The Lame Horse Chronicles: Jingle



Today I pulled Jingle's shoes, and it was a sad moment indeed.

Jingle has a mystery lameness and to put it plainly, it sucks.

Last summer (2013) Jingle came up slightly lame, I gave him around 2 weeks off and when he still wasn't better I called a vet out. The vet arrived around week 3 and he was noticeably better. The vet said to begin riding and to see what happens - Jingle became sound. Three months after this, Jingle was sound, and I left him turned out for 8 months to go to the states.

The scene of the lameness...

Fast Forward to July (2014) when I returned back home and to him. I started him out pretty slow, but by mid-August we were back to doing some trail riding in the hills and 3-4 30 minute works in the arena a week. He felt good. Towards the end of September I entered him in a competitive 25 mile trail race. I felt like he wasn't 100% in shape, but good enough to go at it at a slow pace. Halfway through the race, at the vet check, he came up head-bobbing lame. Whereas 10 minutes previous, he hadn't felt sore at all. I pulled him from the race, and the vet offered to block his front feet for me. He first exhibited front right lameness, after the heel block, he then exhibited front left lameness, and after blocking the left, he seemed better - but still lame.

Lame horse evening after the race

We came home and Jingle remained lame, probably at a 5 out of 10 (10 being terrible). We had X-rays done, the X-rays seemed clean, slight irregular spots in his front navicular bones - but what my vet called average wear and tear from age. Jingle is coming 10 years old this year. We blocked the coffin joint, and he went noticeably sound, and so we decided to inject both front coffin joints.





I gave Jingle two weeks off and then attempted to ride him, he was still as lame as he had ever been on his front left. Under vet advisement I gave him another two weeks off, and brought him back at a lunge, he was still lame. We had the vet out again around the 5 week mark from the coffin joint injection. Jingle was noticeably better, but still a 1 or a 2 on the lameness scale.

My vet at first suspected some slight arthritis, since the X-rays were so clean, but is now suspecting a soft tissue injury. His reasoning behind this is that Jingle was never terribly lame, and over time, with rest and just being turned out, is seeming to get better. The pattern of lameness, bad-okay-better, over the years is also leading him to this conclusion. Annoyingly for me, he of course cannot pinpoint exactly what is going on in Jingle's front left, but all signs lead us to believe that something is going on.. that isn't very good.

My vet has recommended I continue to give Jingle off until february. In February, I should start slow and see how he is, if and when he goes lame again, my vet suggested perhaps trying a wedge shoe. From there, if he goes lame again, we would think about Navicular Bursa injections. My vet said that with the majority of horses he has seen with this type of patterned lameness, once you begin to inject the Navicular Bursa, it is only a band-aid effect. Eventually, you will be injecting so frequently, that the lameness will catch up to you and win. At that point, obviously treatment would turn to making sure he was comfortable in retirement, out in a pasture.

Trying to get back to this, taken this summer & one of my favourite shots of us
By the lovely Sarah Mckenzie

So here I am, with a lame horse that I suspect might be entering the world of semi-retirmenet. Jingle was always "just" a trail horse. I use quotation marks because he was never just anything in my world. He was brimming with potential, but hard to ride, and even harder to figure out how to ride. Unfortunately for both of us, the way that life worked, I only really got two summers and a solid year of riding him. His potential fell to the way-side, and that is something that will forever frustrate, and haunt me. However, despite all that, and not knowing what the future holds (perhaps a complete turn-around!), in that short time span of riding, and having known, ridden and loved him since he was 6 years old, he has taught me more than anyone or anything - in riding, and in life, so for him to live happily the rest of his days - semi-retirement, retirement, or otherwise - that's all I really do need.

It would be nice to ride my horse though... sigh.

Do any of you have a history of lameness with your horses similar to my own? Let me know what you did and what happened!! Always up for ideas for treatment!

Comments

  1. Mysterious soft tissue lameness... It's the worst. I've had tremendous luck with cold lasers and tailoring their diet for immune system & protein filled goodness, but it's possible I've just been lucky.

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    1. Interesting... those are things I will definitely look into. Thanks for the comment!

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  2. The on again, off again lameness is probably one of the most difficult things in horses. I've never dealt with serious soft tissue injuries, but my best advice is to consult with knowledgeable vets/farriers, follow their recommendations and try not to worry too terribly much about the future. Because in the end, another day with your horse a is a good one, even if you're not doing exactly what you'd planned :-)

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    1. Good advice - something i'm definitely attempting to try right now! :)

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  3. Have you considered barefoot? Based on experiences I've had, it can make a huge difference for horses that have been consistently lame shod. That said, I highly recommend doing your research. Barefoot is definitely a whole lifestyle kind of commitment, but I have friends who have rehabbed horses three legged lame, consistently abscessing, and a whole host of other problems with good barefoot care.

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    1. Jingle's shoes are currently pulled but I know that's not exactly "barefoot", he's always lived life with shoes both on and off and has strong feet both ways so i've never really considered barefoot trimming but perhaps its something to look into.

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  4. I've been there. It's so hard. I was given a navicular diagnosis even with clean xrays and my pony was completely sound after slowly transitioning to barefoot (which took a lllloooonnggg time on his sad crumbly TB hooves). My current horse is having some weird issues. I just injected his fetlocks and am hoping for the best. Fingers crossed for Jingle being sound soon!

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    1. Good luck with your current horse! I feel your pain - fingers crossed for you as well.

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  5. Urgh. I can only imagine how frustrating and disheartening this all must be. I haven't dealt with a huge amount of soft-tissue injuries (or navicular) so I'm not much help. I will cross my fingers for you, though!

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