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RE: [RC] Injecting hocks for mystery front end lameness!!!!! What? HELP!!!!!! - Linda Cowles

I have a friend with a 16h TB/Trak. 9 yo mare.  She kept 
being on and off lame in the left front, she insisted this 
was because the mare had been diagnosed with navicular in 
that foot.  However, no actual navicular degeneration shows 
up on the x-rays.  When the mare kept being off, I suggested 
that she call the vet and have the horses back and saddle fit 
checked.  Sure enough, the saddle did not fit and her back 
was very sore. 
...wide and sunk when the mare was being ridden.  I have ridden 
the mare for her and when doing so, concentrated on getting 
her to travel naturally as she was
high-headed-- and is ewe-necked as well as being atrophied 
along the top line as a result.  Well, vet said, the horse 
must be ridden collected all the time....  --- Claire Nystrom

Injecting this mare's hocks to "fix" atrophied back muscles? Riding her
collected? Claire, you are soooo right that riding a horse with severe back
atrophy is counter-productive... Trust your instincts, here. 

Most saddles won't fit this back conformation, and saddle fit is a
significant part of her problem. If this particular mare's head is up, it's
very likely she's in pain, & pain might explain the dull coat. Body work,
chiropractic &/or acupuncture should help. Sometimes horses end up traveling
like this when their toes are too long, too, and finding an expert to
evaluate hoof pictures makes sense too. Diagnosis isn't always easy.

I had an experience with a 4YO TB with back muscle atrophy that resulted
from riding the colt in a Full QH Bars roping saddle (narrow horse/very wide
saddle tree) combined with bad shoeing. After 45 days, the back pain began
to trigger bucking sessions that lasted for minutes after the rider was
unloaded (that's a symptom that the saddle might be part of the problem). 

When I was introduced to the horse, he was being worked hard in the round
pen to "get the bucks out". His neck was hollow, his head was up, his eye
was wide, and he was slightly off. He occasionally bucked viciously for
minutes at a time. "He's a mean one, a born bucker!" quipped his owner, a
weekend cowboy, proudly. "I may sell him as rodeo stock".

I stepped into the round pen & stopped the lathered colt. Ignoring the
trainer's warnings, I unsaddled the tall, skinny colt. He sighed, shook
hard, rubbed his head on me, smacked his lips and alternately lifted his
feet. As he gently rubbed his head on my arm and offered to suck my fingers,
I chuckled aloud that this mean rogue might attack when I turned my back on
him. I turned and he pressed his head against my back, still breathing hard.
He wearily followed me to the gate.

I immediately noticed his atrophied back muscles, so I spent 20 minutes
explaining saddle fit and the imbalance of his long toes & under run
heels... It didn't work. The trainer said the colt needed more training
because he had 'learned to evade being ridden'. After spending another $900
on training, the owner agreed to have Jamie Knox of JCK Equine Services in
Windsor Ca. try bodywork. 

After the first session, Jamie announced that the saddle was the worst
possible fit made worse by over-padding, his toes were much too long and his
heels badly under run. The horse was out chiropractically in several areas. 

After a lengthy session, he recommended that the gelding be trimmed in a
balance trim, turned out for at least a week, then ponied at a long steady
trot on fairly flat ground for 20 minutes every other day for a week,
increasing the time, distance, frequency and terrain as the his muscles
strengthened until he was ponied for an hour 4 or more times a week by the
end of 4 weeks. Jamie saw him again at 4 weeks, and asked that he get
another week or two of long trotting on hills with the new saddle (it fit)
before they rode him. Jamie had specified that the horse not be exposed to
hills until he was totally fit on the flat and explained how to evaluate
improvement in the horses muscle tone.

After a total of 6 weeks of ponying, the colt had a *totally* different top
line and soon became awesome riding horse.  No bucking. 

The average trainer try's to help a problem horse with training. The average
vet try's to help a problem horse using his medical training. The average
tack store owner try's to help a problem horse by changing the tack, and the
person at the feed store recommends supplements and tonics. The average body
worker try's to help a problem horse with bodywork, and the average hoof
care provider try's to help a problem horse starting with his feet....

A few service providers consistently look beyond their own set of tools to
recognize problems best fixed by others, but there is usually a little
something we see that we *can* fix, and we are driven to try. Too often the
problem we work on isn't *the* problem; it's a symptom of an underlying
problem. Fixing it may provide temporary relief. 

Diagnosis, identifying the root cause of our horse's problems isn't easy.
Saddle fit problems can trigger repeated suspensory problems, but so can
hoof imbalance and some chiropractic problems complicated by hard work.
Successful evaluation means questioning our experts and searching our
memories to give them as complete a picture as we can, because they aren't
always clairvoyant. We need to ask them to expand their thinking and
explanations so that we can be part of the team. Forums like this help us
share experiences, but learning about saddle fit, conditioning, movement
analysis and balance is important.

Good luck! 

Linda Cowles
Certified Hoof Care Provider


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[RC] Injecting hocks for mystery front end lameness!!!!! What? HELP!!!!!!, Claire Nystrom