Lame Horse--No Apparent Cause-Update

Thank you! Vet is set to come back out tomorrow. I will push for X-ray and back exam.

Day 6 update

He’s walking a ton better than day 1, he will bear weight on the leg. Still rests it quickly rather than just standing on it, but he isn’t hopping around. Vet returned, did do a block on the fetlock in case the abscess was higher up in the foot/front of the foot. He did show some improvement.

Interestingly, he seems better this morning. He flexes his fetlock more than he had been even yesterday. No sign of blowout or drainage of an abscess. Could it be a case of arthritis in that joint (we are certain he has in both hind and he’s on supplement as it’s not caused lameness) and the insertion of fluid moved something or cushioned it??? Just a thought…I’m full of those! Or aggravation of the arthritis if he smacked that joint against something, like a big rock…

We are giving him the weekend and will reconvene if he hasn’t blown an abscess or improved.


Thank you all for inputs and feedback! There’s always a new lesson to learn and I appreciate all of the tips and tricks and different things to look for. These creatures are something else!

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You might want to xray based on the last block. Friend’s horse cracked a sesamoid in the stall during a show. No idea how. He wasn’t a kicker. No swelling. Just lameness although not so extreme as yours. If an issue in the fetlock caused that much lameness, I’d want images. Although the day of blocking may or may not have been useful because of the fluid injected. But if still lame Monday…


Sudden extreme lameness in my experience is usually an abscess , fracture(like a coffin bone )laminitis or could be a Keratoma (I’m talking all things pointing to a hoof issue) since zero improvement I would recommend X-rays and also an SAA to see if there’s any signs of infection /inflammation and go from there …is his temp ok ? Could also be a tick Bourne related issue as well…in which case you can pull blood to check for Anaplasmosis/Lyme /erhlichia etc

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Yes, have had this twice with an older horse. But you’d have to be blind to miss the amount of swelling. OP didn’t mention any. I felt so bad for my boy, he was miserable for a number days until antibiotics kicked in.

Fortunately, I don’t have a ton of experience with abscesses but, I was always under the impression that if you think it is an abscess, get the horse OUT of the stall. You want them to move around and that will encourage it to surface.

Paring away isn’t always going to show anything, especially if it is high. My farrier has always told me NOT to go digging for one.

I wouldn’t think the adjustment would have anything to do with it since his SUDDEN symptoms didn’t show up for 2 days later. That would just be really odd. Plus, you said here it was his RIGHT hind leg with issues, and how he is non-weight bearing on the LEFT hind leg. To me, that just wouldn’t really fit.

I do hope an abscess blows for you … but they don’t always … and sometimes not within a week. :unamused: Crossing fingers for you!

Arthritis is not going to cause a SUDDEN non-weight bearing leg, IMO. Arthritis isn’t big and sudden like that. And smacking on something externally isn’t going to affect anything inside the joint where the arthritis is. Especially when you said there was nothing on external examination on his legs. If he smacked himself on something, there would be a bump or bruise somewhere.

Everything you are describing screams abscess to me so hopefully that is what it is.

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only once, when i was waiting for more sign of abscess was i wrong and it eventually evidenced as a digital flexor tendon. It took a couple/three days for swelling to show. I kept him in and kept him rewrapped every day for about a week, and then let him in a corral and in 10 days he was back out with the herd. Never did it really swell up as other ligament/tendon injuries have. It was the ice that did it to him… Older guy. He recovered pretty quickly i thought and he’s 100% now. 9 mos later

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Nothing to add in terms of ideas but if your horse is continuing to be very painful on that leg, I would strongly recommend putting the other foot in a soft ride boot or similar. Any time you have an extended period of non weight bearing (or limited weight bearing) you run the risk of laminitis in the supporting limb. I hope your horse is continuing to improve!


Just had another vet out for an opinion and we believe it to be his stifle. Going to have to get it ultrasounded by a surgeon to see what’s going on/severity. She mentioned effusion and there is now some swelling around his stifle…2.5 weeks later!