Hind end weakness - WWYD

Magicmillbrook

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Sorry if this is a bit long, but I am after some advice/thoughts.

We purchased a rising 5 3/4 ID 2 years ago (nearly), newly imported from Ireland, good breeding, supposedly broken and working well and hunted, passed vetting, although vet remarked that his hind end was underdeveloped, but likely to build up with correct work.

- A few weeks later farrier commented that he had shivers (right hind), not picked up on vetting but seems intermittent.
- A month on later daughter started ridden work(having had to wait for saddler) daughter was having major problems with napping and cantering
- Spoke to vet and had physio out, she said he was very immature and uncoordinated, treat him like a newly broken 3 yo and take things slowly, vet agreed.
- 1 year later, hacking out but still very poor in canter, plunging and finding great difficulty, not happy with instructor who's advice was use more leg
- During this time constant loose stools
- Spoke to vet again, he took stool sample to test for blood serum (precursor to scoping for ulcers), came back fine, watched horse trotting up and on circles, no lameness or obv problems
- Tried coligone - 3 months later stools now firmer (not totally formed), only occasional looseness
- Changed instructors - new instructor agreed that horse not lame but not moving right, recommended an equine body worker who works with her physio
- Had equine body worker who said he seemed to be using stabilizing muscles for movement and was very tight through gluts and ham strings, gave lots of exercises to help stabilize and stretch
- 18 months into ownership (9 months or so of equine body work), walk and trot much better,will hack out (though still spooky), still can't canter, also sometimes falling in with front end on circle. Equine body worker felt he should have shown more improvement so recommended physio
- Had new physio out 3 weeks ago, again no lameness, over developed gluts, no restriction in mobility or pain response, some tightness through lumbar area but not 'terrible', but clearly not stepping under, this is affecting his front end and also putting strain on his hind suspensory ligaments at his fetlocks are dropping almost to the ground. Did some mobilizations work on his lumbar area and prescribed carrot stretches, she is back in 2 weeks.
- He also seems quite lethargic
- in the stable he seems to move around awkwardly
- in field at play he will canter and rear/buck, more now than he originally did but seems 'cumbersome'
- rests a hind leg a lot, rarely stands square
- Instructor said perhaps to try a bute trial to see if it was pain related.
- Teeth checked 6 monthly, saddle checked 3 monthly
- He lives out 24/7 spring summer, through winter he is stabled at night
- Fed ad lib hay, grass nuts, sugar beet, chaff, feedbalancer and linseed

Anyone had any experience of something similar? He will be 7 in March and he is still only walking, trotting and doing walk/trot poles he was purchased with a view to doing all RC activities and potential low level eventing. I have been googling too much, and have filled my head with EPMS, Kissing Spines, Ulcers - you name it. I will follow the Physio's instructions (highly respected equine physio who works at WHW) and follow this avenue through, but just wondering what avenue to try next if we still don't get any improvement.
 

Amymay

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I'd go with the simplest answere - horse is a shiverer.

I'd consider going for loa, and cut your losses. As long as he's happy at least he can be a field ornament....
 

Pearlsasinger

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This will probably sound off-the-wall , but, as your physio etc doesn't see to be having the expected effect and you are still somewhat concerned about his droppings, I would cut his feed back to just hay for 3 weeks or more and if there is improvement star adding the other ingredients back in, starting with the grass-nuts, especially if your sugar-beet is molassed. I would also check the ingredients of the balancer very carefully. If you would like to know more abut the rationale, feel free to PM, it could get long! But I do have experience of something similar.
 

Magicmillbrook

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Amymay - You may be right, although the vet & Physio don't seem to think the shivering is overly significant. He is such a lovely boy and would probably be perfectly happy as a field ornament. He is insured for LOU, although his cost it isn't realy an issue, my daughter couldn't have another horse ATM we don't have enough grazing, she would have to wait until one of the oldies popped their cloggs!
 

Goldenstar

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You need him worked up by a specialist vet who does work ups .
You need as much as possible some definitive answers .
If he's a shiverer you need to know this and only a vet can do this .
A bute trial is a good idea if the vet thinks it's appropriate .
You really need veterinary imput with physios in this sort of thing .
My vet and physio work up horses together sometimes this gives you a great all round view.
 

Ruth17

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Mine always rests one hind leg under him and I'm trying to teach him to stand square and starting hacking out to strengthen it. He is also rising 5. Now I'm worried his problem isn't just weakness :-(
 

khalswitz

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Exactly the same as my horse, except being older mine could physically canter. Tight gluts, tight iliopsoas and cranial pelvis, struggled to engage - and was originally very lethargic. I struggled with his weight, I struggled with schooling.

He is a shiverer, and has EPSM. He was diagnosed 9 months ago. Since changing his feed, I've seen a huge personality change, and suddenly he began to develop muscles he had never had!! 9 months after the change he has a top line, is starting to engage and work his hindquarters and get a proper bascule over fences, so hind end all improving. He went through a mad phase over the summer through to December where he suddenly went from lethargic to super sharp and very, very forward but he has now settled down again.

Dealing with his combo of EPSM and shivers has required LOTS of money on special feeding, regular Physio and chiro, regular dental checks (bad teeth can lead to a bad back so we play very careful), and lots and lots and lots of lessons and hours of schooling and hill work hacking (no meandering about). He is never going to have the best back end, but being short coupled makes it a little easier, and if we get to BE 100 which he has scope to do I'll be very happy.

Shivers, unlike stringhalt, if managed properly, only results in problems under saddle in severe cases - it's more problems with shoeing/stabling/handling and requiring more rugging/longer warmups and nore regular exercise. I'd get your vet out for a proper diagnosis and full dietary advice from an expert vet/nutritionist.

Any advice on managing a shiverer give us a shout - I've spoken to more experts and done more reading about the subject this year than I really wish I'd had to ;)

Eta: he still doesn't have a great canter - he's very straight hocked and bouncy, and if I don't watch he twists so he canters shoulders in ir quarters out. But he is a different horse to this time last year, and continually improving.
 
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Magicmillbrook

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Exactly the same as my horse, except being older mine could physically canter. Tight gluts, tight iliopsoas and cranial pelvis, struggled to engage - and was originally very lethargic. I struggled with his weight, I struggled with schooling.

He is a shiverer, and has EPSM. He was diagnosed 9 months ago. Since changing his feed, I've seen a huge personality change, and suddenly he began to develop muscles he had never had!! 9 months after the change he has a top line, is starting to engage and work his hindquarters and get a proper bascule over fences, so hind end all improving. He went through a mad phase over the summer through to December where he suddenly went from lethargic to super sharp and very, very forward but he has now settled down again.

Dealing with his combo of EPSM and shivers has required LOTS of money on special feeding, regular Physio and chiro, regular dental checks (bad teeth can lead to a bad back so we play very careful), and lots and lots and lots of lessons and hours of schooling and hill work hacking (no meandering about). He is never going to have the best back end, but being short coupled makes it a little easier, and if we get to BE 100 which he has scope to do I'll be very happy.

Shivers, unlike stringhalt, if managed properly, only results in problems under saddle in severe cases - it's more problems with shoeing/stabling/handling and requiring more rugging/longer warmups and nore regular exercise. I'd get your vet out for a proper diagnosis and full dietary advice from an expert vet/nutritionist.

Any advice on managing a shiverer give us a shout - I've spoken to more experts and done more reading about the subject this year than I really wish I'd had to ;)

Eta: he still doesn't have a great canter - he's very straight hocked and bouncy, and if I don't watch he twists so he canters shoulders in ir quarters out. But he is a different horse to this time last year, and continually improving.
Mmm, did your vet come to the EPMS diagnosis or did you have to push for a test?
 

hoorayhenry

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My daughters event horse started struggling with her canter,putting bucks in because she found it hard,we had acupuncture for her back which maybe helped a little,then took her to a new physio at Sheepgate who said her right hind was weak and wobbly and her muscles tight allover,told us to do raised pole work in hand in walk only every day upto 30 mins as well as ridden work,no tight circles,we noticed a difference in a week,no bucking,took her back to physio today,one month on and she could not believe the difference in her,stomach muscle had really lifted and she was not tight anywhere.This is a daily routine to be done forever but we have our horse back and looking forward to eventing this season,she got to novice last year.If I had not seen the results I would not believe pole work could be so effective,please give it a try,the added bonus is you get fit too,helped my lower back pain.
 

Jules19

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Another suggestion: maybe look into getting a consult with Donna Blinman, she is a holistic vet and tends to deal with these multi symptomatic cases from a slightly different viewpoint. Can't say I have had to use her but have heard good things....
 

Magicmillbrook

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My daughters event horse started struggling with her canter,putting bucks in because she found it hard,we had acupuncture for her back which maybe helped a little,then took her to a new physio at Sheepgate who said her right hind was weak and wobbly and her muscles tight allover,told us to do raised pole work in hand in walk only every day upto 30 mins as well as ridden work,no tight circles,we noticed a difference in a week,no bucking,took her back to physio today,one month on and she could not believe the difference in her,stomach muscle had really lifted and she was not tight anywhere.This is a daily routine to be done forever but we have our horse back and looking forward to eventing this season,she got to novice last year.If I had not seen the results I would not believe pole work could be so effective,please give it a try,the added bonus is you get fit too,helped my lower back pain.
The exercises from the equine body worker include daily pole work to get him using his abdominals, he will use them now, its the stepping under and using his back that he can't/wont do. We do similar ones with my 5yo cob and the difference in him has been amazing.

Shys mum, we didn't have a clue about shivers either until we met Bill. It is so disappointing for my daughter, she lost her horse of a lifetime to colic (aged 7) before getting Bill, I know she is worried about something being seriously wrong and loosing him too, plus she misses just being able to go off for a blast.
 

burtie

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I would treat like an EPSM horse for a few months, this means a very low starch diet (soak hay for over 16 hours), no hard feed other than things like fast fibre and possilbe basic grass nuts, lots of oil and a vit E (plus selinium if needed) supplement. This diet may not help but it is very unlikely to do any harm!

I moved mine onto a strict EPSM type diet about 12- 18 months ago after a number of minor problems with hind end mobility and the difference is astounding. I never had a 'formal' diagnosis as symptoms weren't serious but the diet has made a very noticeable difference.
 

mstep

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Hi millbrook,

Sounds startling similar to my RID - he's been weak behind since I bought him nearly 3 years ago. He scoped with grade 3 ulcers 2 years ago, cleared up with a course of gastroguard, but then suffered with hind gut acidosis.
He's had loose droppings for the last 18 months and had a nephrosplenic entrapment in sept last year needing surgery to fix it, complicated by grade 2 ulcers again!
Fibre has been his main diet but after the surgery I started looking around for less processed feeds - I've just started feeding graze on & equilibra - it's made such a difference and we're only 1/2 way through the bag - his droppings are firming up and he's looking better than ever :0)

He's currently on a stubs scoop of graze on, 2 cups of equilibra, 2 cups of micronised linseed, egusin 250 twice a day and I'll be adding fibregest after pay day.

We both have regular Chiro sessions every 3 months which have helped too.

Definitely worth investigating hind gut issues :)
 

khalswitz

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Mmm, did your vet come to the EPMS diagnosis or did you have to push for a test?
I had to push. And tbh after his diagnosis I got most of my advice from elsewhere!!

Mine gets ERS pellets, Fast Fibre, a stud balancer (increased protein levels are good for his muscle problems) and Alfa-A Oil, with sunflower oil, a digestive supp for his loose droppings and a vit e and selenium supp. He also won't touch soaked hay, so is on haylage, but it is low sugar, nice stuff. On that, he is shoeable even in the cold, although I tend to give him a good ridden warmup beforehand to help, and we shoe on rubber matting to help his balance. He also lives out 24/7 to prevent muscle tightening in the box, and is exercised daily to stop build up of glycogen in his muscles.

A really good article from H&H there - basically, no one is really 100% sure whether it will degenerate, whether it will improve, how bad it might get etc. It used to be mixed up with EPSM and string halt and wobbler's and a variety of other things so the records aren't very dependable. But it CAN degenerate, so I would have a long think before going through the expensive and tiresome management of it for such a young horse, with already fairly severe signs, that may get a lot worse.

I'm very lucky - my lad is rising 10, and not too bad now his diet is right. But I wouldn't touch another shiverer with a bargepole - it's too unknown. they *can* be fine, and never have it impair their ridden work at all, but equally it can degenerate to where they can't jump or back up at all, and can't be shod or trimmed behind.
 

YasandCrystal

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Another suggestion: maybe look into getting a consult with Donna Blinman, she is a holistic vet and tends to deal with these multi symptomatic cases from a slightly different viewpoint. Can't say I have had to use her but have heard good things....
This is exactly what I was going to post. Donna is not only a vet, but also an osteopath and acupuncturist - she also uses herbs. The cheapest way to get a full diagnosis is to send your horse to her for a week or 2. Brilliant lady! And she is only at Higham near Newmarket so close enough to you.
 

paulineh

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You have had vets and Physio both say nothing wrong. I would get him seen by a good Equine Chiropractor. If your Physio is saying he is tight then something needs releasing. That person Donna sounds to be the person.

You could also try lunging with either an Equiami or such like to get him to stretch long and low
 

cptrayes

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Have you xrayed his neck? I had a congenital wobbler who didn't 'break' until he was ten years old, but when xrayed it was clear he was born with it.

With the dropping fetlocks, has anyone considered DSLD?

Hope you find an answer, you've had a tough time.
 

Gleeful Imp

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Yes, I have experience too, slightly different issue but I am over 2 years in now, with no diagnosis. Not helped by fact the problem is intermittent, and when I finally found a vet who could see it, she had also tweaked her suspensory so we have lost 5 months whilst we sort that.

Her hind leg problems reoccurred recently, I have had a thermal image done both pre and post exercise which clearly shows problems with her pelvis exacerbated by exercise. Thankfully it shows nothing on the suspensory so I am hoping that when we go to the vets on Friday, the results, together with a set of back shoes worn square at the toe means we will get somewhere.

I really feel your pain and frustration, I bought my mare to do a very specific job and cleared my savings out for her, and also to fill the gap left by my lovely lad. I've had her 2 and a half years and it's been heart break followed by hope by heartbreak, all I want is a diagnosis!

Ps there is a much longer story, I just wanted you to know I share your pain.
 

Magicmillbrook

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Thanks for all the responses, some useful food for thought. Not ready to write him off quite yet and so far have not involved insurance, I guess if we go down then xray/thermal imaging route we would. Diet wise we are almost on an EPMs regime, his hay is soaked and we give him as much as he will eat. He then has 2 x daily feeds of grass nuts, sugar beet, linseed (2 cups per day) plus feedbalancer and coligone, since being on this diet his droppings have improved markedly. Interestingly, for the amount of feed he has he never puts on weight, but then again he doesnt look poor and his feet and coat are very good.

Re fetlocks, physio thinks its because he is using them to propell himself forwards, rather than stepping under, I will quizz her when she next visits in 2 weeks, if she doesn't see any improvement I will see if she will do a joint visit with one of the senior vets at our practice and discuss testing for EPMS, ulcers x rays and imaging (I bet my vet loves me!)or perhaps investigate the holistic vet.

Horses are such a worry, but we wouldnt be without them.

Daughter and I have talked long and hard about his issues and feel that if he is not right by 8 then perhaps we will hang up the towel, besides, lots of folk have told us ID's don'nt mature until around 8 anyway (straw clutching). If he was a better hack there would perhaps be the option of loaning him for light hacking/schooling, he is so quiet and lovely in all other respects.
 
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