I have an older horse (30+ years) who has started exhibiting rather severe discomfort in recent weeks (6-8 weeks). He has slightly dropped rear fetlocks, although by no means severe. He has been fine up until about 8 weeks ago when discomfort looked similar to founder and led us to believe was going through a bout of it with the spring grass, etc and was immediately put on stall rest and other precautions. The vet checked him initially and he was 100% negative to hoof testers and founder was ruled out as the stiffness appears to be originating the hind end.
There is absolutely no heat or swelling in any of the limbs.
He is reluctant to move much, turning is now moderately difficult and he walks in a slow, mosey-like fashion. When he is standing for long bits of time; when he goes to move again the reluctance is obvious and his actions are slow and gauged. He is uncomfortable on both rear legs. often resting and shifting weight side to side. His legs do sound crickety now with arthritis when he starts moving after being stationary.
He was put on stall rest for 2 weeks w/ a daily short walk as it was believed he may have gotten rowdy outside and was just sore from his age. He was placed on a 3 day regimen of Banamine with no obvious improvements that were noticeable. After the first 7 days he was placed on 3 days of Bute with no obvious signs of improvement. He was somewhat back to his normal-self after the 2 weeks (bouncing around and some spring in his step but its hard to tell if that was improvement in the legs or just excited to be out of a stall).
The vet returned and did a full work up on him including flexion and balance tests but nothing conclusive other than he is old, arthritis is taking its toll and his slightly dropped pasterns are likely the contributing cause for his aches and pains at this stage. He also hoof tested him rigorously with absolutely no reaction and founder issues were once again ruled out of the equation.
The horse is on an MSM supplement and also a complete vitamin/mineral supplement for his age.
He has a very cushy mat to stand on in his paddock that he spends a lot of time on. I have contemplated building a sandbox in his run-in for added comfort but unsure if this would actually offer anything. It is understood he cannot stay on a banamine/ bute regimen long term and both drugs did not really take the pain away that were noticeable so they are bit of a non-option at this point.
The vet did not have much in the way of thoughts other than keep him on the joint supplement, and let him outside so that het can walk around and keep the range of motion going. He is outside and will walk around his paddock and graze and he is by no means just standing in a corner reluctant to move; but where he goes and how much effort he puts in is extremely calculated.
I have been linimenting the legs 1x a day each day for the past week. He seems revitalized afterwards and walks much better; but again, a temporary relief.
He is barefoot on the rears but wears shoes in the front. are regular-rear shoes an option to help him? Or will they offer him little support? Is there something else we can be doing externally to bring his comfort level back to something more desirable?
his sudden onset of discomfort is rather surprising to me, especially since his degree of drop to his pastern is not what I would consider lifechanging nor has he exhibited any severe range of motion discomfort in the past. There is another horse on the property that was a rescue and his also of similar age with severe DSLD that it has had for it’s entire life; yet it’s comfort level is much more desirable than this gelding whos onset was sudden. That horse is on a regular dose of equioxx. Equioxx could be an option for this gelding too, but unsure if it will do anything and the vet didn’t have a yay or ney on it either?
Overall the horse is in amazing shape for his age, he has held his weight and looks amazing and has always had amazing spirits up until a few weeks ago when he appears down. But his discomfort level has reached seriously concerning to me and I am hoping someone here has something beneficial I could try to help him improve.