Having a show horse is like 100 hobbies in one. One of them? Fishing. Not for actual fish of course, but for a lameness diagnosis… because when your horse is one hot mess like mine there isn’t always a clear answer.
We headed to the vet on Friday afternoon with the goal of getting an ultrasound to diagnosis a suspensory and some x-rays to see if he has kissing spines or not. I took away a lot more information than I had before, but nothing definitive as to why he’s been not quite right.
First the vet jogged and flexed Simon on the concrete. She was surprised that he was more lame on the concrete than he was at home, which is not typical of a soft tissue injury. Then we headed to do the ultrasound, which was largely inconclusive. He has a few abnormalities compared to other horses, but they were even in both legs. Still, he palpates sore to the suspensory area, but we couldn’t tell more without a MRI.
Next after the ultrasound, we x-rayed his back to see if kissing spines was causing the issue. Again, his spine is bit weird. A few vertebrae are close, and there’s one that looks atypical but nothing that my vet looked at and definitely thought “Oh yes, kissing spines for sure.”
With more information but no answers, I started worrying about the suspensory again. I decided to have his upper suspensory blocked on both hind legs to see if he improved me. My vet warned me that since he was so slightly lame, it was often very hard to determine if a block helps. We blocked him, and he improved slightly to the right but stayed the same to the left. To continue to make matters muddy, just as hock injections can help ease the pain of an upper suspensory by traveling down, a nerve block on an upper suspensory can ease joint pain in the hocks by traveling up… so it was pretty much a waste of money. I needed to see though, and needed to rule out as much as possible.
So where does that leave us?
- Simon does not have a lesion (tear) on his suspensory. If there is anything going on, it’s likely micro tears where the suspensory meets the bone. This often causes more bone pain than soft tissue pain, and if I continue to ride him while we trouble shoot the lameness I won’t be killing my horse since there’s no acute injury or lesion.
- Simon’s back hurts. We don’t know if it’s from the slightly atypical conformation or because he’s compensating for hind end pain.
- Simon’s right hind hock is UGLY. It’s fusing, but not fully fused. Most of the joint space is gone, but there are gaps which can cause him pain and it’s very difficult for joint injections to reach these gaps.
- Simon’s left hock is causing him pain as well.
I wasn’t kidding when I told y’all he was a hot mess.
What I decided on was to go ahead and inject his hocks again on Friday. I know they will help his pain during the fusing process, and to me that’s money always well spent. I’m also going to treat his sore back with some anti-inflammatory/pain killer back meds my vet mixes up at the clinic. Going to hold off injecting his back at this time, because I would prefer to try and pin-point the problem.
In a week, I will start lightly hacking him and see if he’s feeling better. Hopefully these injections and back meds get him feeling good, and that feeling lasts. If several weeks go by and he starts to feel iffy again, it’s likely he has something going on with his suspensory. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
At first, I was pretty upset. Spent a lot of money and I still didn’t exactly know why Simon wasn’t 100%. Then I thought about it more, and realized that it could be a lot worse. Since he doesn’t have a lesion on the suspensory, I’m not looking at a year of time off or anything like that. We may not be out of the woods, but we’re on the right track to getting him right and I’ll just take it one day at a time.
P.S. I obviously changed the layout of the site a lot. Still working on it, but if you have any feedback (things that are not working for you or things you like) I’m all ears!