Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Frustrated Again

I am not going to recap the Jimmy Wofford clinic today. I had every intention of doing so, but something else came up. To prove I was actually there, here is a picture from it.

Jimmy is the guy in the foreground, obviously.

Sorry. I will do it this week, but I'm just really frustrated right now. Izzy's follow-up chiro/acupressure appointment was yesterday morning. She reacted so poorly to the last one that we added a magnesium supplement and a vitamin/mineral supplement, let her take it pretty easy for two weeks, and decided to try again.


Izzy was WAY worse yesterday than she was the first time. We got less reactions as far as rearing and leaping just because she was even easier to read. She normally stands quietly. Not so yesterday--as soon as Toni would touch her, Izzy would start pawing and shaking her head and stress-biting the lead rope. She was fussy about everything and wouldn't let Toni get anywhere near her rear end. Period. Forget it.

Izzy didn't even want to stand still. If Toni moved, Izzy moved away from her. So weird.

I just want to scream. Something is obviously wrong. Izzy doesn't even like to take her right lead when she's loose and she fusses about either lead under saddle. She doesn't want to go forward under saddle. At all. The saddle is fine--I'm pretty in tune with her 'I hate this saddle' reaction and that's not what she's giving me. Instead, it's a total reluctance to push off her hind end at all. Something is wonky and she doesn't want to aggravate it.

I'd say she's just being pushy except, as I mentioned, she's the same when she's loose. She doesn't want to go forward, doesn't engage her hind end, and she's a horse that's pretty happy in her work most of the time.

She isn't lame. She isn't off. She isn't even short. All legs are functioning well. She's not really an arthritis candidate, and even if she were, she's not acting like an arthritic horse. Her back under the saddle is fine--the problem is in her lower back somewhere. Over the kidneys, basically. Her hips are fine. She likes a good, hard curry.

Every time I groom her, she scootches over to the left, pushes her right hind leg as far forward as possible and reaches back with her nose to indicate it. I've tried undoing the crossties to let her scratch something--no. She just wanders off to eat. She wants me to fix something and I don't even know what it is.

We tried cross tying her to see what would happen. She showed the same response she's been giving me (something's wrong, mom. fix it), but still didn't want Toni anywhere close to her. Toni stepped back and handed me a soft brush out of my grooming kit. Under her instructions, I worked up and down Izzy whole leg, which she really seemed to like, complete with licking and chewing. Then Toni tried to have me set my hand on Izzy's lower back with my other hand on her stifle. Izzy tried to cow kick me. We tried just using the soft brush. Same response. I stepped back and looked at Toni. We just stood there for a couple minutes, trying to give Izzy a break.

Finally, Toni looked at Izzy and said, "If you want to be done, you need to start licking and chewing."

Izzy started licking and chewing almost as if on cue. I swear that horse understands english. We decided to be done. I stood by Izzy's head and was talking to Toni, who patted Izzy on the neck. That was fine--Izzy doesn't mind Toni touching her as long as she isn't doing anything. We Toni started to rub her neck, Izzy pinned her ears and started pawing.

So. What now? Toni is just as confused as I am. She's never hurt Izzy in any way. Izzy does not usually act like this AT ALL. I can curry pretty much her entire body and get no negative reaction. She likes it. I guess now I can brush her right hind leg more and see if that does anything but otherwise I'm totally baffled.

I could call the vet out and say, "Hey, my horse is totally sound and in fabulous condition. I have no reason to suspect anything is wrong but something isn't right. Will you please charge me several thousand dollars to tell me that she's fine?"

Seriously. No heat, no pain, no swelling, no unsoundness. She doesn't even stock up in her stall. A fellow boarder mentioned that she's a mare in spring and maybe it's hormonal and she needs more magnesium. I could go for that, except that she's been on magnesium for two weeks and nothing has changed.

So... any ideas for the completely clueless owner? Really. If you have ever owned a mare, please contribute an idea. Even a dumb one--it's more than I've got right now.


  1. Here are my random thoughts/questions.

    Is she in heat? Or close to being in heat? Perhaps her lower back gets sensitive when she's ovulating and/or in heat? Have you tracked her cycles? It's not unheard of. Maybe putting her on ReguMate or something similar would be worth a shot.

    Could it be a kidney issue since the kidneys are right underneath the apparent problem area? Could it be something else entirely that is internal, not muscular or skeletal? You have already ruled out ulcers, correct?

    Have you tried having another chiropractor work on her? Nothing against Toni, but maybe Izzy just doesn't like her. Also not unheard of, lol.

    I'll be back if I think of anything else. :)

  2. I'm so sorry you're going through this. It is such a helpless feeling.

    My suspicion would also be mare/cycle related, with the exception that you said she has some issues with her leads. My last mare Ebony was intermittently sore over her kidneys as well, and it did seem to correspond with her heat cycle. Magnesium didn't make any difference at all...I never had a chiro out, though I think she probably would have benefitted from it. Eb also had stifle issues-since she was a pleasure horse I never really looked into it. Could that be an issue for Izzy as well? You said she's sound though...maybe really watch her at the walk and trot on the lunge and make sure her back hooves are tracking up at the same rate.

    Sorry, again. I know you will figure it out. Have you read any of Linda Ttellington-Jones' books? I've found some of her TTouch excercises to be really helpful. Good luck:) I'd tell you not to worry but I know that's impossible with our babies.

  3. Will she willingly and easily stretch her hind legs behind her? If not, check the hocks. How about in front of her toward her? If not, check the stifles.

    Just for quick reference, check out the photos:

  4. Hmm, that does sound frustrating, sorry to hear about it.

    I showed a mare who got seriously crampy when she was coming into season. Even though my (male) vet tried to convince me that mares don't get crampy, I never believed him. About a week before she came into season and during, she would swish her tail violently at times even just standing in her stall, and undersaddle start swapping leads behind every couple of strides or so and "float" her hind end (not a buck, not a kick, just lifting her butt as though she was setting up for a lead change, know what I mean?). All I could think was I knew just how she felt! Anyway, I would basically just trail ride her during that time til she started acting normal. Obviously that's not what Izzy is doing, but she could be expressing her pain in other ways.

    If I had to guess (and believe me, I am no vet), it sounds like she's got something going on in her lower back, which doesn't show up as lameness or even shortness, but sometimes shows up as a reluctance to do work. I cringe at the thought of having the vet out to examine a "sound" horse myself, but you're also feeling like something's not quite right, and you know your horse well enough that I think you should trust that gut reaction and at least have her evaluated for lower back issues.

    Good luck, I hope you get to the bottom of it. So tough to figure these things out sometimes.

  5. If it's seasonal, a friend of mine swears by Regumate to help her mare out with hormonal changes.
    I don't know either. And I'd hesitate also, to call a vet out for a sound horse that you know isn't right. There's the money, and there's also the problem of a busy vet thinking "crazy owner". Still, you know her better than anyone, and if it doesn't resolve, you have plenty of 'signs' to give the vet.

    I was brushing my horse, who loves grooming. He suddenly lifted his head and raised a rear hoof as if to kick. I'd been brushing his butt. As it turns out, he had a bad bruise from getting bit in pasture play, couldn't see it, but could feel it once he let me touch him again. (I think this falls into the dumb idea category, but throwing it out there.)

    I hope it resolves quickly and turns out to be a "no big deal" thing.

  6. My first thought was kidneys..maybe kidney infection? I had an older gelding that would get really sore in the lower back and wouldn't let the chiro touch him either. Which was weird because he was a total touch me now whore. :P He wasn't off either, just really pissy under saddle. I ate it and had the vet out, and it was an infection. A few antibiotics and he was back to normal. Just an idea...good luck!

  7. I echo all the comments to trust your gut. Every time I have ever thought a horse of mine was acting weird or off, even if it wasn't an obvious injury or stiffness... it always turned out to be something.
    Seems like she's giving you lots of cues that "something" is up... it's just not obvious what... I had a gelding who got really foot sore and in his attempts to alleviate his foot pain ended up basically having weird lower back problems. Took forever to find it and since he was basically "bracing" against the foot pain, he was equally off on both sides, so he jogged out sound... Not saying it's Izzy's feet, just that often the expression of the pain is disconnected one or two degrees (or six?) from the actually issue... I'd say keep palpitating, taking her temp (to make sure an infection isn't raging) and doing whole body stretches and checks to see if anything seems to be changing.. then consider the vet..
    In terms of hormones.. her ovaries could be whacking out, which can be really painful, but your vet an determine rather easily. also, you know how I feel about Regumate.. that's always an option if this seems like an ongoing cycle issue, though it doesn't quite seem like that to me yet.

  8. You may want to try tranquilizing her so the chiro can work on her. You will have to be especially careful that if she tries to throw a fit while sleepy that she does not lose coordination and hurt you, the chiro, or herself, but it might be worth a try. Good luck!

  9. I have nothing to suggest that no one else has said already but I must say your impression of calling the vet was hilarious. Because that's pretty much what they do. Hope you can figure out what is wrong :(

  10. Back, ovulation? Will she let you handle/clean her udder? - oddly enough she may be asking for that. Can you feel around yourself on her hindquarters/lower back/back legs - if she'll let you - and check for tenderness, muscle spasms, etc. She's telling you it's in that leg or the structures above that leg, I think. If she's extending the leg forwards, could very possibly be that hock - hock x-rays would tell you something.

  11. So sorry to hear about this! :-( I think you should re-read this post, because it definitely doesn't seem like "nothing." If Izzy's so sensitive and you think she has a lower back issue going on, I would definitely have the vet out. It could be a sacro-iliac problem (that's the first thing that I thought of) or any number of other issues, but it definitely needs to be addressed. I know it sucks, because vet visits are never cheap, but just look at her list of symptoms: won't engage hind end under saddle or at liberty, doesn't want to pick up the right lead under saddle or at liberty, sensitive to having her lower back touched, etc. There's clearly something going on that's making her uncomfortable.

    Like I mentioned before, it sounds a lot like whatever is wrong with Salem -- the vet had to sedate him in order to adjust his lower back, and even then Salem was not too pleased with it. At the time, Dr. Bob said he couldn't say for sure what it was without diagnostics.

  12. My first reaction was hock...while it may seem impossible for a young horse to arthritic, mine has a completely fused left hock and he's not even 5. We discovered it when he got cast (it lit up on the bone scan of his hind end when we thought his pelvis was fractured so we xrayed everything back there). Several months before that accident I noticed her was being REALLY difficult and wouldnt push through on that leg, we thought it was a training issue...nope! His hock was fusing and it hurt him to bend. It caused tension in his back, buns, neck...Now all that I was feeling makes perfect sense! Hock fusion is really painful for some horses and compensating for ouchy hock(s) could explain all sort of discomfort all through her back/hind end. I never xrayed his hocks when I vetted him as a yearling, so I would have really never known about this otherwise. Just somethin to chew on, I'm obviously not a vet :P

  13. I would definitely go with something cycle/hormonal related. Maybe she has a cyst or something abnormal with her ovaries that is causing her pain or changes to her uterine lining. Since it's spring maybe her hormone levels or cycles are out of balance and she is just especially tight and uncomfortable. It definitely doesn't sound like nothing. Good luck!! I hope you both feel better soon :-)

  14. Hmm, seems if it was Hock/stifle related, Izzy would be showing at least a toe drag...and since she's not off, I'm questioning that, which was what I first thought. How stoic is she? I know she's pretty 'verbal' with her back/saddle fitting.
    That is very frustrating. She is asking for something, you will figure it out. If it dissipates and then returns, maybe you can link it better with her cycle?

  15. Hock problems will usually manifest themselves as back problems. Horses do not have to be old or seem arthritic to have changes going on in their hocks. I would get the vet to do a simple lameness exam and if they don't come up with anything else have her hocks x-rayed. It will cost you a few hundred dollars but it will give you peace of mind and you could go on forever wondering. Good luck!

  16. never dealt with a mare myself, so I cannot comment on whether her going into heat could be the problem.

    However, try acupuncture as an option. Izzy may have to be tranquilized first, but a good acupuncture vet can do that. It would be ideal to combine that with a chiropractic adjustment too.

    Using points on the body, the acupuncturist can usually find out where the pain is. I highly recommend it.

    Also asked...did we rule out ulcers?

  17. Consider ulcers. I know it seems weird, but when you first described her symptoms under saddle, that was Solo to a T this winter. Didn't want to go forward. Would NOT lift his back and engage hind end, hung on the left rein like a dead weight. Lots and LOTS of back and hindquarter pain, kicked (this horse NEVER kicks) in response to belly palpation.

    Within two days of starting ulcerguard treatment, pain went away. So that's my two cents.

  18. Ulcers. I have the exact same story. My gelding was SOOOO naughty for the chiropractor and the body worker. He would charge forward, bite anything in sight, try to kick, anything to stop the touching. He'd always been touchy about brushing, but we could maintain safety at least.
    The whole reason I brought the chiro out was because he wouldn't move forward, wouldn't engage his hind end, and would kick out at leg aides.
    The final straw was when he took a very nasty bite out of my chiropractor when he attempted to adjust his left ribcage. The chiropractor said that we were obviously dealing with something bigger than his bones, horses LIKE being worked on for the most part, this just wasn't normal
    I had the vet out the next week and she immediately diagnosed ulcers. He did a month of gastragard and is now on a supplement and a slow feeder to keep the ulcers under control. The difference in his general outlook on life is huge. He was generally sort of a grump and would often just kind of "check out", he hasn't really shown that since he started the treatment.
    I would look into it...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...