stringhalt/shivers query!

Stormhillpilgrim

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6 January 2011
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103
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South East
Hi all,
Hoping for some advice here on my old ex-steeplechaser Thoroughbred. Typical ex-racer, bonkers but sweet!

This horse kind of landed in my lap 10 years ago and from the day I got him he did this funny thing with his back legs. This would be in the field, stable and tied up on yard whilst grooming and tacking up etc. He would pick one of his back legs up really high, turn and look at it (quite the balancing act) and either leave it hanging there for about 5 mins or kick forward with it quite violently. Some days he do it constantly others not at all and never when riding.

No one ever mentioned to me that he did anything like this and the first time he did it, I panicked and called the vet thinking he had colic. Obviously it wasn't and after looking online for a while I came to the conclusion it was most likely stringhalt. My farrier has also confirmed my suspicions.

Anyway, last year out on a hack we went for a trot on a grassy track and his right back leg felt like it kept collapsing underneath him, so I got off and walked him home. He is 22 now and around that time he also started dozing off quite regularly in the stable and nearly falling over (did fall once - thankfully ok just a bit stiff). He would also do this if once you were on him you stood and had a chat with someone, quite worrying really! Just before this he also apparently collapsed in the field and had some sort of fit, vet couldn't find anything wrong, even after bloods!

I stopped riding him after the collapsing leg thing and he has been retired no for about 8 months. I only lunge him for about 10 mins in walk and trot twice a week. His back legs look a little weak but I am not sure if this is due to his condition or lack of work and fitness?

My question is, have I done the right thing retiring him as I know he is not that old compared to some that are fine and still being ridden?

Also if I have done the wrong thing what is the best way to bring a horse back into work with stringhalt or is it impossible?

Sorry about the essay. Have posted this on Veterinary too and after lloking at some other related posts am now wondering if it might be shivers???

Thanks
 

dotty1

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22 March 2005
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Glos
To me it sounds more like shivering. Stringhalt is constant, more or less noticable in different paces, usually very noticable in walk though.
I used to know a tb who was a shiverer, it only happened when he was standing and he would lift his leg really high and wiggle it around before slaming it down before to stop him falling over. I think he was totally unaware he was doing it. It didn't affect his work in any way though.
 

horseriderdeb

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31 October 2006
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372
That is shivers. My shire horse has it and does exactly the same. I describe it as looking like a dog cocking his leg up to go to the loo. He also has stringhalt
 

chestnut cob

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24 November 2004
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14,996
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Shropshire
My horse has shivers and he does what you describe, though mine has it mildly. Occasionally (maybe once a fortnight, that I see) he will snatch one particular back leg up and leave it hovering in the air. He usually puts it back down after no more than 5 seconds but he does lose his balance a bit while it's in the air, as he struggles to put his weight onto the other back leg. I've also noticed that if he gets worked up about something (even noticing something in the distance), his whole back end shivers. The best way to describe that is like a little tremor going through his HQs.

I loan my horse, had him for 2.5 years, and his owners told me he was diagnosed at about age 4 (he will be 16 this year). He apparently hasn't got any worse since the diagnosis and if anything, I would say he has improved in this last 12-18 months. However...he also has other medical conditions which I think make the shivers symptoms appear worse. Now the other condition has been treated, all I am left with is the mild shivers. I gauge how mine is by the farrier - when I see my farrier, he always tells me how easy or difficult he was to shoe behind the last time, and how he currently thinks his shivers is affecting him. I found that if he isn't in consistent work then the shivers seem to get worse, so I try to keep him in regular work. He had a holiday this winter but I made sure he was turned out every day, and in March he will be out 24/7/365 which should also help. I have to be careful with feed too - I have cut out cereals and sugars as much as possible. He seizes up if he has them and actually looks lame behind. Take him off them and it goes away. So, he just gets high fibre chaff and high fibre nuts. No molassed sugar beet, no competition or conditioning mixes.

As for bringing back into work, it depends on what you want to do with him. Personally I would spend some time long reining, lunging and working in hand so that he becomes more supple and starts to build the correct muscle for ridden work. I'd start the ridden work as just hacking in straight lines and take it from there.
 

topclass

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12 January 2011
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309
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Anywhere my horses are is home
My clydesdale has shivers but to be honest it's very mild he's only 18 and ive had him 3 years and only twice in all of that time has he actually had a problem I do ride him, I have jumped him and done dressage with him at novice level and never had a problem.
 

RolyPolyPony

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5 December 2008
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Cornwall
My 25yr old tb x wb has shivers. It's bad enough that he can't hold his back leg up to have hoof picked out, trimmed etc. It doesn't effect him much when ridden. I find he's better the more work he does. But obviously it different for every horse. If you look up the university of minnesota and search on their site for shivers, they've got a lot of info on there.
 

paddy

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9 August 2001
Messages
287
One of our boys was a shiverer. He was fine ridden (from a shivering perspective anyway) but had problems when picking out his back feet or holding them up for the farrier. At the time, I think there was a lot of research being done into epsm diets - not sure whether that is still in fashion, but might be worth asking on the vet forum. Some people suggested it really made a difference.
 
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