Spotting Lameness: The Game Plan
— Read on horsenetwork.com/2018/10/spotting-lameness-game-plan/
Spotting Lameness: The Game Plan
Spotting Lameness: The Game Plan
— Read on horsenetwork.com/2018/10/spotting-lameness-game-plan/
Today Chance had swelling of his back right fetlock. He had a fever around 104 and didn’t eat his feed. His eyes were dull and he was lethargic. He wasn’t limping but was walking slower than normal (he usually runs to the paddock or back to the barn). I decided, due to the Lymphingitis flare up on his back right leg, I would give him a shot of 5 mls (or 5 cc) of Banamine and wrap his leg. Once the medication set in, I would bring him in to give him a bath (it was 80 degrees today). So, that is what I did. By the time he was back at the barn he was covered in sweat. I cold hosed him and drenched the wrap in cool water and let him roam around the barn.
Thankfully, the vet was able to meet me at her veterinary practice so that I could pick up Baytril and more Banamine. Since Chance just had Lyme Disease (and had finished his medication less than a week ago), we are not 100% if this is a Lyme reaction or something else. The plan is to administer 25 cc of Baytril either orally, in his feed, or via IV for 6 days and Banamine 10 mls (or a 1000 lbs) twice a day for 3 days. The vet suggested that I do 5 cc of Banamine if his fever remains between 101-103 degrees and 10 cc if his fever is 103 degrees or above. During this time I will begin Prevacox- one 1/4 of a tablet once a day. After 3 days, I will discontinue the Banamine and continue the Prevacox. If his fevers are not down in two days, I will continue the Baytril but start the doxycycline as it maybe a Lyme disease symptom.
While researching Lyme Disease, I found that many people do two+ months of doxycycline instead of 30 days to ensure the disease has been erraticated completely. However, since Chance had shown such improvement after 30 days, I decided to not do another month. Maybe I should have…
However, Chance had similar symptoms when we found a small laceration in the DDFT tendon of his back left hind- swelling, Lymphingitis, fever, lethargy, no appetite, etc. If he does have an issue with his tendon I will most likely do another round of Stem Cell treatments which proved to be helpful last time. Thankfully I stored his stem cells in a Stem Cell Bank (via Vet-Stem) and can easily have them shipped.
True North Equine Vets www.truenorthequinevets.com 540-364-9111
Genesis Farriers: Dave Giza www.genesisfarriers.com 571-921-5822
Ken Pankow www.horsedentistvirginia.com 540-675-3815
Full Circle Equine www.fullcircleequine.com 540-937-1754
Farriers Depot: (Farrier related supplies) www.farriersdepot.com 352-840-0106
StemVet (Stem cell acquisition and storage) www.vet-stem.com
SmartPak Equine Supplements www.smartpakequine.com
I had the opportunity to work with a “horse communicator” today. She was recommended to me by an equine vet who, after reading my blog, felt that I would be open to the idea, and introduced me to her via email. According to the vet, she often works with this particular equine communicator due to her ability to point out exactly where the horse’s issues are, allowing the vet to adjust/manipulate/treat the main issue.
I chatted with her at length a few days ago as she explained the process and we scheduled an appointment.
Today I gave her a call, as she explained, connecting remotely allows for the horse to be in his natural setting without the influence of an unknown person. That way the horse could be relaxed and the owner can observe, ask questions, and engage. So, that is what I did. She went onto explain that sometimes the horse needs energy work in order to open up to the process and that the horse must trust the process, her, and obviously, the owner.
I was asked to have questions ready to ask my horse, along with something I would like to tell him at the end of the session. (If you have been following this blog then you will know I had some difficulty narrowing down a couple of questions- I have a lot! 😉 ) She began connecting with Chance.
I will not be able to convey all the details of what was said, Chance’s reactions, or even mine…It is almost a blur… I wish I could.
I was asked to feel around Chance’s right forehead/eye area for a lump or bump. I did as I was asked and didn’t feel anything abnormal…but remembered he had a gash that was healing right above his right eye. She informed me that he had a “headache”. She continued to move over him and explained that his “energy” was “blocked” on his right side. This makes sense…Chance has a “swagger” at the walk- he pokes his butt to the side and has a twist on the back right leg (Chance’s swagger has gone up and down- it was worse when he had the tendon issues, resolved after stem cell injections, came back when he got EPM, went away ish, and came back with his Lyme). While she was working on his energy, I massaged Chance’s back, neck, hip, and shoulders. She went on to explain that Chance had some right shoulder pain. Thankfully, Chance allowed her to work on his jaw (he pretty much has TMJ), his head, his back, etc. The energy was “pouring out” even on the hind end which, if I recall correctly, is commonly seen on horses with head injuries.
This is where my one question came in…I wanted to know what happened to Chance when he came to my college. I didn’t give many details…I didn’t know many details but I always wondered what may have happened on Chance’s trip down to my college.
I had gone off to college in January and decided to have someone trailer Chance down (about 3 and a 1/2 hours) once I got settled and found a barn, etc. Two months later Chance was arrived at her new barn. Despite the cool March weather, he was covered in sweat and was visibly scared. I didn’t inquire too much since he was in one piece and I chalked up the sweating and fear to exactly that- fear and anxiety. However, as the months progressed, Chance began bucking and rearing while under saddle….this was really strange..When he had left home we were doing dressage and jumping and he was sound and calm. Once again, I chalked it up to being in a new place- a barn that hosted Friday night Bullbucking no less. I decided to switch to a different farm, one preferably without bulls, even though the show was awesome to go and see, and work with a trainer. Still the behaviors persisted and the episodes of lameness increased. The vet finally diagnosed Chance with arthritic changes in his back and suggested I no longer jump him. I decided that summer instead of bringing Chance home and have him endure another long trailer ride, to board him at my new vet’s farm. Chance had the summer to recuperate while under the care of an equine vet.
Anyways, after that summer, I decided to retire Chance for good. I would occasionally get home him to walk around, I still can and do today. But, that was the beginning of a chronic condition that was never given a diagnosis. Instead, Chance’s symptoms were treated as they came.
Back to my session with my very own horse whisperer..
Chance “showed” her what happened on his trip to college- a trailer wheel falling off the side of the road. His head hitting one side of the trailer and slamming the other side. The pain. The concussion. His neck and back becoming misaligned. His jaw coming out of position. His body compensating. He showed the decline of his once functioning body- starting with the hit on his head, to his jaw, and his neck. Down his neck and through his back towards his hips and down his legs. The wear and tear of his body. Chance stated that he is still angry with the person driving the trailer; he wasn’t ready to forgive. I have forgiven them. I have no doubt it was a mistake and that there was no ill intent. But, I am not the one feeling the pain that he is. I am not the one who went from a racehorse to a jumper to practicing dressage to retirement long before I should have. And like the “horse whisperer” said, she will “hold the forgiveness for him until he is ready.” I will do the same.
She spoke of his time on the racetrack. Chance was happy to hear that he was being remembered for who he once was, and will always be to me- a strong, beautiful and crazy talented 17.1 hand red-headed thoroughbred and not a “weak old man” as he put it. When asked what his name was during his time on the track, he said, “Hot Stuff”, which could be a nickname and not his actual race name.
At one point during Chance’s session he fell asleep; standing in an odd way- hind legs spread out. Suddenly, his body gave out and he caught himself from falling. This entire time his eyes were still closed! They remained closed for another minute after this. His body reacting to something, perhaps a shift in his energies, and all the while he was a a state of peace; trusting that nothing bad would happen to him.
The session lasted an hour and a half. Honestly, we could have continued because of all the “blockages” but decided to stop for the day and pick up again another day. I was told that the effects of the energy work or Reiki, would continued throughout the week and that he would be emotionally vulnerable. As the session wrapped up Chance apparently said that he was the lucky one because I found him all those years ago.
Energy Work and Reiki Resources
Head Trauma and Headaches in Horses
My old guy has always had issues with his cervical spine/neck. Throughout the years he has developed arthritis which has caused symptoms which mirror EPM such as; ataxia, difficulty bending, hind end weakness, difficulty going up hills, lethargy, difficulty balancing when foot is lifted, muscle atrophy, sore back…you get the picture.
When his symptoms first came on I had the vet test for EPM. The test was positive. I did my research and found out that about 50% of horses will test positive for EPM but only 1% show actual impairment from the virus. I went ahead and completed two rounds of EPM medication therapy and still his symptoms continued. So, I sought out another vet who practiced eastern and western medicine.
After some chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture she felt that his issues were actually due to the cervical spine and not EPM. The vet also showed me how, when looking at Chance straight on, one of his eyes was lower then the other- a classic sign of cervical and jaw issues. We continued with the chiropractic and acupuncture therapy and have continued for over a year and the change has been remarkable. Along with these therapies, we upped his feed, added supplements, began stretches and different exercises, and had him walking and running up and down hills whenever he was outside. The dentist has also been of great help by floating Chance’s teeth every few months instead of once a year. This helps with the alignment of his teeth because he tends to ware one side of his teeth down more then the other; ultimately straining his jaw and neck.
He has rebuilt the muscle on his hind end, put on around 100 lbs, and is able to do stretches while someone is holding his foot up. He runs when he is outside and is no longer on pain medications (except on the rare occasion).
Here is some useful information on a horse’s back and cervical spine.
Chance was not acting like himself near the end of the snow storm. He seemed lethargic and gloomy…his appetite was good but the light in his eyes was not as strong.
I called the vet and asked her to please come out. She came out that day and ran a CBC along with going some acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments. The vet also gave Chance B12 (or as our previous vet called “the old man shot”).
She contacted me after seeing Chance and informed me that she was diagnosing him with an ulcer and thinks that he may have either slipped on the snow and hurt (bruised) his hip or hurt it while rolling.
I asked about the diagnostics that lead to the ulcer diagnosis. She explained that with horses there are 7 “acupuncture points”. When they are all reactive 85% of the time the horse has a gastric ulcer. She also went on to explain that with the lethargy and the change in patterns due to the snow a gastric ulcer would be plausible. They are apparently common when there are changes in the horse’s routine and fairly easy to cure. She prescribed “Nux” (give 1 teaspoon until gone) and Ranitidine.
I am suppose to let her know if he stops eating or becomes more lethargic. She felt that he was not at risk for colic because he is eating well and on a high quality feed. Fingers crossed.
Resources on Gastric Ulcers and Prescribed Medications
The vet came out to give Chance and Lucky their fall shots and do some follow up acupuncture on Chance. The vet said that Chance has increased flexibility especially in his cervical spine and has gained weight and muscle mass!!!!!!
His feeding regiment is as follows:
He is out all day when it is cool and all night when it is hot during the day. So he has tons of green grass to eat. He walks constantly- up and down the hills- and runs around with Lucky. We also walk ground poles and do stretches and massage every time I come out to the barn.
We still need to continue upping his weight and muscle mass preferably before winter. Fingers crossed.
Chance had a chiropractic adjustment, acupuncture, and electro stimulation on his cervical spine. He actually fell asleep resting his head on someone’s shoulder while receiving the stim for 20 minutes.
I also spoke to the vet about Chance’s unrelenting scratches on his hind legs. She suggested mixing Vaseline and Betadine and applying it to the affected area, wrapping seren wrap around it, and then wrapping it with a standing wrap. After 12 hours, remove the wraps and clean area. – scratches not improving. Once scabs have all fallen off then he can begin an Antibiotic like Baytril.
Chance is still stiff on both sides of neck, although he can bend with better balance (when vet holds one of Chance’s front legs up while he bends to the opposite side). He also shows Improved lateral flexibility on right side. Right base dorsal secrum and d-v flexion improved.
Chance’s skin is having a “typical chestnut reaction” and the vet advices to discontinue transfer factor due to his immune system working too hard, and then use 1/2 of current dose. Start Tellurium 1 teaspoon a day for 5 days and then 1x a week to help with his skin.
Chance being lunged after many years of not being lunged due to a DDFT injury and possible EPM treatments. He is still stiff and needs to build up the muscle in his hind end thus why he is being lunged. In addition to his chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, stretches and massages, and all natural pain medication (MicroLactin), he is also doing physical therapy- walking over poles, walking serpentines, and walking up and down hills.
Chance is continuing to gain weight, although as I said in the previous post, he still needs to put on a good 50-75 lbs. As the days continue to get warmer, Chance’s arthritis seems to become more manageable for him; his stride is longer and he runs around (mostly after Lucky) more frequently.
Unfortunately, when the farrier came out about two weeks ago Chance was too stiff to get his back right shoe on. The farrier decided to come back out to try and re-shoe him and, during that time in between, Chance must have tweaked it…AGAIN!
While Chance did not have a shoe on his back right I kept it wrapped to provide some protection and also even out all of his hooves. However, when I arrived I noticed that Chance was significantly twisting his back right leg inward at the walk & it had some swelling. The swelling was not horrible but it was noticeable. I cold hosed his leg for about 45 minutes while I groomed him & gave him a dose of Equinox (pain medication) and Ulcer Guard. I put on his back leg wrap to help with reducing the swelling and provide some extra support. Chance did his neck stretches effortlessly and was baring weight on his back hind.
But as I was grooming him I noticed, on the left side his chest, he had patches of hair loss and dandruff. The area did not look red or inflamed, nor did it seem itchy or painful. So I continued grooming him and decided to put a call into the vet to come and check his leg and the hair loss.
Of course, I turned to Google to try and find out what exactly could be the cause of the patches of hair loss.
According to a handful of sources, there are a few possibilities for hair loss- mites or Lice, a vitamin deficiency, rain rot or crud, or even just his natural shedding tendency. A skin scrape would help to confirm what may be the cause.
As for the swelling of Chance’s back right leg, I decided to call our previous vet who collected and injected Chance’s DDFT with stem cells to heal the hole in his tendon. We have some stem cells left over and I wanted to see if injecting his leg again would be of any benefit. I also would like to get an ultrasound recheck to ensure that there is not another injury to his DDFT tendon sheath again.
The twisting of his back hind leg is worrisome as well.
Everything I have read about EPM states that horses can have a relapse in symptoms after treatment is complete. My concern is that the twisting are due to the neurological symptoms coming back since Chance’s EPM treatment has been finished for a little over two weeks….
Our current vet believes that Chance’s ataxia and twisting is not due to EPM but his cervical spine instead. Could the twisting be worse due to the swelling of his hind leg? Or is the swelling and the twisting two separate issues all together?
Two days ago Chance’s vet came out to do a follow up and to give him and Luck their Spring shots.
Chance got some chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture as well. The vet stated that Chance was showing improvements in his Cervical (neck) flexibility and still had some tightness on his hind-end. She did one new stretch with him which entailed her lifting his front leg while her assistant had him bend his neck to the opposite side. He was able to do it on both sides while remaining balanced!!!! Where as before he could barely do cervical stretch with all four legs on the ground!
The vet said that Chance has gained weight and could use another 50-75lbs. She asked if he is finishing his dinner (4q twice a day) to which I answered yes. She suggested upping his feed to another quart twice a day totaling 5 quarts twice a day.
Chance’s feed schedule now includes the following:
AM: 5 q of Safe Choice Senior Feed by Nutrina, Transfer Factor (immune system booster), MicroLactin (for pain and inflammation). Hay Alfalfa mix, and 2q of Hay Stretcher
PM: 5 q of SCSF, SmartPak (Senior Flex supplement, immune system enhancer), Hay/alfalfa mix, and 2 q of Hay Stretcher.
Lucky got his first round of shots today and he was so well behaved! He stood there calmly and put his head under my arm while he got his shots.
The vet also took a look at Luck’s teeth.
There are four ways to age an equine by his teeth:
Well, Luck still has two baby teeth which do not seem to have adult teeth behind them that would ordinarily push out the baby teeth. So there goes option 1.
His teeth no longer have cups on them and are completely smooth which indicates he is around age 10/11.
I, along with Luck’s most recent owner, thought he was about 5 years old. However, his teeth seem to tell a different story. I’m wondering if the fact that Luck still has two of his baby teeth could be the reason for the cups prematurely disappearing? Or if he really is 10/11 years old….guess it’s time for a dental appointment.
I pray that gentle hands may guide my feet; I ask for kind commands from voices sweet; At night a stable warm with scented hay, Where, safe from every harm, I’ll sleep til day. -Author Unknown.
Today I met with a “new” vet, Vet7, who was Chance’s very first vet over 15 years ago, when he was vetted at purchase. She came out to do a chiropractic and acupuncture consultation, along with a general check-up. Vet7, while she has a more holistic approach to vetrinary medicinw, she also practices Western medicine.
Vet7 looked at Chance from head to hoof and took a thorough medical history, and ran some tests. She mostly did some balancing and acupressure type diagnostics, and declared that while Chance may have had EPM, she felt that his ataxia was due to his cervical spine….
She explained her reasoning:
1. EPM diagnostics are sub par at best. Even the spinal fluid testing. And, like I previously posted, about 50% of horses in the USA are EPM positive while only 1% are symptomatic.
2. Vet7 did a stretch test with Chance’s neck- to the left, while he compensated by bending at the top instead of the bottom, he showed little flexibility and increased ataxia while doing so. The right side bend was easier. Typically, horses with Cervical issues have issues with the hind-end on the opposite side. Chance has issues with his right leg.
3. Typically horses with EPM respond to treatment. Chance is on his second round of EPM treatment and while his symptoms have had moments where they are less noticeable, there are other moments when his symptoms are prominent; mostly at times of stress. (ie: trailering, new donkey friends, etc).
4. Vet7 put a needle in one of the points in Chance’s tail. He responded immediately showing that he has feeling and strength in his tail, which is something most EPM horses do not exhibit. Typically, an EPM horse will have weakness in his tail, and a times their tail is too weak to lift when they goto the bathroom resulting in having dried manure along their backside.
Vet7 made some adjustments and stuck Chance with a handful of needles. At one point he fell asleep with his head in my arms. She proceeded to inject different points along his cervical spine and hips with B-12. She taught me some stretches and massage techniques, exercises he and I could do together to increase his hind-end and neck muscles, and gave me some weight gaining instructions.
Chance will have Rice Bran added to his feed beginning with 1 cup for a week and slowly increasing to 2 cups. This will aid in getting his weight up. Apparently, horses are able to tolerate up to 30% fat in their daily diets.
She also suggested adding a Probiotic to increase his Immune system since the gut is the control center. There were other supplements that she felt maybe helpful as well, Cervical Formula, to help with his neck flexibility and overall health.
As for the exercises, in conjunction with turning him out daily, he and I will do stretches to help increase his neck flexion and balance, and I will hand walk him. We will walk on flat land, up and down small hills, and do serpentines. Eventually, increasing to twice a day and adding ground poles and lunging. This will help to develop the muscles, increase his flexion, decrease the ataxia, and aid in his overall health.
Vet7 will come back out in two weeks to see how he is doing…I’m hoping that we have finally found some answers and are closer to a solution.
This cold weather does a number on my joints, so I can only imagine what it must do to my old and arthritic horse. The last few days, Chance has been inside due to the single digit temperature outside, the strong winds, and the ice and snow. (He used to “stock-up” when left inside, even for only one day, and now he no longer has this reaction). The stall rest and hand walking will probably do him some good anyways!
Chance has always had Cervical Spine issues and over the years, you can feel the “knots” (for lack of a better word) on his neck. Due to that, and his EPM, I decided to contact a massage therapist, chiropractor, and acupuncturist to come and work their magic on Chance! Basically, a full day at the spa:).
I contacted one vet that incorporates run of the mill equine healthcare with chiropractic and acupuncture work, along with holistic medicine as well. One review stated that she looked at/worked with the “whole horse” in order to assess, diagnose, and treat. Interestingly, I believe that this vet used to work on Chance about 10-12 years ago when he lived in Lorton, VA. I sent her an email and I hope she has some availability.
I also found an equine massage therapist, who was certified through Equissage, and I will be contacting her tomorrow.
And, I have found Chance a dentist, and once again, he is Chance’s previous dentist from over a decade ago!
The equine world is a small one- at least in Virginia!
Vet3 came out to see Chance. She has worked with Chance for about 10 years, doing adjustments and acupuncture.
Chance has always had issues with his back and neck.
Vet3 typically follows the below regiment:
UPSIS- RSP- LAS- R. front shoulder- PL 6- RL 4 & 5- LT 9 & 13- RT 10, 11, & 15- BL 10, 11, 13, 17, 21, 26- SI 1, 3, 9, 11- TH 1, 14- LI 1, 14, 15- LU 11
Vet3 did some adjustments and acupuncture and Chance did well. She then referred me to the “God of anything leg related”, Vet4.
One day I received a call that I needed to come out and see Chance because he wasn’t doing well and, according to Vet1, he needed to be put down. I quickly canceled my appointments and got on the road. The 4 hour drive was excruciating…once we finally arrived, my heart broke.
My old guy was skin and bones. His back right leg was swollen and he wasn’t able to bare weight on it. His eyes were dull. He could barely walk, and when he did, he wouldn’t put any weight on the right hind. There were even times when he would do this “neurologic dance” (coined by the farm’s owner and C’s other mom) where he would lift up his back right leg and hop!
But when he saw me pull up, he whinnied. He was excited to see me. He ate the pureed carrots but refused the apple puree (only my mom would make this for him). He wasn’t ready to die.
I called the vet who said that Chance should be put down to see what his thoughts were.
Me: What do you think is going on with C?
Vet1: I think he is ready to be put down.
Me: Because of what?
Me: Okay, well, what is the cause of the Lymphangitis? Did you run any diagnostics?
Me: I would like to manage his pain and run a few tests before making that decision. (I reviewed the research that I had done and asked where to go from there.) Could it be EPM?
Vet1: “It’s not EPM”
Me: How about Cushings? Or Laminitis? Lymes?
Vet1: Nope. Just old age.
Me: The journals I read said that some of the symptoms…(I was cut off)
Vet1: “I don’t care what journals you read! It’s a bunch of…”
Me: One was from VA Tech actually…
Well, that was that! Vet1 did not completely lack compassion but he was more “old school” I guess one could say. He was well respected in the horse world and up until this point, he did the job I needed. But I will say I was disheartened by our conversation.
I decided to contact the other vets that I had worked with in the past, who also knew Chance, and get second, third, fourth opinions.