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Calling all diagnostic wizards

Since January horse has been super reactive to any light brushing or placing of hand on right side, right about where cecum is.

Regular body work has shown he’s gotten super tight also from poll through neck and shoulder.

On lunge, looks like a bag of parts, and like his feet hurt. Under tack, won’t go forward … as in, won’t take a trot step. Will walk on a long rein but if I even pick up the reins and take to a mostly non-existent connection (that is, reins drooping), brakes are jammed on. He started demonstrating discomfort after a 15 minute walk warm up … he would get kind of roach backed and crabbing sideways.

Has a mysterious patch of edema on his back that showed up in late January and isn’t resolved, yet.

Did complete xrays of head, neck, back, feet. Ultrasounded neck and back also. Nothing of concern. Saddle checked twice (custom made for him), teeth checked (perfect), gut checked (perfect).

The only other oddity is that he is travelling in a strange way on lunge. To the right, his head points out, and his butt points in. He does not want to bend.

Any ideas?

Who has reviewed the imaging? Have you considered sending it out for a second opinion?

What does “gut checked” mean? Did you scope? Did you ultrasound to screen for hind gut issues? Have you checked for sand?

What does a bute trial do? Have you considered trying gabapentin?

Have you tested for lyme, or other tick borne disease?


Great questions, Simkie - thank you.

Images have been reviewed by 2 vets. Sending to a neck specialist this week, so I’ll have 3 interpretations.

Yes, scoped and ultrasounded for gut issues. Yes, xrayed for sand - nothing.

I can’t try Bute as his gut is way too sensitive. Have not tried gabapentin but that is an intriguing idea.

Blood pulled for basic profile and Lyme - should be back Monday.

Tylenol might be worth a shot, it should carry far less risk of hammering his belly. Here are a couple papers with dosage; I recently used it for pain control both with banamine and then alone with what I thought was good effect.

(I’d never even heard of this usage prior to the vet recommending it here, it looks to be a pretty new concept in horses!)

If your bloodwork comes back boring, it might be worth a try to check vit e and selenium levels as well?

It might help the armchair sleuths if you could let us know approximately where you’re located. How long has your horse resided there?

These are just random ideas. I’m not a vet, just another horse owner. Have you done a bone scan or a gastroscopy? Just thinking about an occult rib fracture or ulcers.

Do you know PSSM status?

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Is he turned out? Could he have slammed into something—a tree, a wall, got body slammed by a horse, flipped himself over? Hit his head or got cast? Nothing may be broken, but perhaps he is all out of whack?

How does the SI area palpate? IT joints in lumbar imaged? Rectal ultrasound done?

You mention edema on his back…where on his back? Could something have fallen and hit him, bruising his back???

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My first thoughts are Lyme, EPM, chronic magnesium/E/selenium or some other key nutrient deficiency, SI tear or other muscle damage, maybe feet are genuinely hurting him. Suspensories?

Following, as well, because my horse sounds remarkably similar. He looks like a WP horse w/t on the lunge and REFUSES to go forward under saddle, and it’s gotten worse. I’ve kicked him out to pasture and pulled his shoes, planning to let Dr Green do some work on him, but I’m interested to see what you may come up with.

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Where on his back?

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My horse sounds similar, though to a slightly lesser degree and no edema. (He will still trot with me on his back but doesn’t move very freely and wants to carry head very low. I started a smilar thread recently with some videos of him on the lunge if you want to conpare.) My vet has done the basics without any definitive answer, we are going in for a bone scan.

On right side, and under saddle area. I know that seems suspicious, right? He is not painful at all there now, although he was in early February, and vets cannot figure out what he did. Bone is all fine, as are ligaments, muscle. It’s just this patch about the size of my hand. It has gotten flatter, but still there. We did inject it with IRAP, used shockwave two times now.

LOL I actually commented on your thread!

How well were you able to image C6/C7 and C7-T1?

Actually surprisingly well. Waiting for responses from vet team.

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Well, there isn’t much to update on.

Despite injection at C5, he remains uncomfortable under tack. Vets are now taking the approach that he probably has some systemic inflammation because he’s overweight, so want him to lose some pounds before we inject anything else, otherwise additional treatment will likely be a waste of time and money.

I think I was very very lucky to get a few amazing rides at the confluence of just the right amount of pred and a moment of perfect gut health. I will be focusing on reducing his calories and hoping we can at least get to a point where I can get on and walk around. Until then, it’s hand walking, some light lunging and I guess figuring out another expensive hobby. I have to recognize he may never be able to tolerate being ridden, though.

I’m sorry, I wish your update was happier news. :frowning: I hope the diet changes help.