Unlimited access >

Cellulitis, excessive poop, groin strain...the list goes on

I got my 5 year old OTTB in July. He was being retrained by a reputable pro and had been off the track since March. He had done a recognized BN event and had been signed up for a Novice event when i bought him so despite perhaps being pushed a bit hard a bit fast, was showing a lot of willingness and athleticism. The vet check was clean except for back soreness which after a week of rest wasn’t an issue. He has never tracked up behind but I assumed that was/is more a muscling/training issue. He is green with almost no proper muscling. I got him a chiropractic session off the bat and she said he wasnt back sore but had muscle spasms which responded to the session. I did a BN clinic and several elementary starter trials for fun in the first few months and I thought he was great. We have schooled some BN cross-country and he did it with ease. I’ve been riding 5 days a week plus 1 lunge. thats usually two lessons and a trail ride, with lots of poles, transitions, lateral work and everything i can to help build muscle… which he hasnt really done. Partly I’m sure because I’m an ammy working on my connection issues so hes not working on the bit a ton, but he was in training board last month with my pro trainer so getting some rides from her as well, and we added some pessoa lunges last month. When i first got him he was completely upside down and anxious. After a month he started to stretch down and be relaxed but he’s a very sensitive ride. any off balance or jerk and he is back up in the air. A major issue though is that he doesn’t pick up his back legs over poles, he just smashes into them - we even broke a solid wood pole the other day. When he walks downhill he drags his feet which also seems concerning re:his hind end.

A month ago I was out of the country and my trainer rode him and tried to jump a small jump on a circle and it was a disaster. He was willing but just throwing himself over the jump. She thought maybe he had just had a growth spurt from 16.3hh to 17hh and was having growing pains/unsure of his new body, but it hasnt worked itself out. A few months ago we jumped 3ft no problem (although we werent jumping that height with regularity, really working on foundational work), but now he seems to struggle with cavaletti. And if its a line… even if its the perfect distance and rhythm he knocks the second pole. He also tends to slip in his hind end…to be honest I’m not sure what side, i think he does it in both directions. He also hangs on the left rein a LOT but has been getting better with work i thought. I asked the vet last week and she said he had weak stifles and just to work him more. I had a bodyworker out last week after that and she said he seemed to have a groin pull on the left side and she worked it out, and for me to rest him and then work him back up slowly. On top of this, in september he got cellultis in his rear left leg - super swollen, heat, lame. He was on antibiotics for about a month. He was always a pooper but now it is out of control. He poops maybe 6 times in an hour lesson. He destroys his stall at night, and it needs to be completely stripped. In a 20 min lunge he will poop twice. All solid poops but it seems really excessive. No ulcers, no worms. The vet said to try probiotics. Equiotics didnt work so now im trying O3 omega oil and succeed. So now today, after three days off for rest, he has cellulitis again…maybe. It did rain the past few days and today his left hind was swollen to double the size, but not hot. not lame either. i gave him a bute and walk/trot work for 30 min and the swelling went down but still there. I called the vet and she said to give him bute and my leftover antibiotics (leftover because they didnt work initially and so we switched to a different one) but if i wanted to see if it wasnt cellultis and was stocking up from lack of work, to just see if it went down with the bute only ( i asked because my trainer said maybe its not cellulitis but an old injury showing itself after being off)… So question one is who should i take my horse to see? He is in Southern Maryland and I wish i could just put him in a full body scanner to see whats going on. I want answers! I keep wondering if he has food allergies but he doesn’t have diarrhea and two different vets said unlikely. We did a blood panel last week and it was normal.

I’m at a total loss. I dont know whether to work or rest my horse… aside from the cellulitis, which is a whole other disaster. My trainer is worried about what another round of antibiotics will do to his already overactive gut. On the one hand, I know i need patience with training my baby horse. On the other hand, my trainer thinks there is just something wrong with his hind end but she doesnt know what. She thinks its possible he is pooping because he is in pain. She said that when you look at him you can tell there is something wrong. he doesnt know how to use his back and she seems to think hes unhappy. honestly i just want to do right by him, he is the SWEETEST horse and so flipping willing, and i want to figure out what is going on. I know this is a lot of info all over the place. That’s how i feel right now. I have a PEMF appointment in a few weeks as well, im just throwing darts on a board now. I’ve spent like 6k on proper fitting saddles so i dont think thats the issue. Videos of trainer lunging him for clarity. Thanks in advance for any advice you have



Sending pm.

He looks much like mine did when he was brewing his SI ligament tear. Didn’t track up on the left hind, dragged the toe, and nearly always clipped the trot poles behind. Also quite crooked and hung on one rein. He also was willing and happy and jumped around and showed - until he finally broke (let me assure you he had been seen by a vet many times but we couldn’t pin down the problem until it got much worse).

I did end up sending mine for a bone scan, seeing as you mentioned a whole-body scan. It might be worth it at this point. I also got tired of the shotgun approach with trying to figure out the issue and spending money. Mine was definitely on one side so we did do nerve blocks from hoof to stifle (nothing blocked sound) first to eliminate some possibilities, like hind suspensory (which was the guess of one vet based on his movement).

ETA - once I had a diagnosis, I was able to successfully rehab him and he’s had no further problems. I do ensure I keep up on his hock maintenance to prevent compensation that might trigger another SI problem (he’s got lower joint arthritis).

1 Like

Thanks SolarFlare, that is helpful. To clarify, the bone scan found a ligament tear?

Thanks SolarFlare, that is helpful. To clarify, the bone scan found a ligament tear?

I cant answer anything else but have seen a few groin strains and they can completely stop a horse jumping.
usually resolves with some treatment, and ones ive seen havent been a red flag for anything more.

Obviously if it keeps happening, or there are other symptoms its a red flag, but a one off groin strain wouldnt stress me too much.

Good luck

The scan showed the SI and hocks lighting up (we already knew about the hocks). Because of the extensive work I’d had done by my vet, the hospital was able to say with 99% certainty that it was a soft tissue SI injury as we had eliminated any other possibility.

The SI is a notoriously hard area to image. I have read of other posters on here having ultrasounds done (rectally maybe?) but that option was never even presented to me, and I had taken him to a teaching hospital so I would think if they could do it they would have. It might be a matter of improved equipment available now (mine was done in 2015).

What you’ve written screams neurological to me. If he were mine, if check him for EPM post haste and consider neck rads.

1 Like

What did you do during rehab? I’m pretty much in the same boat. We’ve done IRAP and other injections with short term success but the last time he was injected, it didn’t make a difference. I’m in a position to give him time off and rehab for an assumed soft tissue issue (with vet input of course).
My horse’s issue is also one sided and only at the canter. He’s not lame but when off, he doesn’t reach under himself and will even trot behind.

He was put on stall rest for four months, with hand walking (increasing time gradually, and adding poles at the walk, then raised poles at the walk). I did clear with the vet for him to go outside in a very contained area (half-sized round pen) after 6 weeks. My horse is very sensible and doesn’t run around in turnout, so vet was okay with this. If yours is going to go nuts, probably not a good idea. Basically vet said he was only allowed to walk anywhere.

After three months, the turnout area was increased to a full-sized round pen, and after four months (and vet recheck) I was allowed to get back on. We walked only under saddle for 6 weeks, starting at I think 10 minutes and increasing by 5 minutes every week or so, until we were up to 45 minutes of walking. No tight turns, no lateral. Very boring but essential. We were then allowed to add a minute of trot each direction, then slowly increase that, then add large circles, etc. I think it was over 3 months before we added any canter (cantering is a bigger strain on the SI). During the trot work phase, we added trot poles as well (mine again is used to them and I knew he wouldn’t jump them or run off at the canter). After another month or so of increasing canter, I then added small cavaletti and jumps.

I actually did have mine injected (ultrasound guided, but just cortisone) before the bone scan, and it helped for a few months but then we were back to square one. Injected a second time and no success whatsoever, which is then when we decided to send for the bone scan (after blocking high suspensory again, since his symptoms presented so similarly).

The good news is after that careful rehab, I haven’t had any further problems. I haven’t had to reinject the SI - even the teaching hospital wasn’t sure whether we would need to repeat for maintenance, but again I keep up on his hocks to avoid starting the cycle. He gets hocks injected once a year, and he’s on monthly Ichon (after the loading dose) which seems to help him.

1 Like

When was he gelded? He may need to be sedated and have a vet do a really, really “invasive” hands on evaluation of his groin and scrotal area.

Just an update… I had a highly recommended vet out…she had absolutely no idea what was going on after two visits and had me trailer him to a clinic for a bone scan. Bone scan and x rays later, official diagnosis was back pain stemming from a sore ligament running along his spine. I was told to rehab him with core and ground work for 2-3 months and ideally just turn him out and let him be a horse. This cost over $3,000. I had a local vet out for two rounds of shockwave therapy and she told me to start riding him. We talked about it and I asked her to run an EPM test just to absolutely rule it out (had been discussed with another vet but at the time he had cellulitis so we couldn’t run the test. Subsequently tested for lyme and did a blood panel to rule out those things and was told most horses test positive for EPM so the test wasn’t really recommended at the time). He just came back extremely positive for EPM so… @Simkie you were right… Vet is of the opinion that he will respond to treatment so fingers crossed. Extreme guilt for not pushing this sooner. The time and money put into this diagnosis… Fingers crossed that he responds to medicine