12 October 2011

Cruizer Lameness

This past weekend I visited home. I saw Cruizer every day, and was able to ride him twice. Well, sorta ride.

Those of you who have been reading for awhile have probably noticed that Cruizer experiences quite a lot of periods of lameness that are for the most part unexplained and seem to get better on their own with minimal intervention. On some occasions they have been determined to be caused by abscesses or bruises. At times they have been on the front end, sometimes in the back, and sometimes in the hind end... and sometimes seemingly everywhere. I have not been able to afford x rays or anything of that sort. He passed a vet check before we purchased him. There were a few areas of minimal concern on the pre purchase including off angles in his left front hoof, signs of future hock arthritis, and sensitivity over his "hunter bump," none of these were of great concern. I bought him on his fourth birthday, lightly started. He was never pushed or worked hard and was given lots of time off whenever he seemed to hit a growth spurt. The pre purchase also included x rays of (if my memory serves me right) all four legs from the knee/hock down, including hooves. Immediately after he got home we started him on MSM to keep his joints healthy, as well as biotin for his hooves. He has remained on MSM throughout the entire two and a half years I've had him, and is now on a higher dose (10,000 mg daily).

During his periods of lameness he has been evaluated by both farriers and veterinarians. He has had flexion tests multiple times, never showing anything of major concern. However, I've never been able to do anything more as far as lameness evaluation. I am trying to save money now to get it checked out but being a full time student its going to be quite some time before I have any amount of money saved to take him for further evaluation.

I forgot to be realistic and was hoping that he would magically be better when I visited home. Out in the pasture, he is striding out fully on all legs and is not limping, but he's not quite right. I decided to hop on bareback and take him for a spin in the outdoor, which at the time was rock hard. He was okay at the walk, although pretty cautious about where he was putting his feet. He wasn't really limping at the trot, but was definitely uncomfortable and reluctant to move. Our ride two days later was worse. He was very reluctant to move out at the walk. I only jogged for about five strides that day just to see how he felt, and he felt worse. I honestly don't think this is related to him being barefoot, but I am open to any suggestions. His feet honestly look pretty darn good.

One thing that has been pretty consistent for most of the time I've had him is that he doesn't stride out as far on his right hind as he does on the left. However, he has never had a limp relating to that leg. Even when he is sound and comfortable and passing flexion tests with no response whatsoever, that right hind doesn't really come forward as far as the other unless I really ask him to extent, which he does with no hesitation or signs of discomfort. I am puzzled.

He was briefly checked out by a massage therapist before I left who noted that he was tight in the right hip and stifle area and said his pelvis felt like it was out of line. I haven't been able to have him actually massaged or adjusted, but when I massage his hip/stifle with liniment he does get better.

I realize this is pretty disorganized and random but I'm really just at a loss as to what this could be or what to do. I can't afford to have it checked out further right now, which I know is not to his advantage but there really isn't anything I can do at the moment. For now, he is getting massaged by my  sister pretty regularly, getting his feet keratexed and oiled, and is being kept comfortable to the best of our abilities. He is not limping and his mood has not deteriorated at all. He still runs around like crazy with his buddies and is happy to do all of his normal horsey activities.

Some background info and what not:
2005 Appendix Quarter horse gelding. Stands between 17-17.1 hands currently.
Bought in 2009 standing barely 16.2 hands. Passed vet check with clean x rays and flexion tests.
Started lightly as a three year old, ridden for no more than 20 mins at a time, about three days a week until age four.
Upon purchase, began working lightly about 4-5 days a week, basic walk trot canter.
Experienced first lameness period about 5 months after purchase. Vet recommended Bute regimen and light work only.... conclusion was growing pains. He soon stood 16.3 hands. and grew two more blanket sizes and outgrew saddle tree.
Went barefoot in fall of 2010. His hoof wall had collapsed so much that he couldn't hold a shoe and was consistently uncomfortable. Has not had shoes on since, and has been happy to work and sound over all surfaces.
Work load gradually increased. He is now finished in hunter under saddle and showmanship. Always given days off and time to rest, particularly after hard work.
Diet: 10,000 mg MSM daily, Smartpak's SmartHoof supplement, coat supplement, combination of 12% sweet feed and Concept E pelleted feed by CPI, also free choice grass/alfalfa mix hay 24/7.

Here are some videos of him at a particularly bad point a few months ago, although this is not quite what he is showing now.

any suggestions anyone has I would really appreciate!


  1. Honestly? If you can't afford to have it checked out and he isn't getting noticeably worse quickly, you're probably already doing the best thing for him--just letting him hang out and be a horse.

  2. Hard to say what it could be. I agree with Aimee that if you can't afford a vet exam with all the bells and whistles good turnout, good supplements, and light work is probably the best thing for him.

    Hoof issues are always a first suspicion. But the evaluation of your therapist of the tight muscles might well be a major piece of the puzzle.

    Wish I could help more. On and off minor lamenesses are often some of the hardest to figure out.