Odd NQR

Sorry! I wrote that long ramble before I took my Adderall (seriously), here’s a simple version:

I believe there’s a problem with my mare’s left hind. She had a bone chip on outside of the cannon bone of her left hind removed and I think something’s still bothering her. I have had four vets, one chiropractor and one massage/bodyworks person check my horse and watch me ride. They all say she’s fine. I don’t agree.

Her back end does not feel stable/feels wobbly to me, don’t know how else to explain it. Sometimes it feels like she’s walking “spread out” in the back. She sometimes loses/drags the left hind going downhill and cantering in the arena. I can feel her butt suddenly drop. After I ride her the left hind leg is turned to the right; sometimes both hind legs are twisted to the right. Vets think this is a conformation issue. I think she’s twisting the back end to avoid pain/discomfort.

This doesn’t happen when anyone else rides her, however I’m the heaviest rider.

The vet is due to come out for shots, so any suggestions what I could ask her?

Is it possible there’s still some bone chip left and it’s only bothering her due to my weight?

Is there other damage she could have done by kicking?

I don’t want this turning into a serious soundness issue as she gets older.

I have pictures of the twisted hind end but don’t know how to post them.

Thank you!

I read your whole post, and have some thoughts. First off, in my experience, any time I have expressed concern regarding my horse’s soundness that resulted in disagreement (from either the trainer or a vet) I have always ended up being correct. There are things we as riders and owners can see/feel that other do not. I’m not trying to scare you, but my instinct is to tell you to follow your intuition about this situation. It’s possible it could have something to do with weight, but more likely for me to think you are just more sensitive to what you are feeling from your horse’s body.

As an anecdote, my BO’s gelding had been standing for quite a while with his right hind turned out. She’s mentioned it to two different vets, and two different trainers. They all dismissed her concerns. She was positive it was a stifle issue, as she had been reading that a turned out stance can indicate stifle issues, but it turned out to be double suspensory strains, and arthritis in the right SI joint. Vet thinks the strains (vet said they looked old) occured due to the horse’s conformation and compensation for the arthritis. I personally think it also has to due with him being started by a trainer who did extensive round-pen work and this is a very big warmblood. She pushed and pushed before she found a vet willing to really analyze everything she noticed going on with this guy, and it took a LONG time.

But anyway, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen vets and trainers dismiss subtle NQRness is horses. I am biased, because I’m my own cases, over the years I have had three horses with injuries that I had to beg my vets to address, as each time they couldn’t see anything that reflected what I was feeling. I think each diagnosis took a minimum of 3 visits. In retrospect, I would have gone right to a bone scan for each case, as it an would have been cheaper than all the vet visits combined. Sometimes we just know our horses, which is just a natural byproduct of the time spent together. I wish you the best of luck!

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I deleted my post because I just re-read yours and picked up on something which made me realise my initial thought was probably not relevant.

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OP, I echo what @OceansAway says. My first thought, also, upon reading your post, was that it is probably less attributable to weight, than you are probably more sensitive/perceptive to your mare’s NQR-ness.

I had a similar experience, where I thought something was not right with my mare’s hind end. Multiple professionals, friends that I trusted and respected, and my vet all told me it was in my head. As it turns out, I was correct and they were wrong.

All I can recommend is, if you are not getting answers that you are satisfied with, definitely pursue another medical opinion and further diagnostics.

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Not scaring at all, actually your comment is reassuring and I will keep investigating this.

I think it’s my weight because she never drops/catches her left hind, and isn’t twisted in the back after being ridden by lighter riders.

I’m just looking for suggestions for questions for the vet when she comes. I’ll ask about suspensory strains and a bone scan is probably a good idea. I just thought about asking the vet to do, I believe it’ called a nerve block, in the left hind.

How do I add images? Thanks

I read your post and appreciate the level of detail you’ve shared. I agree that as riders we often feel and notice things that others simply can’t. You are your mare’s best advocate.

Of the four vets who you say have checked your horse, have any of them done a lameness exam including flexions? The back end not feeling stable combined with dragging a hindlimb and the twisted hind end/hind leg positioning sounds possibly neurological to me, and I would also request a neurological exam and get bloodwork done in support of that line of investigation.

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I do understand your concern regarding weight. As @mad_unicorns stated, I would want a neurologic workup done on addition to a traditional lameness exam. Perhaps discuss EPM and x-rays of the cervical spine. You might also want to look into Lyme disease, as it can have a neurologic component, along with checking Vit E levels. Personally, I would also want the SI examined, but that’s more of a personal paranoia stemming from a horse of mine that had a spinal fracture resulting in spinal compression and neuro symptoms. It was found when examining the SI region, since we were wondering about sciatic pain. He ended up healed and sound, but it was a really unusual case!

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Ditto on the neuro exam. And consider some neck xrays. I had one with cervical arthritis, and it caused some significant reactions in hind end when neuro exam done. Fast forward, had his neck injected and it helped a lot, for over a year. I was riding him lightly, maybe 30 minutes W-T-C and started to notice one hind sort of dropping out , getting left behind, like a wonky stifle. First in corners, then more frequent in other parts of the arena. I stopped riding him a month or so later but would put him in the round pen a couple times/week and without the weight of saddle and me pressing on the spine, there was no stifle or hind end issue in either direction. You might want to consider a saddle evaluation, but that wouldn’t be at the top of my list given the things you list. Your other option is to haul the mare to a vet clinic where they have the tools/equip to do scans, etc. Good luck, these odd things suck.

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To add images: do the reply button and when the new box opens, the tool bar has an icon of an upward arrow with a line under it. That is the upload button. I have also used copy and paste.

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How long was she off for the surgery? How long back in work? The symptoms sound like they are up high, probably in the SI area. Possibly lower back. Possibly stifle. All of these things could be a factor if she isn’t fit yet from the time off. Or she could have done some damage there with the activity that caused the chip (sounds like splint bone fracture?). Lots of times they won’t really present lame if in the pelvis or back. If the stifle is not locking, but you have that dropping out feeling similar to a locking stifle issue, in my experience that is pelvis/SI.

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Thanks for the explanation!

This is her left hind twisted after I rode.

This one you can see her right boot, which is fitted properly, is twisted after a ride. The left boot never twists. I suspect she’s putting down her right foot then twisting.

I have to head out, but I’ll respond to comments later today. Thanks!

Hard to tell from these pics but is she bringing the RH to midline or is she crossing the LH out behind? Second pic looks like she wants to bring the RH inward, with LH in normal line of body. That would suggest to me something high up with the right hind. But the first pic would make me think a neuro problem.

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Very good suggestions.

All the vets did a lameness exam and she was fine. Two of them also watched me ride and didn’t see any problems.

Neurological issues was the first thing the vet checked for but didn’t find anything. I’ve put two horses down due to Wobbler’s so I have, unfortunately, experience riding those horses and honestly that’s not what she feels like when I ride.

The surgery was a couple of years ago so I don’t remember how long she took to recover, but I did follow my vet’s directions.

I’ve asked about pelvis/SI issues. The vets felt it wasn’t an issue since she doesn’t buck, canters normally, and moves forward willingly. It’s hard to tell with horses, sometimes, they don’t always show signs of minor pain. After reading some of these comments I’m going to ask about it again.

I just spent a couple of days researching bone chips. Even when they’re removed there can still be some pain. I think I’ll ask for nerve blocking in the left hind. I’ve tried giving her bute before riding, but I didn’t notice any difference. A nerve block is much stronger.

All this reminds me of when I broke my toe last December. I altered the way I walked to avoid causing pain. Every so often I would accidently put pressure on my toe then jerk/twitch as a reaction. After of week I started having sore muscles in one leg and a sore hip in the other because I wasn’t walking normally. That’s the impression I’m getting, she’s moving awkwardly to avoid pain. Every so often she probably steps on the painful part and that’s when she drags/catches her left hind. My toe, however, has since healed and I’m not sore anymore. If she’s still having minor pain then the rest of her body isn’t being given a chance to recover.

I’ll call the vet tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes.

She is trained to drive (I don’t currently have a cart). If I can’t get this solved we can always switch to driving and she isn’t carrying anyone.

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Well the vet came out last Wednesday. Wouldn’t do a nerve block because he didn’t think it would show anything. He wants me to try and video her leg issues. That won’t be easy, but I could try mounting my phone on the rail.

So I tried to piggy-back on the someone else’s vet a couple days later. Also wouldn’t do a nerve block and said my horse looked fine.

Is nerve blocking a big deal? I assumed it’s just like getting novocaine at the dentist, it just wears off after awhile.

I’m really suspecting a suspensory ligament issue. It would explain why she improves when she gets time off and gets worse the more often I ride.

It also might explain why the more weight she carries the more it bothers her. Granted, this quote refers to overweight horses but the concept is the same.

“Weight is a factor. More weight means more stress on the ligament, so an overweight horse is at greater risk,”

My vet doesn’t think it’s a suspensory issue so I’m going to contact another vet for a second opinion. Hopefully, I can find one willing to do a nerve block.

So a nerve block is only helpful if you can see a difference. So if they aren’t seeing any lameness then blocking is fairly non diagnostic because there’s not going to be a difference. It’s also a fairly time consuming process because without a red flag area to start with you’d have to start with the foot and work your way up. There also isn’t a great block for certain areas in the hind end, like the suspensories.

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The way my vet described a nerve block to me was that they have to be 2-3/5 on the lameness scale in order for the nerve block to show a difference. My vet explained that and then still did it for me to see if we saw a difference but we didn’t because my horse was very similar he was slightly nqr. I wouldn’t take them not wanting to block as an issue. I would want a vet willing to poke around more and see if they can find anything so I’d still recommend a vet hospital or lameness specialist.

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I just saw a post on FB where the horse developed a huge amount of scar tissue after an injury on the leg that had to be removed. You couldn’t tell at all from outside the horse other than he was lame and sore. Maybe ultrasound where the chip was removed to see?

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I second all of this, particularly the Lyme titer and EPM test. Even if the vet thinks it’s not warranted, do it anyway just to rule it out.

RE: your weight. My old riding instructor was very overweight, and she knew it. She rode draft crosses for the most part, but she also did two things that would make it easier for a horse to carry her: she carried her own weight by engaging the core, and she made the horses engage their cores as well while she was on them. This is a delicate question, but how do you ride compared to the other riders you mentioned, who aren’t as heavy as you? Do you ride in a larger saddle than they do, which might be interfering with her back more, perhaps pinching a nerve somewhere?

If it is only related to when you ride her , then I would really look at how your riding ( skill, position experience or fitness) is different from the others who regularly ride her and have no problems.

Unfortunately you may be too heavy for her to carry .

Not meaning to be unkind. Just that each horse is different in what they can tolerate. She may appear to be suitable in build but obviously that seems to be a factor.

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How long ago was the surgery? When there is pain there is also usually compensation and weakness/uneven muscling can occur. It is also very possible that this is a case of weakness a bad muscle memory caused by the bone spur. Changing muscle memory and habit can be difficult and can take very targeted physical therapy

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