It’s been hot, hot, hot! We’ve been enjoying the sunny days and warm evenings (sometimes, it’s too hot – but I’m not going to complain) We’ve had good days and some not so great days over these last few weeks; one minute we are planning days out and the next we are planning long term box rest due to lameness. Anyone who says’s owning a horse is easy, obviously doesn’t know the half of it!

24 Hours later: Planning days out, to Box Rest

western chestnut horses legs

They say everything can change within 24hrs, and this month we certainly found that out. One minute we were planning trips out to shows and hacks with friends. The next I was planning a box rest regime for lameness and rehab for the next 3 months.

As you may know, Toby was diagnosed with arthritis in both hocks. Although it’s not the end of his riding career, it was still a shock to find that out. We put a treatment/management plan into place and focused on getting him more comfortable.

After 4 weeks of Cartrophen injections and an injection of Arthramid, the test would be how well the farrier could get to Toby’s hind feet to trim them. Thankfully, the farrier was able to pick up both hind feet, trim, rasp and shape them without Toby even taking any notice. This was just the news I needed to hear.

I spoke to the vet, and he agreed it was great news and wanted to come down the following week, just to do a quick “lameness” work up and see how well Toby was doing. If you ever think that your horse may be suffering from arthritis, contact your vet for advice before taking any actions.

Never count your chickens…

horse trot up lameness examination

The following week, the vet came down, and we got Toby to do various trotting exercises. Both on hard ground and in the arena, to see how well his hocks were coping. All was looking good until the vet picked up on how little Toby was wanting to step forward with his hind legs. He wasn’t sure it was hock related and mentioned Suspensory Ligament Disease (or PSD). He suggested bringing Toby to the surgery for scans, nerve blocking and x-rays and even mentioned a possible operation and rehab.

I was quite shocked by this, as Toby has not really done any really hard work or training in his career and I don’t do any jumping or cross country with him either.

The following week, we went to the surgery and I watched the vet put Toby through his paces. They nerve blocked both suspensory ligaments, but there wasn’t really much change in his way of going… not enough to warrant surgery anyway.

From Better to Worse, to better again!

horse owner and vet lameness

The vet then nerve blocked his hocks, to see if they were still causing the lack of impulsion and there was an improvement. Looking like it is hock related after all. With all the nerve-blocking behind though, Toby then began showing signs of slight unsoundness on the front end, not lame as such more footsore.

He is barefoot at the moment, and although he has super feet, he can sometimes struggle on rough and stony ground. The vet decided to nerve block his front feet to check if it was foot or joint-related. I was so pleased to see Toby trotting around on soft and hard ground freely and flicking his toes!

They x-rayed both front feet to check the joints and the only thing they noticed was how thin-soled he is… no wonder he struggles on rough terrain. The vet’s verdict was he just needs some front shoes to lift his soles off the ground. Again, if you ever have any concerns about your horse due to lameness or way of going; contact your vet, farrier or equestrian professional for advice before taking any serious actions.

Plan of action…

Toby the appaloosa horse

Once Toby was back home, I reassessed his diet plan and made a few tweaks. As the vet advised that he should drop

50kg. I made the decision to get a grazing muzzle too. This is something I’ve put off for a long time. Not because I’m “anti-muzzle” or anything like that, I know they can cause other issues with teeth and sores. To avoid this, I’ve had this muzzle correctly fitted and his teeth will be regularly monitored for any uneven wear. Losing weight will definitely help his hocks and feet. Muzzles aren’t for everyone, and I wouldn’t advise that you also use a muzzle for your horse’s weight loss. If you’re looking to make a change to your horses’ diet for any reason, be that weight loss or anything else, talk to an equine nutritionist or your vet first.

Emma equestrianFor now, we are just doing plenty of walking in hand, with no riding to reduce the chances of lameness. Until the farrier can get down to fit some shoes. The farrier looked at the x-rays with the vet, they both agreed that normal basic shoes will be fine. They’ll lift his soles off the ground.

Once we have some front shoes on, we can start hacking out for a week or two before getting back into training. Unfortunately, it means no lessons for us this month, but all being well, we will be able to attend at least one show before the summer ends! Fingers crossed!





Update: 17th July 2019

New shoes on & back out enjoying riding again!

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Emma Barrett

Author: Emma Barrett

Emma has been riding for 20+ years. She started off riding dressage, with a small amount of jumping. With Toby at her side she’s been building up her confidence in riding again after loosing it a few years ago. She & Toby are hoping to get out to some western shows this year. She also works full time, plus run a business with her partner and enjoys modifying cars and attending car shows.

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