 555
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Saturday, Dec 15, 2007 - 8:09 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I agree with Cyndy - you've been a very GOOD horse mother. Skin problems are far from being the first things that come to mind when lameness presents (we're more inclined to concentrate on all the things that could be going on UNDER the skin), and it's hard to scrutinise every single inch of these rather large and hairy critters.

Here's hoping that scratches are indeed the answer!
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 19711
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Saturday, Dec 15, 2007 - 11:13 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I agree with the above remarks Jill: very good work. You have learned about localizing the leg and the value of a thorough exam, found the probable problem and on your way to fixing it. What more could be expected? Next time you will have the problem knocked out in minutes!
DrO
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Jill Marks
Member
Username: efobryne

Post Number: 7
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Saturday, Dec 15, 2007 - 6:40 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thank you very much everyone for your help. I have learned a lot about localizing lameness through this. I have learned the truth of the adage "No foot, no horse": even a small skin lesion less the than the size of a five cent piece, if it is in an vulnerable spot can cause a great deal of grief to a 17 H horse.

I have also learned that neurotic 1800 pound Percherons find that a small hand held hair dryer is an extremely menacing object!
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