My horse is suddenly experiencing some difficulty trailering that the vet cannot explain. I’m wondering if anyone has seen anything similar or has any outside the box ideas. Here are the facts:
Starting in late November or early December (a dozen or less trailer rides ago), I noticed ruckus in the trailer on turns, like my horse was scrambling. Eventually I figured out it was only on turns/curves to the right.
After this happened a few times I rode in the back to watch and video while someone drove figure 8s for me. What’s happening is bizarre and hard to explain, so I put a couple videos on YouTube (sorry, I didn’t have the means on hand to combine them into one video):
http://youtu.be/J6XS7Go4ruI <-- darker image but you can see the front knees bending
http://youtu.be/evhAPwHmeuU <-- brighter image but not as dramatic
For those who don’t want to watch, here is my explanation. He’s not slipping (which explains why more bedding or less bedding, both of which I tried, didn’t help). It seems like it starts with him refusing to load his right hind and then sometimes even picking his right heel up off the ground. Then as the turn continues his hips sometimes fall to the left so that he leans on the trailer for a second. Or he steps to the left with his left hind and leans straight back. Sometimes he leans back and his knees bend, almost like he’s trying to sit down or starting a stretch. Sorry, hard to explain, like I said. But it’s definitely not just slipping. And like I said, he is totally stable and normal on left turns. It’s just when we turn to the right.
- Speed doesn't make a difference. I can creep out of my driveway at 2 mph or take a gentle curve in a 40 zone at 25 and still hear him back there.
- It does seem to get better the longer he is in the trailer, although my sample size is pretty small. When I drove him ~50 min to the vet on surface roads he was pretty steady by the time we got there and then again on the way home the same day. To/from lessons 10 min away is the worst and I cringe on every right turn/curve. This weekend I drove him home 2 hours (mostly highway) and only felt it three or four times, even when we got to the windy surface roads near home.
- Riding or turnout before shipping doesn't make a difference.
- Nothing about the trailer or rig has changed.
He was flexed in early Jan and only his right hind hock was very slightly positive on asphalt, which is pretty good for an old man I guess. His flexion was exactly the same back in 2011 and he has never been off on the right hind under saddle. He does get Cosequin ASU every day, Adequan once a month, and hock injections as needed but not super often.
I showed the vet the video and he agreed it’s very strange but said those things can be very difficult to diagnose and he would rather rely on the flexions and other clinical findings. (Totally understandable.) We did test him for EPM because of his history (see below) and his levels were so low that the vet said they do not indicate a current infection but rather residual antibodies from his prior bout. The vet didn’t see any signs of pain or tightness in his back and spine, so he said he wouldn’t recommend a chiropractor but that (or acupuncture or massage) is something I would consider doing if I thought it would help.
Here is info about the horse:
He is an 18-year-old Bavarian WB dressage horse, successfully showing at Grand Prix and totally sound under saddle.
I’ve had him since he was 4 so I’m familiar with substantially all of his (extensive) medical history. Here are the highlights:
- Spring 2002: While recovering from a torn suspensory, was treated successfully for EPM. Had obvious symptoms like imbalance/weird gait when walking downhill, that have never returned.
- Fall 2003: Scared the life out of me by putting a front foot through a straight-wire fence that went almost all the way into his coffin joint. Had emergency surgery and has fully recovered except for a scar. (It was hard to find barns without wire in Texas, but I went out of my way for wood fences after that.)
- Spring 2006-Fall 2008: Bone cyst in left shoulder, which required three surgeries. Resection of the bicipital tendon was finally successful and he has had no problems at all in that shoulder since then, even while moving up from Third Level to GP.
- Summer 2014: Slightly positive Lyme disease test. Vet did not recommend treating at that level without clinical signs. I only got him tested because he was feeling a little duller than usual and I am being treated for Lyme so I'm overly suspicious.
I keep him at home now so I know that nothing has changed with his care or routine. He has been totally normal and happy in every other way. Good boy even still self-loads without protest, even though I wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t want to get in there.
I’m wondering what could cause this instability without affecting his general soundness or well-being. I’m very curious to hear if anyone has any ideas! Thanks in advance.