Suddenly Lame Horse

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by Avalancheé, Feb 6, 2019.

  1. Avalancheé

    Avalancheé Registered

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    I went to feed my horse and I noticed she walked kind of funny when coming to eat her grain. She didn’t walk very far, like a couple of feet, so I thought maybe she was just loopy and tried to scramble over to her food. I was a little concerned but waited for her to finish her grain until I pulled her out to check. I filled up her hay bag and hung it up. As she was walking towards it (it’s all the way by the gate), she seemed to walk perfectly normal with big long strides. So I was assured that nothing was wrong, but then I saw her walking really carefully. I thought maybe it was because it was kind of icy, but as she walked into her shelter she looked like she struggled a bit. I caught her, brought her out, walked her around the arena, and she seemed fine. No tripping, no head bobbing, didn’t resist leading. Then I let her loose in the arena and she looked a little off. I stopped her, tried to pick up her foot and see if there was anything in it, and she just wouldn’t pick it up. She resisted a lot. She’d pick it up lightly, but not bend her knee. I thought she was being bratty (she normally is sometimes) so I started tapping her foot with the hoof pick or softly squeezing her chestnut, but she was persistent. Usually the tapping is all I need. Then I heard her try to bite me. While she didn’t make contact, I heard her open her mouth and snap at me. I know she only does stuff like that when she’s hurting, so then I started getting really worried. When she finally picked up her foot, I cleaned it and took a look as quickly as possible. Nothing. Put her foot down and started to feel around her leg for any heat, lumps, pain responses. As I ran my hand around her legs, she proceeded to snap at me 3 more times. I’m surprised she didn’t actually bite me. I was confused at first because I didn’t squeeze her leg or anything, I just felt along her leg. It must’ve meant she was really sensitive or hurting somewhere. I didn’t feel any abnormal heat or abnormal lumps. Also felt for any heat in her hooves, nothing. I could feel her bones just fine and no obvious signs of injury.

    I’m really puzzled because she was walking perfectly fine at first, then looked a little lame, then went super lame after checking her out.

    I’ve heard of horses faking lameness but I don’t think my horse ever would. Plus the biting? I don’t know.

    It could be an abcess as she’s had them before a few times in the past years and usually go away after a while. Farrier says her feet are great and healthy. But the increased sensitivity and her snapping seemed really odd. The only other time she’s done that is when she had ulcers, but she never had a problem with having her legs touched. Usually when she’s got an abcess, she doesn’t have an attitude like that when being handled.

    She’s also done something funky with her hind leg in the pasture causing it to flare up for a few days before. I was thinking maybe she might have done that again but with the front leg?

    She’s not with other horses so she couldn’t have been kicked or something.

    I wish I had Bute on hand, I’ll probably get some tomorrow to see if it helps her.

    I’m not sure if I’m just worrying too much, but I want to know if anyone else’s horse has been like this before. Money is super tight as we’ve been hit with brain surgery bills and my car’s axel just broke. This is really unfortunate.

    Thanks for any tips or advice.
     
  2. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    Do not give bute for an abcess. Youprobably have a gravel working it's way from the hoof wall towards softer inner tissue. Soak her hoof in epsom salts.

    The opposite one from the one she refuses to lift is the one that hurts. If she DID lift the one you wanted up, all her weight would go on the opposite hoof. Not wanting to lift one leg can be a sign the opposite one is painful.

    How old is the horse? May be a little arthiritic in his/her joints and the cold makes the joints stiff and painful.
     
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  3. Faster Horses

    Faster Horses Senior Member

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    Assuming you are in a similar freeze/thaw cycle as most of the US--any chance she has thrush?

    If you can, pick up a hoof, clean it as best as possible, and take a picture directly of the bottom.
     
  4. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    She may have bruises on her leg from getting caught in a fence or wall or on something in the pasture or paddock. If it just happened it might not be swollen up yet, though some of these bruises and impacts don't actually swell up much at all if any.

    Your descriptions ('walked kind of funny,' 'struggling a bit,' 'walking really carefully,' 'a little off,' make it very difficult to picture more specifically what she is doing. If you have a video of the moments when she's moving oddly, that would help.

    You were advised to soak her foot. I would not as the vets I have worked with for many years do not advise soaking an abscess or a gravel. It does not help and may help an infection to spread.

    If you are concerned about the horse walking strangely, the best thing is to have the vet out.

     
  5. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    @slc, quit spreading that garbage about not soaking abcesses.

    Hoof Abscesses: Tips for Treatment and Prevention

    University Vets, you know, ones that we Professionals use all the time, suggest to first soak an abcess and to never dig ot out. You have no credentials Professionally. Stop telling people warm water an epsom salts does no good. It soothes the pain and helps the blood to flow to the abcess and pop it.
    SAME as your doctor tells YOU to do for an abcess on your body. Stop spreading disinformation~!!

    If your Vet told you not to soak an abcess, he's an idiot.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
  6. Rhythm 'n Blues

    Rhythm 'n Blues Senior Member

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    I assume abscess until proven otherwise. :)
     
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  7. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    It's not one vet. It's many vets over decades. Here, you're the one spreading disinformation. You've learned some things, manes, but the trouble is that there was a point at which you decided nothing of any worth ever could be added to that knowledge. But in fact I'm old too and I have seen lots of improvements come along and have made some changes from what I was taught - for the better. It it works better, it is worth consideration.

    And this works better.

    An Epsom salts pack IS used, but it's a gel pad/pack so that dirt and contamination does not get into the draining wound via the soaking water, which is invariably contaminated - it's unavoidable. Even if you scrub the foot like mad before you soak it.

    I know, because I've done it.

    The foot is not soaked. We've been doing this for DECADES. With far, far better results than soaking.

    I USED TO soak abscesses, lol, when I was a kid! But as time goes on better methods are found. This gets better results and much faster.

    Repeat: a gel empsom salts pad IS used. This pad is cotton, it's impregnated with epsom, and when slightly moistened it forms a much better dressing for an abscess.

    We do clean the hoof as much as possible.

    If necessary ragged tissue on the frog is trimmed.

    Then the foot is dried.

    The Epsom salt pack/pad applied (slightly moistened).

    Then some cotton padding to press the gel pad tightly against the sole of the foot.

    Bandaging is applied, VERY carefully to not go up over the coronary band or constrict the flesh of the heels.

    Then a 'boot' is made of duct tape with tape ends cut to wrap up over the hoof. The sole of the foot is enclosed.

    The horse is kept out of mud and wet conditions.

    The abscess resolves much faster and drains much sooner. Where the abscess was, there is a much smaller cavity than if the hoof is soaked.

    The foot drains much faster, it heals much faster, and the results are much better.

    Why did I change from soaking the foot?

    Because 27 years ago, I bought a horse with a HUGE cavity in his foot which was visible on xray(to be clear, there was no open tract to the outside, and this cavity was not visible without xray).

    This was due to an abscess. From this is was clear to me that there was a better way.

    Yes, unfortunately some abscesses do need to be opened or a lot of tissue inside the hoof will be destroyed before the infection breaks out. Fortunately, only a few abscesses need this, but this dressing works very well for them too.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
  8. Avalancheé

    Avalancheé Registered

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    She’s around late teens. Would the pain from the cold make it this sudden? It’s been colder before and I’ve never seen any issues. I don’t know for sure if she has arthritis but she is given a joint supplement. She’s only ridden for 15-20 minutes about twice a week. Mostly just walk. I will check the other leg out too, however she seemed to be really lame on that leg she picked up. It wasn’t pretty and fought against me. After picking it up, she went pretty much dead lame with the head lifting and short quick stride.
     
  9. Avalancheé

    Avalancheé Registered

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    She’s had pretty bad thrush before when I first got her, like the really deep sensitive clefts, but she was never THIS lame before. I hope the thrush hasn’t come back. It hasn’t been an issue since. I will try to get a picture if I remember to grab my phone before going out.
     
  10. LoveTrail

    LoveTrail Senior Member

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    The one time I soaked it took about three weeks for the abscess to clear up. All the other times I didn't soak, just wrapped with the green epsom salt gel it took less than a week to clear up. All the same horse. Everything else was the same in treatment including PEMF, laser and the abscess drained. So for at least this horse I won't soak.

    All my others had abscess in the back feet so wasn't aware there was an issue until the farrier found it. Those were years ago when I couldn't tell when a horse was off in the back.
     

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