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Mystery lameness

Mare goes out of her way to shift her weight away from right front leg only while standing. Literally hanging on the crossties and today looked like in a fair bit of pain. Vet has been called but it’s a head scratcher for me.

No classic laminitis posture, nice, clean hooves. She could do with some extra weight so I wouldn’t call her high risk. In fact farrier saw her on Tuesday and didn’t notice anything off which was the first day I noticed the funny posture. Rode her that day, she wasn’t off (had others watch me) but felt unusually stiff. I thought maybe I put her into too much work and then went away for a week so she was just feeling like we all do after a pause…

Yesterday funny posture (tilting her neck to the left) was still there so I checked her at liberty and then lunged her to specifically check for lameness. Looked pretty good to me and her stiffness improved a lot over the session. Felt quite even on the lunge in the end.

Today the posture was still there so decided to have a very, very hard look and noticed the sinking on one side of her chest. It finally clicked to me that it wasn’t stiffness as much as it was her shifting her weight away from that foot! Made me feel really really stupid! But still no heat or swelling anywhere, specifically checked the hoof. Today she came up mildly lame 1/5, which turned quite obvious when lunged on hard ground I’d say 3/5 and reluctance to trot. Then more lame when back on soft ground than prior to lunging on hard ground but not head bobbing and no reluctance, maybe 2 out of 5.

Could this be an abscess? A strange case of founder? I just haven’t seen a horse with either that seems to be pretty ok to move but not to stand on hard ground?

Anyone ever seen this before?

Is there anywhere you can stand her on soft ground to see if she still shifts weight away from that foot/leg?

I’m going to guess an abscess in that foot. I’ll be interested to see what others say.


Something’s wrong. Impossible to even guess without seeing her move.

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That was my first thought too

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Agreed with the others, impossible without seeing her move. But sounds like shoulder to me.

Yes she seemed more comfortable in the sand arena and in her stall compared to paved areas and crossties. I tacked her up inside her stall on Tuesday which is why I didn’t really notice it first time around.

So vet came out and of course the horse was sound and the weird posture had resolved. No real answers yet…

BUT vet now suspects EPM because she seemed weak behind (dragging hind) and kind of failed the tail neuro test. She did lose a lot of muscle about 6 months ago (but there are possible other reasons -e.g. ulcers, stress and possible deworming fail we are addressing) and once stumbled on her knees in a rocky arena with my husband months ago so I think there is some credibility to this hypothesis.

On the other hand, she has been progressing quite nicely in her training with me after that incident which was now a few months ago. we are now doing 1m courses at home and never have I felt the horse was not safe or stepping weirdly - gymnastic, tighter turns and otherwise. I also have a very experienced coach who hasn’t suggested this as a possible issue. So as of now my personal judgment on this is a bit suspended because I can see arguments for why yes and why not.

Will order the tests anyways and hope that they come back normal. I have to say I’d much rather have a mild case of EPM that resolves with 1 month of Marquis than another suspensory horse (my other one) … so there’s that.

Thanks all for your input.