Follow up to You can’t always get what you want
So it’s not an abscess.
We are very fortunate that Nautica’s barn has an amazing farrier who comes to work on horses every week. That means issues like pulled shoes, loose nails, and suddenly sore tosies can all usually be examined within the time frame of six days or less!
So the verdict:
We began by doing the usual hoof test. Tested him all around–not sore anywhere.
We tried lunging. We started off tracking to the right since this had been his worse direction: Sound walking… obviously head-bobbing lame at the trot. He was also now putting on a show as if he had never lunged before in his life. Nautica wasn’t as noticeably lame at the explosive-bolt forward maneuver as he was at the trot.
To the left he was strange; sound for three or four trot strides, then vaguely lame for three or four more. He would seem to work out of it, but then revert right back.
Despite having a bachelor’s degree in equine science and spending quite a few hours studying various unsoundnesses in horses, I will be the first to admit I’m pretty much useless when it comes to finding the cause or exact location. Thank God I’m not gunning for vet school. That dream died a long time ago with the discovery of my hatred of Organic Chemistry. It was, however, comforting when our farrier said she was also having difficulty pinpointing Nautica’s exact problem.
We believe we narrowed it down to the left side, although whether it is left front or left hind is a toss-up, and it’s also quite possible it could be both hind as well. If it were in the hind end we determined it was likely further up the leg in the hock joint. We thought we saw where Nautica was doing a new, funky swinging-out maneuver with his hind legs at the trot. He’s sneaky though, and we weren’t entirely sure. We also know that his right hind is still very weak. Because of that, he could possibly be overloading the left side and irritating the joint. He’ll be thirteen this year and arthritis isn’t entirely unlikely. However, I don’t think arthritis would hit all at once as this did.
If it was in the front end, we decided it would definitely be in the hoof. Last year, during our now-annual unsoundness ordeal, Nautica had shown some medial heel discomfort during a pain block. It was very vague, but the injection treatments seemed to help. Nothing on x-rays at that time.
Knowing this, we went ahead and tried a new shoeing approach on just the left front. Nautica is now sporting a bar shoe with some cushioning on the medial heel. This is a temporary fix, but we will know in a few days if this will help! If we don’t see any improvement by Monday or Tuesday then we will know more about if the pain is in Nautica’s hind end or further up in the leg. We also have radiographs scheduled for next week, just to cover all the bases.
I’m really hoping it’s an easy fix. With this horse, in particular, I’m one of those horse moms. You know, the ones to always assume the worse. When Nautica turns up vaguely lame, I’m already considering words like “laminitis” and “suspensory” without any basis or evidence. I’m very lucky to have (and have always had) a barn team that is going to work with me to figure these things out.