Quick opinions: older horse losing range of motion in shoulders and knees (Good-ish update #10, video #14)

(Note: vet is coming on Friday for this and some other things.)

Opinions on what might be happening here? I’m vaguely considering hauling her to one of the big clinics in the area if the vet doesn’t come up with something…

Horse is 22, Morgan mare, lots of arthritis but still pretty perky. I ride her about 4 times a week, mostly-walk trail rides about 45 to 75 minutes, or a ~20 minute walk warm-up followed by 15-20 minutes WTC in the arena. She gets equioxx every day and a pentosan shot every 2 weeks. Hasn’t had joint injections recently, but has had a lot done in hocks, SIs, and stifles a few times in the past. Only injections in fronts were coffin joints once in 2018 and it didn’t do much. She is borderline IR so her last injections, to her hocks almost a year ago, were ProStride rather than steroids.

Chiro came today and said she has lost range of motion in her shoulders and especially her knees. This doesn’t surprise me, as she has been taking some “stutter steps” in front at the start of each ride. It feels like her hoof doesn’t quite clear the ground, so the toe drags for a moment but then she finishes the step. This doesn’t happen at the trot or canter. She is shod with pads, not for her hooves (which are great) but the joints above them (she toes in and her cannon bones are offset from her knees.)

Chiro also says she’s tight in the SI/lumbar area.

I know that my range of motion is greatly decreased in my shoulder due to arthritis no matter what I do. So maybe our animals suffer as we do?

Interested to hear what your vet has to say and hope he can help her.

Unfortunately, the vet had several colicy horses to see this afternoon, so the appointment was postponed until Wednesday.

This mare, if she was mentally comfortable walking on the trails alone, but physically not up for much more, I’d be fine with that.

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Might be worth shoulder stretches, kinda like PT for the shoulder. I know the TTouch program has some good ones.

My old ASB used to get Legend and Adequan shots every other week to combat his stiffness. Together they worked better for him, he was in his late 20’s carting around well-to-do 8 and under kiddos for my old trainer at shows so money wasn’t an object to keep him comfortable. He was so safe and loved his job. I’m sure they did a feed supplement as well. He retired completely at 32 still comfortable on his regime, and passed right after.

Could there be any issues with toe being too long in the front? With pads they do have a tendency to run forward if your not careful.

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Jingles for a good outcome Wednesday

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Well, today was the visit. Pluses and minuses here:

– vet is very impressed with her general condition and topline, says she’s at a perfect weight and our feed plan is ideal**, plus whatever work I am doing with her is “just right.”
– for a horse her age and with her history and leg conformation, she’s doing quite well
– no obvious sight issues
– she is easy to work with
– shoeing looks good but she has pads all around, so hoof testers don’t really work. He doesn’t think her hooves are part of the problem.

– slight lameness on left hind (this is basically normal for her.)
– her shoulders are very tight. He showed me some stretches to help with that
– she flexed +1 in lower front legs and +2 for hocks, mild +1 for stifles
– some reactivity in SI area
– needed a pelvic adjustment (he does chiro so he did that.)
– some issues are behavioral. This is “on me” to some degree; I should adjust my approach to be more calm and patient.

– she definitely needs hock injections. He agrees that Pro-Stride is a better choice than steroids. He wondered whether we should wait until trail riding season, but I said it’s better to do them sooner, because in a way, her winter work is harder (more dressage-y, more trot and canter) and of course she’s more stiff in the winter. But he wants the blood work results before scheduling this.
– blood draws for Cushings, non-fasting insulin (as long as she had nothing but hay to eat for 6-8 hours, which was the case), CBC+kidney values since she is on Equioxx long-term
– try a switch from a PPI to Gut X but can go back to a PPI if needed
– is there any way to have hay in front of her for most of the night? (answer: probably not… she eats very quickly even with a small-hole Nibble Net, and she can’t have more hay or she will get too fat.)
– weekly massage would help, especially her front end

** Her food: first cut grass hay ~20 to 25 pounds per day in 6 or 7 feedings (one of the reasons I LOVE this barn – they do not short horses on hay and make it up with concentrates.)

Breakfast is 1/2 small bucket Triple Crown Stress Less chopped forage, SmartPak of SmartCirculate and Quiessence, 1 scoop Thyro-L (12 mg thyroxine), currently 2 generic Nexium (40 mg) but will switch to Gut X as a trial. May add Equishure, but it hasn’t done a lot for her previously.

Dinner is 1 cup Outlast pellets, 1 1/2 dose Grand Meadows Premuim Plus (vitamin/mineral, joint, hoof, pre and probiotics), 6000 IU vitamin E (UltraCruz Natural – she had mild EPM a few years ago), 1 Equioxx, 1 scoop Thyro-L, about 1/2 cup dried raspberry leaves. (The raspberry leaves aren’t really necessary, but they are inexpensive, very low in calories, and help hide the taste of the medicines, so why not?)

When there is grass, I hand graze her some. She will dig through snow and ice to get at early spring grass. (Like many Morgans, she’s genetically predisposed to think that whatever she’s eating right now may be the last thing she eats for a long while!)


Did your vet mention anything about cervical arthritis? It can cause some front end issues. https://thehorse.com/179709/how-might-neck-arthritis-affect-horses-gaits/

You could get a massage gun and massage daily.

He didnt. But she doesn’t do that stepping side thing described in the article, I don’t think. And she stumbles.

All bloodwork was normal. ACTH is exactly midrange, and insulin was a couple of points below the max value, as compared to a point or two above the last time I had it done on her.

ProStride injections will happen next Wednesday.

We will see what happens.


Another update: hock injections may be working but it’s still too soon to know. However, the chiropractor and I have been discussing her front leg issues for months now, my vets are not taking it seriously, so I’ve decided to haul her to her old vets (who do a lot of sports medicine stuff) so they can have a look. Their practice is about an hour and 15 minutes away from the barn. They are with clients in FL/SC for the next two weeks so this will take a while. She is sound and happy at the walk once she is warmed up, but the little bit of trotting and cantering I’ve tried have resulted in pinned ears and sulking even though she does what’s asked. I’m keeping things simple.


I didn’t see it mentioned upthread, so I wanted to throw out Surpass as something that might help her knees in the meantime. It’s a topical anti-inflammatory. I use it in the winter for my elder statesman’s elder hocks, and he has responded well. It’s not a magic bullet but I’ve noticed a difference in his range of motion and joint articulation since I started using it daily in addition to his other therapies (oral HA, IV polyglycan, and magnetic hock boots prior to riding.) Diclofenac gel was recently made legal OTC in the US - I paid about $25 for a tube at the Giant and it’s lasted me 6 weeks so far, and I have a third left in the tube.

That sounds like an excellent idea! Thank you.

Video from this evening… Please try to ignore my icky lower leg… Was trying something new with my stirrups for the first time. And yes, she steps a little short on the left hind; that’s a permanent thing.

She was feeling much better than she had on Sunday. Much less cranky and tired. I’m still not 100% pleased, but she is better.


I think she looks great for a 22 y/o, didn’t look cranky and was moving along. She’s lucky to have you look after her and make sure she feels well.

Thank you! She’s a special horse.

Today was not so great, though… she was cranky again. (But the circumstances were… relevant.)

Vet appointment scheduled for March 8. Crossing my fingers.

She got a massage today, and the masseuse told me that she’s “tight all over.” She recommended lots of walking over ground poles, using a roller massager on her hind end.

I may have missed it, but is she tested for PMMS and other such possible metabolic problems there are tests for?

Just to cover all possibilities …