Would it be ridiculous to call the vet over intermittent stumbling (that isn't really stumbling)?

NLPM

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This is quite long - sorry! And it might be I'm reading something into nothing.

About three weeks ago, when my horse stumbled a bit on a ride. Not a 'trip', i.e. a lurch forward over a tree root or something - just a strange kind of 'ripple' in one of her shoulders for a fraction of a second; it didn't tip me forward or in any way affect my balance. I didn't give it a second thought, until she did it again on another ride. And then two or three times each ride last week. Always walk, never trot or canter. No pattern in ground type or level. Usually in the first 45 mins or first hour of a ride. Not slopping along, head in the clouds, either - but as I said, it's not a 'trip'; it doesn't feel like a lack of attention. It's very difficult to explain but it feels almost like she's put the hoof down twice (I know she hasn't; I just can't think of any other way to explain it!), or stomped a bit harder on that one step.

Farrier came last Thursday and said yes, her hooves had grown a bit quicker than usual and her toes were a bit long. A quick trim and she'd be right (barefoot and always has been).

Yesterday's ride, she 'tripped' three or four times again. It's always a front leg, but not always the same one, so I thought maybe her saddle was a bit tight - she's put on weight on the spring grass, etc., maybe her shoulders are just a bit restricted. Decided to call saddle fitter, and maybe physio, and all would be well.

Tonight though, I saw her do it walking over to me in the field. Just a split second - an extra ripple in the muscle (/fat!) in her shoulder. I wouldn't even have clocked it if I didn't recognise it as what she's been doing under saddle.

I've videoed her walking in the field tonight on my phone, but not ideal - it was getting dark so it's a bit blurry, plus she's wandering with a grazing herd so only ever taking ten steps or so at a time. Have watched them at 0.25 speed obsessively - she appears to be landing 'flat' rather than heel-toe and there are a couple of strides where I think she's actually landing toe first, but difficult to tell. I tried to attach the videos to this post, but no joy.

I'm not entirely sure why I'm posting this, other than to get a sanity check really... Whether I'm being paranoid or whether it is worth ringing the vet to say 'my horse occasionally does something odd, but I can't explain it well or recreate it for you to come and see'! :oops: Having the horses at home is wonderful apart from those times you really just need a second pair of eyes/someone to bounce thoughts off!

Anyone got any ideas? I'm trying not to leap to thoughts of navicular on the basis of a few funny moments!

I have a bit of an odd relationship with my local vet practice, so would really prefer not to call them out unless I need to, but on the other hand, if this does sound to more experienced posters like the start of something more serious, then I'd prefer to call them sooner rather than later.
 

ycbm

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I was going to ask if she was toe first landing when you described it as putting the foot down twice, because that's what it can feel like.

If she is toe first landing, you need it sorted as research showed that it would be damaging the ddft inside the foot. In an already barefoot horse which gets plenty of movement, that's a tricky one to fix though.

Have you checked her feet for thrush, that can cause heel pain which can cause it?
 

NLPM

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Thanks for the reply. I felt a bit daft describing it like that, hence the bit in brackets afterwards - thanks for making me feel that it wasn't a daft way of putting it!

She's barefoot and on a track, albeit a grass one, and hacks regularly on all manner of surfaces. Difficult to tell from the videos I took and as said I can't upload them, but to my untrained eye it does look like there are some strides which might be toe first. Maybe a vet call wouldn't be so ridiculous after all. I also thought her stance was a bit odd tonight, but then thought perhaps I was just looking too hard. Not sure whether a picture of her front legs has uploaded or not!

No signs of thrush, but that's interesting - I didn't know that, although it makes sense that would alter which part of their foot hits the ground first. I will look more closely around her heel and in her feathers tomorrow in the light, in case there's anything that seems sore around there or in her skin. Thanks.
 

ycbm

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For me, that is definitely a picture of a horse with pain in her heels not wanting to stand on them.


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ycbm

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Did she live on the track over winter as well? Or get plenty of exercise and turnout? My only experience of a barefoot horse with heel pain was because his owners could give him so little work and turnout in winter and his heels lost their digital cushion and ran forward.

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NLPM

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Great, thank you.

Obviously not great that you think my horse is suffering, but great that a vet call might not be a waste of time.
I try and avoid ringing in case they think I'm some sort of equine hypochondriac, as they seem to come to me regularly - I appreciate that might be the case with anyone who has multiple horses, but last year they came out because 'my mare seems sad and didn't put her ears forward when I arrived' and 'my gelding has lain down twice today' - I can HEAR the eye rolling when I phone.

(To be fair, I actually don't ever ring unless I think there's something very wrong, despite how trivial it sounds in the initial phone call - e.g. in those examples, the mare sadly died a few days later after a stay in horsepital, and the gelding had a raging virus - but it still puts me off phoning a bit! Especially with something I can't explain well. Hopefully they'll 'get it' like you have!).

Sorry - just seen the last replies. Thanks, NooNoo - will do.

ycbm... No, she didn't... She was out 24/7 in a large field, but not exercised (ridden) anywhere near as much as I'd like. I hacked around work hours where I could, but in the weeks where it wasn't light until gone 7am and was dark by 4pm, I couldn't work her other than weekends and occasionally they were storm dependent! I wonder if I've overdone bringing back into work...
 

Apercrumbie

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Great, thank you.

Obviously not great that you think my horse is suffering, but great that a vet call might not be a waste of time.
I try and avoid ringing in case they think I'm some sort of equine hypochondriac, as they seem to come to me regularly - I appreciate that might be the case with anyone who has multiple horses, but last year they came out because 'my mare seems sad and didn't put her ears forward when I arrived' and 'my gelding has lain down twice today' - I can HEAR the eye rolling when I phone.

(To be fair, I actually don't ever ring unless I think there's something very wrong, despite how trivial it sounds in the initial phone call - e.g. in those examples, the mare sadly died a few days later and the gelding had a raging virus - but it still puts me off phoning a bit! Especially with something I can't explain well. Hopefully they'll 'get it' like you have!).
I'm sure they'll get it, particularly if they have experience of coming out because you have noticed something off, and there is indeed something wrong. I agree that she looks like she is avoiding her heels, so it's worth getting checked. Could be a strangely-presenting lami case (I'm hearing that it's a terrible year for it), but could be any number of things. You know your horse. Mine started tripping and others dismissed it, it eventually became obvious enough to a vet that he had arthritis in his neck. It's normal for us to spot things before they become acute.
 

NLPM

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Thanks Apercrumbie. I did wonder about arthritis (although not neck - interesting!) as she's late teens. I've thought of all sorts since seeing her do it loose tonight... Best I think if I stop second guessing and wondering, and just get a professional opinion! Thanks :)
 

milliepops

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IME it's never wrong, if you notice something odd, to pick up the phone and have a word with your vet. Mine are always happy to give an advice call and then schedule a visit if they feel its necessary after our conversation.

I am also the hypochondriac owner, but I'd rather be careful and wrong, than careless and wrong 🤷🏼‍♀️
 

Kahlua

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You know your horse and if you feel like she might need the vet don’t hesitate to call. If it’s nothing - fantastic! If it’s something - you’ve hopefully caught it early. Trust your gut 😊
 

holeymoley

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Tripping can be a symptom of Cushings, and you mention she is in her late teens. I wouldn’t say it would be wrong to call the vet. I can’t see very well in the photo but she looks to have a really under run heel and long toe which could be the reason or exacerbating something underlying.
 

SatansLittleHelper

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You are not being daft, it's never wrong to check with the vet. I don't have anything to add to what's already been said but I hope it's nothing serious and she can be sorted quickly xx
 

CMcC

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The best advice I was ever given by a vet was “she is your horse, if you something is not right you are probably right. Trust your intuition”.
 

asmp

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Something has not been quite right with my horse lately. A few lame steps here and there now and again. Nothing to be seen on leg. Farrier said possibly arthritis? (he’s 20ish). Took him to lameness specialist vet who struggled to see anything while being lunged and ridden (Horse was having a good day). Said I could either leave it for a while or have hoof x-rays. I wanted the X-rays done as I knew I’d be bringing him back again in the near future. The x-rays showed large calcified side bones, which explained everything. No sign of arthritis or laminitis.

If you think something is not quite right, you’re probably correct.
 

HashRouge

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My Arab started with similar slight stumbling when she was about 18/19 and x rays showed she had coffin joint arthritis. There are any number of things it could be though - I'd definitely contact the vet.
 

rabatsa

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All the cases I have known have been caused by arthritis or in one case saddle fit. I have had dealings with rather a lot of older equines due to my involvement with the RDA.
 

TotalMadgeness

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You can video your horse walking using the slo-mo setting on an iphone to see how she is placing her feet. My two stumble intermittently because they're weak behind - one with bone spavin in hocks, the other with weak stifles.
 

tristar

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my older horse stumbled when the farrier was due, barefoot, i made sure he had his toes and flare under control after that, by rasping myself, since then no stumbling
 

abbijay

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Following with interest...
I am going to our vet for a lameness work up next week despite the fact the horse isn't really lame. Much like you it's an occasional trippy step! I felt a bit of a fraud on the call - it's a bit wishy-washy and about a feeling rather than an obvious, constant lameness. I phoned up, explained what was going on and there must've been something in what I was saying as the vet was pretty keen to get us in.
The difference for me is the horse is much younger (8) and was only backed last year so I'm not expecting arthritis. Hopefully it is something and nothing but I'd rather know if there is something underlying.
 
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