Mystery lameness everywhere
Updated: Aug 9, 2020
2020 Hasn't been easy on anyone it seems. I joke about Mercury being in retrograde but recently we had a week where it truly did seem like every horse went lame, injured themselves, and we even had one with a swollen shut eye from a bug sting (which we quickly resolved with a talk to the vet and some steroids) One of these unfortunate souls, was my client and friend's horse, Willow. Willow was kind of a mystery since my friend adopted her from a now defunct rescue. However, she's always been pretty healthy except for one stray impaction colic...knock on wood. Suddenly she was lame, and lamer, and lamer. Usually we catch these minor things quickly, fiancee being the farrier and all and my nosy self. It wasn't an abscess. It wasn't simple as we could see. Our massage therapist helped narrow down that it wasn't likely her muscles either. We did some expensive investigating between farrier and vet. We were worried about navicular or some other worse case scenario. Since after a month off Willow and my personal gelding decided they were totally sound when they vet arrived.... I love horses. The vet had mentioned that the change in the ground could have weakened her hoof since she was showing definite signs of hoof lameness for weeks beforehand. Her hoof itself seemed tender, but no noticeable abscess. It made sense that moisture and extreme dry spells could do this, what didn't make sense to me was how one foot seemed so badly effected and that after a through flexion test and lameness exam. We weighed options of shoeing and starting daily Equiox. Shoes did happen, temporarily. The meds still might. What our farrier finally found was confirmation of a weather affected hoof during his last trim, one sole was extremely soft and had quite a bit of give to it, like a sponge, while the other was normal. We knew she hadn't had lamanitis due to symptoms. The area they eat in their pasture is pretty rocky, which I love for drainage and strengthening of the hoof. However, it was a perfect recipe for a sore moving horse, with the recent hours to days of flooding rains and then days of dry heat and solid ground that seem drought like. The one hoof thing was kind of odd, but thinking about it, I think it is because of how and where she stand in her field against her buddy. I think she may stand with one hoof in a more wet area. Of course it was her front, which they carry more weight on. We will continue to watch for returning or new symptoms and stay in contact with the vet, but for now, we are going to treat what we've found. Shoes were added to temporarily support a tender foot where boots are not reasonable. Bioton, copper, zinc, lysine, and other high quality minerals and proteins will be added to her diet through supplements. Feed in supplements seem to be the best way to help a hoof, as everything seems to work inside out for the horse. It really does start with a good diet. We will also start using a topical. Being outside in dew covered grass and in these rains, she most likely doesn't need more moisture. But we don't want to draw out what is there , some is needed for a healthy, flexible hoof. So, we are going to get a great, hardening, drying product that is on the market, and use it only on her soles. Keratex is highly recommended by many vets and farriers, just make sure you are using it correctly and not long term. The best thing you can do when you find something like this it to bump up the nutrition. I've also found spirulina to cause hooves to grow extremely fast fed in even moderate doses for those who have issues with weak walls and chipping. So fast I had to take my own mare off of it. Of course hoof wall isn't the main focus with Willow, the sole is. Sometimes it takes troubleshooting, a team, and a lot of frustration to be able to help these big hairy beast we love so much. Hopefully we found Willow's recipe and she'll be back to full work within the next 50 days.