Update: Thank you everyone for your gracious replies. The outcome was sadly, quite unexpected. As several of you suggested, I did ask for a referral to our local teaching hospital, and it went great. Everyone was very understanding. While waiting, my horse deteriorated to the point where the farrier was concerned and reached out. He noted difficulty standing on the left hind leg, a strange rocking motion to the front feet, and the left hind sinking. When I reported this to my vet, he was able to fit us in the following week in a cancellation spot.
Unfortunately, the appointment was soul crushing. My horse almost sat on the poor vet during flexions, and looked about to collapse. We both could see how hard he was trying to stay upright. The same original severe lameness was present on the left hind, though worse. There was trouble traveling in trot in a straight line (no issue on circles), tripping, and when asked to canter (his best gait) he would canter almost in place like a pogo stick and swap leads, or bunny-hop. Vet thought at this point he must have a broken hip or pelvis, and said I should just take him for a bone scan due to the severity. But then as we walked up the hill, he noted an abnormal gait behind. Upon entering the barn, vet also noted his odd stance. He was holding his leg in front and off to the side, and tilting a bit. He was been doing this for quite a few weeks as I think I’ve written about, but I thought he was just resting the injured limb. He also noted muscle wasting on the left, and asked if I noticed behavioral changes. I explained he was more panicky and spooky, but it wasn’t consistent. For example, we had to sedate him 2x for the farrier, but he was perfect the other times. I personally suspected ulcers for a while now, so kind of attributed the behavior to that anyway. At that point, he said forget the bone scan-he looks neurologic. He said he suspects EPM as his prime candidate, as the symptoms have been coming and going to varying degrees, and the issues are all primarily on the left. However, the other potential diagnoses are neuro Lyme, Wobblers, and EDM. He did neck rads, a spinal tap, a ultrasound of the pelvis and hip region ( to see if he could see anything that might warrant the bone scan after all) and took blood for Lyme. I already did vit E with spring shots and while on the low end of normal, I was told it wasn’t a cause for huge concern. Aside from possible narrowing channels in the neck, vet didn’t think wobblers as there was no associated arthritis. He is sending the radiographs out to a specialist anyway.
I am so devastated. My fear is all tests coming back negative, and not knowing where to go. I cannot afford a bone scan after all the diagnostics recently done, but I am paranoid we are missing something else, like maybe a weird SI injury or stifle injury. He has already been on rest for quite a while, and has been getting worse, so letting him decompress from his already low-key life seems like it would be fruitless, if it doesn’t result in even more injuries.
The reality is, unless this is something that can respond to treatment (in which the last of my money would be spent on that), I feel like this is both a safety issue and a quality of life issue. He is currently unsafe to handle behind due to the collapsing, has become reactive with the farrier to the point of sedation (which I wouldn’t want to do with a neurologic horse moving forward anyway,) is likely falling and having faulty proprioception evidenced by the constant pulling of shoes and injuries aside from the recent weird hind-end issue, and all of this has gotten worse with time off. I wouldn’t even feel okay retiring him to a beautiful field of grass at this point or to my backyard at this point because someone still needs to handle him. It also doesn’t rule out him falling on another horse, getting more injuries, or crashing through a fence.
I guess I don’t know what my point really is. I could really use any kind words. Insight. Opinions. Stories. Anything. I am just so darn sad.
Thanks for reading.
I am looking for some advice as to how I should handle my horse’s current situation. I’ve posted about him before, but I will give a run-down regarding what has been going on, and it is rather long. In October, my 5 year old gelding started with a right front lameness, that ended up with an MRI in January after several visits and various different diagnostics from our big-time lameness specialist. My horse was not in work at the time and lived outside 24/7 with access to a stall. He was diagnosed with an enlarged DDFT and some other minor abnormalities. Vet thought if he was put in eggbar shoes with a wedge and receive some time off, he will heal completely. Upon recheck in February, he was 100% sound. I was told I could start riding again at this point. I rode at the walk only for about 3 weeks, but my horse broke into a trot on one of the rides. He felt lame, so I got a video. He was VERY lame on his left hind. It was so bad, the vet thought he might have broken his coffin bone (I wasn’t told his level of concern until afterwards). When I tried to get said vet out, I was told he was booked out for 5 weeks, but I could truck in, which I did, the following week. The exam pinpointed the lameness to the left hind hoof, and x-rays showed a giant subsolar bruise. I was told to give him a week off and resume riding, if he was sound. I ended up giving him 2 weeks off, and he is still lame, though quite improved. However, I’m really worried. He never rests his right hind, is constantly resting that left hind. Sometimes he even holds it forward and off to the side. When I pick his feet, he acts like he can’t get back onto his right hind fast enough, and immediately rests his left hind, though doesn’t seem perturbed while I’m actually holding up the right hind. Most concerning of all, I have seen that left leg, for lack of better terminology, buckle. My vet can’t get out for another almost 5 weeks. He does not feel like this is an emergency, but I feel like there is more going on that just some giant subsolar bruise, especially given that his lameness is on the outside when being lunged (indicating soft tissue.)
If you’ve stayed with me this far, my question is ultimately, should I just take him to our local teaching hospital, request a second opinion with another local lameness vet (without the same excellent reputation) or wait it out for our normal lameness specialist to come out? I feel like these 5 week waits with little bit of diagnostics here and there are not only killing me financially ($160 farm call alone), but are not in my horse’s best interest as far as his long-term prognosis. This same vet used to do a battery of diagnostics if I requested, and a thorough, 2 or 3 hour lameness exam. Now I feel like I have to be really aggressive to get the diagnostics I want and he is very hurried. For reference, the DDFT issue wasn’t caught until the 3rd visit, after I insisted on an ultrasound. I don’t know that the etiquette would be as far as handling taking my horse elsewhere, without burning bridges, since I use this practice for everything else. Maybe these waits are normal and I am just being impatient. I’m really lost and have been losing sleep. Does anybody have an words of wisdom or guidance for me? Thanks so much!