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Recommendations for San-Francisco Bay Area Lameness Specialist?


I absolutely LOVE my vet, but am thinking that a lameness specialist would be more likely to detect a potential problem (such as a minor lesion) before it becomes an actual problem. I just can’t shake the feeling that there’s something going on and I’m making it worse by not addressing it. I’m also aware of the fact that if you keep digging to find a problem, something will eventually present. I don’t have unlimited funds to go on a full-on fishing expedition, nor do I really want to. I believe that no horse is 100% sound, but I’ve also learned to listened to my gut.
We don’t have Olympic goals, she’s a well-bred pony with great movement and lots of potential for jumping. Could excel as an eventer, hunter, jumper or dressage pony. Still relatively green broke due to a prior training “issue” with an inexperienced rider and then returned to pasture. She was started correctly and I got her from the breeder. She has excellent conformation and a good work ethic. The breeder described her as a “drama queen”, but so far it seems to me that’s she’s rather stoic :lol:. I’ve had her since the beginning of July.

I’m dealing with some minor swelling/heat/tenderness in the tendon areas of my 10yo Welsh/Quarter pony mare. It presented initially looking like a low bow :eek: when I brought her in from the pasture; I treated with ice, bute, poultice overnight, stall rest (with short handwalks 2x day) and standing wraps for a week. I thoroughly washed and examined hind legs for small cuts or punctures, and found nothing. When my vet came out to do the lameness exam, nothing appeared to be wrong except for minor effusion above the fetlock joint. Trotted sound on hard ground, lunged sound at walk/trot/canter in good footing; was advised to put her back to work and call if lameness or heat/swelling appeared :D. HOWEVER- I had given her 1g bute the previous afternoon, and still dry-wrapped her overnight, but removed wraps a couple of hours prior to vet’s arrival :o.

As far as anyone else is concerned, she’s not lame. I think she’s a little off, but it’s barely noticeable and presents more as a stiffness. Swelling does decrease after work, but it’s not general “stocking up”. She lives in a large hilly pasture 24/7 with others, and is shod on all fours with steel shoes. She is showing difficulty picking up and maintaining the right lead canter under saddle, will pick it up first try on the longe but does a lot of head tossing on departure and the first few strides. Track right is her weaker direction, but we hadn’t been having as much difficulty prior to the “incident”. Equine chiropractor came out to adjust her last week and found no structural reasons she would be having difficulty to the right. She’s due for a trim and a new set of shoes. Teeth were mechanically floated and balanced in August.

Vet is coming to re-check on Tuesday and hopefully will see what I’m seeing…I’ve been neurotically palpating and photographing her hind legs/tendons both before and after exercise, but haven’t had time (and possibly lack the appropriate skill set) to arrange the photos in iPhoto in a way so I might be able to sequence them and look more specifically for daily changes. I just find it odd that a younger mare turned out 24/7 that came to me with clean, tight legs is suddenly presenting with minor swelling and warmth, and doesn’t appear to be obviously lame. Horses that are turned out shouldn’t be stocking up, and if she were stocking up, it would be more generalized swelling.

For those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area, who do you swear by as a great lameness vet and why?


If you have recommendations on who/where to AVOID please PM me with specific circumstances and why you were dissatisfied with treatment. There’s no need to publicly berate any individual or clinic, I am a (fairly) logical individual with good reasoning and decision making skills; I like to have as much information as possible from as many sources, and I realized that some personalities simply don’t “click”, and we horse people tend to be a bit opinionated…:winkgrin:

Tom Yarbrough works inland a bit (Galt, I think), and he is great. If you are OK with a little bit of a haul, I’d recommend him.
He used to also work out of clinics in the Bay, but I’m not sure if he currently does. Worth investigating :slight_smile:

Thanks CrowneDragon, I’ll look him up.

First choice: Brad Jackman at Pioneer Equine in Oakdale.
Second choice: Dave McDonald at same place.
I don’t bother with local vets for lameness anymore.

Why don’t you haul her to Davis? The times I’ve gone there I’ve found the cost for services to be much more affordable than a private clinic. They’ll have every diagnostic tool you’ll ever need and plenty of eyes to put on the horse.

I have had less-than-ideal experiences with Davis. I think you’ll have a better go of it with Yarbrough or Jackman, and you won’t spend the entire day doing the exam.

I’ve worked with most of these vets, as like many of you, I don’t really waste money on local vets for lameness these days.

*Yarbrough is very good, thinks outside the box, but can be hard to track down. (you might try Artaurus Vet in Petaluma, as I’ve run into Yarbrough there)
*Jackman at Pioneer is an excellent choice. Pioneer in general is excellent.
*Last year I wound up at UCD and worked with Larry Galuppo (who’s a surgeon) on a mysterious lameness. I was really impressed with him. Otherwise, I don’t usually bother with UCD for lameness.
*I also like Dr. Smith out of Golden Gate Fields and worked with him and Galuppo on a tough case. He visits Sonoma Horse Park weekly. Very refined eye for lameness and being a track vet, he sees a lot of injuries.

Another vote for Pioneer – Dave MacDonald or Brad Jackman.

Raina Petrov who works out of Berkeley’s Golden Gate Fields is fantastic. She’s figured out some really difficult lamenesses at my old barn – both the subtle NQR things and some big, complex problems. Can’t recommend her highly enough for her thoroughness, careful deductive reasoning, and clever insights on tricky lamenesses.

Circle Oak Equine does alot of work with performance horses and lameness- they are in Petaluma, so could be a bit of drive, but they are very good.

Another vote for Dr. Don Smith, the track vet at Golden Gate! Thorough and generous with his time. He travels and has most necessary equipment in his truck.

But maybe you don’t need a lameness specialist at all?