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Discussion on Intermittent hind limb lameness at walk

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Cecily Clark
New Member
Username: eastwest

Post Number: 1
Registered: 11-2008
Posted on Monday, Nov 17, 2008 - 9:57 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I am in need of serious help with my 7 year old Irish Sporthorse gelding. Following is WAY too much information, but I am desperate for help at this point.
A little history: We bought him 1 1/2 years ago from a trainer in Carmel Valley, CA. He had gone Preliminary successfuly in eventing once before, shown up to first level dressage. We had him fully vetted and he was sound (1 minus out of 5 on RF on small cirlce on pavement). Radiographs showed some mild pedal osteitis, some very mild changes on hocks, and an OCD lesion on Left stifle. X-rays were reviewed by prepurchasing vet (Steinbeck equine in Salinas, CA); personal vet (Ann Gillis in Santa Rosa, CA); Dr. Larry Galupo at UC Davis; and radiologist at UC Davis. All confirmed the OCD lesion in LH, no one concerned with anything else on radiographs.
Once we had him home we had him in full dressage (2nd level) and jumping (3'6") work. He had a few bonks in pasture so some time off for a swollen right front, no lameness. When coming back to work at canter he colicked twice, the second time needing a trip up to Davis as the banamine was not holding him. Gastric scoping showed pretty moderate gastric ulcers, and he was treated numerous times with gastroguard for them. Upon last recheck they were cleared (about 4 months ago). The colic and the ulcers told us that he is a very stoic horse, as he is the LAST horse in the barn we suspected to have ulcers, and he barely showed us how uncomfortable he was when colicking.
After the ulcers and the time off for the bonks he was back to full work by May. We moved facilities in June where he moved from a flat pasture to one on a hill. He also started eating Oat/wheat hay at this time. He has always had a pretty pony-ish walk, but by July he started having brief moments in the walk where he would go completely dead lame on his right hind, then walk out of it. Towards September I could start to feel it in the right canter at moments, like he was cantering up hill, but I could push him out of it easily and he would feel fine. He would seem to do it more on jumping days during walk breaks, on the hard ground either before and/or after work, and after standing in the cross-ties for 20 minutes or more. It seems as though he does it less when he is "put together". He is sound in the trot, and working very well. People think I am crazy because he is going so well in all of his work.
Vet came out, agreed that he is sound in the trot, did not think that he was locking his stifle at all, just dead lame for a few steps in the walk, then completely fine. Vet did flexions, and they were very slight for rear limb, negative for front limb. We did a bute trial at 2 grams twice daily for a few days. Thought he felt better, but then when he came off the bute he still felt better, then it came back maybe a few days later. He went up to UC Davis at the end of September, and they felt that he was lame consistently on his right hind in both hard and soft ground. His right rear flexion was mild, his left rear flexion was VERY positive, which was interesting as this was the first time he was positive there. He did NOT do his very lame steps at all during the visit at the walk. I could not see the lameness that they were picking out on the right hind, but I am no expert (though I think I am pretty darn picky and can usually tell when there is a problem). They felt they blocked the lameness out to his hock. They took some new hock xrays, as well as went over the ones taken in July, and felt there were no changes since then, but still felt that the lameness could be attributed to his hocks, even though there is nothing significant on xrays. They recommended hock injections, which were done a week and a half after, on October 10. After a week of rest after the injections, he had one ride, and he felt EXACTLY the same: Still lame steps at the walk intermittently, still felt great at all other gaits, except for the right canter at times. UCD said to give him 3 weeks of rest to give the steroids time to work. I have been walking him bareback on both hard and soft ground since then, and he still does it at least 2-4 times during a 30 minute walk. Since I am bareback, I can also feel his back tighten up when he does it. At the beginning of October he moved off the hill and in to a smaller mostly flat pasture with one other horse. He is on monthly legend, adaquan, and an oral joint supplement. He is on grass and wheat hay, alfalfa pellets, TDI senior, gleam and gain, and neigh lox.
I am at a loss with what to do with him now. I feel that the hocks are not the issue, and as much as I completely LOVE and trust the vets at UCD, I don't really feel that they are listening to me, and I feel that maybe they are picking out a very minute and unrelated lameness in his right hind hock. My vet at home never picked this up, and she is the most picky and conservative vet in our area. I am reluctant to take him back to UCD, as they said they will want to nuke scan him, and I have seen too many nuke-scans just confuse the issue, and send you chasing after ghosts. This lameness is so weird and intermittent, but so pronounced when he does it. This horse means so much to me, and I just don't want to make it worse by ignoring it. I don't have the money to go chasing every last thing down, and I just want someone knowledgeable who will listen to my input, as I am the one who spends day in and day out with this horse.
Please help!!!!
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Username: dro

Post Number: 21767
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Tuesday, Nov 18, 2008 - 7:31 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Cecilly,
We should note at the onset that some horses have a uneven walk though not lame. That said the most likely cause for a transient bout of short term lameness in a hind limb would be either stifle lock or a muscle spasm. We had a problem we had with out TB stallion when he was in dressage training. We would suddenly become quite short on the L hind leg. Palpation during the episode showed a very tight and sensitive semimemebranosus (inside back of the thigh). These episodes would last seconds to minutes but never a hour. This was back before we knew much about energy usage problems in equine muscle and I have long wondered if a high fat diet would have prevented this. Pulling a pre and post exercise muscle enzyme profile might help clarify muscle problems.

An interesting question is whether what UCD is seeing is the same problem in milder form or possibly a different problem on top of the intermittent one.
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