HELP!!! Horse with on and off lameness in left front

I have been having some issues with my new gelding, he has been lame on and off. He came to me in terrible condition, and we don’t know his whole history. I know he is off the track and was a steeplechaser, and that he is only 10. He is an amazing mover/jumper, and is super willing and sweet and too fancy to be broken!!!
As I started riding him there were a couple times when we saw a few funny steps that may have been lameness and then it went away, eliminating a sudden injury because it gradually got worse. Also, he has no heat or swelling anywhere. Initially it was a very low-grade lameness and it was only visible on a circle to the right, with the lame leg(left front) on the outside, making us suspect a suspension injury.
We called the vet out and he nerve blocked fetlock down with no improvement, and he flexed fine. My trainer had him stop there, assuming he would go back considering it was likely something complicated but we decided we were too attached and that he was too good of a horse to let go. We called the vet back out a few weeks later and he was completely sound. I started lunging him, then flatting him, then jumping and all was fine until yesterday, when suddenly he was lame again. Still the left front, but now it’s worse when the leg is on the inside and he’s almost completely sound the other direction, I also continued riding him the day he came up lame and after about 15 minutes it went away and he was fine jumping and everything. (The only reason I didn’t get off is because the vet told us to keep riding him if he went lame again so he couldn’t recover before he could see him again, that way they can finish blocking him.) [HR][/HR]

UPDATE: He was still lame today, and I wanted to mention my previous saddle I had been riding him in fit terribly but he wasn’t sensitive on his back, and I recently got a new saddle that actually fits him right before he went lame again. Also I wanted to add that he CONSTANTLY has one of his back legs relaxed, to the point it’s almost obsessive. He shifts between both of them, putting most of his weight on his front legs, I do t think it’s necessarily related but I thought it was strange enough to mention.

Your vet will know best. Continue to involve them and the greater team (farrier, bodywork specialist, etc.)!

Also, all horses carry more weight on their front legs… Do you have a video? I am not good with diagnosing lameness, but some people on these forums are quite knowledgeable if given a visual aid.

Sometimes a hind leg or stifle injury will present an illusion of being lame up front IME.


He needs a full lameness work up on ALL four fegs. Sounds like you just bought or leased him if trainer suggested he “go back”? Did you get a PPE with x Rays when you got the horse?

Theres no way of knowing what’s wrong and where without more vet work. Saddle fit causes some problems but, sorry to say, not obvious one sided lameness in front and shifting weight on and off a back leg.

Sound like a younger person and sorry you are going through this but he is a high and hard mileage older horse that may have some old injuries or advancing arthritis that will need to be diagnosed and treated before he comes back sound. That might take some time. Perhaps your trainer is right here about considering sending him backing that’s still possible. The diagnostics can be expensive and the majority of lameness like this requires substantial time off work to heal.

Good luck to you, we support any poster going through this, we’ve all been there. Can break your heart so hopefully it’s not an old suspensory re occuring or SI and spinal troubles. Arthritis can be managed but there is a cost to do that.

You might want to post over in the Horse Care Forum, lots of experts over there, they can even interpret x Rays if you post them after the next vet appointment and offer opinions on recovery time and protocols plus share their experiences.

Oh, I wouldn’t jump a horse that’s lame. Lame means it hurts and landing on a sore front foot can get him stopping simply to avoid the pain on landing. Actually never rode mine if they were hurting…maybe at the walk but that’s about it.

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Seconded. It’s tough, and lameness can be an enigma. We are rooting for you and your horse.

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If he keeps getting sore when you put him back to work or increase the work, there is something that is inflamed - it improves when you rest him, gets worse when you work him. If that’s the case, it could be soft tissue. You need a full start from scratch lameness workup, don’t keep trying a little of this or a little of that, shooting in the dark, because you will just end up confused and frustrated. Lameness can be tough to sort out, but you need to get to the bottom of what’s causing the discomfort. Good luck, it is always tough going through that, believe me I know!


How are his feet?

How big is he, and did he grow fast? I ask because I had a big warmblood (18 hands) present almost identically to what you’re describing, and after a couple years of every therapy under the sun, including tons of bodywork, we found an undiagnosed OCD cyst in his left elbow. Once we identified that, we treated it and got a few more years of great soundness.

Before we realized my TB was actually having stifle problems - he would randomly be off up front in addition to some hind end weirdness. It was all related.

Put shoes on the back - he improved immediately
added pads to the back - even better
switched the pads for a wedge - he feels like a different horse!

Here’s my 2 cents. The spring my horse turned 4 he began to be subtly lame on his right front . Only really a shortness around turns. I had the vet out, blocked all the way up his leg, could not find it . Had lameness specialist out, he watched horse go, suggested injecting SI and mesotherepy . The SI injected made a big difference . Begin rehab regimen to include lunging in pessoa, etc…A few months later it crops up again . Have first vet back out to see him . We start taking xrays of feet, knees, hocks, stifles, and finally back. Find a few spaces closer than ideal, but not yet kissing spines . We think this is the problem . More meso. Doesn’t help . Talk surgery . Acupuncture is the only thing helping him go normally, did that once a month for a year . Have vet out to redo the SI injections about a year after first one . Ultasound reveals a fractured SI, OLD and healed.

ETA this horse was working VERY lightly . Like 3 days a week of mostly w/t .

This and "findeight’s’ post.