WWYD - Time to give up?

Skips11

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10 May 2020
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I have a 5yo OTTB. She is the sweetest horse and absolutely the kindest, most sensible and lovely little horse I've ever had. However, there are so many issues that I am wondering if what we are doing is the best course of action.
Spring this year (around her 5th birthday), we started to lose the right canter under saddle. Felt like the left hind couldn't 'come under' to strike off on the right leg. No bucking EVER or any reaction, other than always going on the left leg. Using a pole in the corner worked, but once on the right leg it felt horribly unbalanced. Prior to this, we rarely cantered in the school as mostly hacked up hills and did walk/trot on the occasions we schooled. However we definitely 'had' the right canter at some point.
She had/has regular physio who was very happy with her and couldn't find a muscular issue.
Gradually, it got worse and even using a pole sometimes we go the left leg. Instructor was convinced it was a training issue and the fact she was young/unbalanced, however my gut always said there was pain somewhere, so I stopped trying and booked the vet. There is not a single other symptom, she passed a 5 stage vetting and is a very happy little thing who loves working.
Just before the workup, we had an awful bout of cellulitis/chronic lymphangitis which resulted in her being hospitalised on 3 occasions for a week each time. On the 3rd visit we were told to prepare for the worst. We battled with the lymphangitis for months and almost lost her, but we are now on top of it. I have learnt proper compression bandaging from a professional and the leg has been fine (albeit a little fat) for over a month now so I am happy that I know how to manage it even with her coming in at night now.

So, workup rebooked for this week, having had several months of in hand walking and getting fluffy in the field. We arrived, trotted her up and she was lame on the left fore. She had been throwing shapes in the field 2 days before but I hadn't thought anything of it so hadn't trotted her up - if I had I would have noticed straight away as she was obviously lame in trot. Scanned the leg and she has a small injury to the check ligament. Could be new or possible evidence that there has been a small old injury there which she has aggravated.
We can't box rest due to the lymphangitis so keeping current routine and rescan in a month when we are hoping we can do the workup for the original canter issue.

She also definitely has ulcers again from the extended period of pain/antibiotics for the cellulitis (she had them when I bought her from the trainer which rescoped completely clear and no issues since).

It just seems relentless and I am wondering if it is worth it. The plan was she would grassroots event, but I'm not sure she will ever be sound enough.

Should I turn away for a year? Should I wait for the check ligament to heal and then accept she will just be a happy hacker?
 

Carrottom

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You have worked so hard, don't give up now.
Was the lymphangitis in the right hind? One of mine had this a number of years ago, when it went down there was still a small swelling so it was scanned. This showed a small lesion on the suspensory ligament. We hacked every day in walk for a few weeks, then gradually introduced trot. After 3 months we gradually returned to full work, started jumping after 6 months.
 

Melody Grey

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My horse (Welsh x sports) presented with a forelimb lameness, SI and suspected diagonal RH suspensory issue. He was also very ulcery at this point, so badly that we had to treat and rule out the ulcers before trying to diagnose anything else- nerve blocking was inconclusive due to pain from the ulcers. You might find you have to get the ulcers under control before you can look further. His main ridden symptom was inability to pick up right canter lead too, exactly as you describe. Vets initially tried to suggest it was a schooling issue, I knew it wasn’t.
 

Melody Grey

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...so to answer your question, I wouldn’t give up just yet. Do treat the ulcers and have a look at the whole horse in workup- I think you need to see as much as possible so you know what you’re working with.

Mine was remedially shod for a while, now back barefoot, SI injected, maxed out on ulcer treatment....but touch wood, continuing going well about 15 months later.
 

Skips11

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Yes, lymphangitis was/is the RH. It has been scanned and x rayed top to bottom multiple times as the lymphangitis was so bad they wanted to make sure they weren’t missing a foreign body. So I know that RH is ‘clean’. Check ligament is the LF, but before any of this, my gut felt like it was LH that she didn’t want to use to strike off into right canter.
Just feel like we will be opening a can of worms! She also isn’t insured, and having spent upwards of 6k on the lymphangitis, I am reluctant to invest much more in what was a 2k horse. But on the other hand, we’ve come this far... 🤣
 

Melody Grey

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Yes, lymphangitis was/is the RH. It has been scanned and x rayed top to bottom multiple times as the lymphangitis was so bad they wanted to make sure they weren’t missing a foreign body. So I know that RH is ‘clean’. Check ligament is the LF, but before any of this, my gut felt like it was LH that she didn’t want to use to strike off into right canter.
Just feel like we will be opening a can of worms! She also isn’t insured, and having spent upwards of 6k on the lymphangitis, I am reluctant to invest much more in what was a 2k horse. But on the other hand, we’ve come this far... 🤣
In that case, I’d go in for a very frank, cut to the chase kind of work up- ultrasound suspensories, x-ray whole back.

My previous horse (also OTTB) was PTS aged 7 because we’d treated KS but not related problems and we were chasing things round uninsured in the end. Look well at as much as you can, cheaply first and then decide would be my advice.
 

suebou

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Sounds like mine, first decent work this year, after three years of grazing and being just the loveliest person ever but loosing shoes very frequently (change of farrier sorted it) age 6, lovely job, fab paces, blah blah. Ge4 front and back ulcers at start of summer, treated (ow, cost wise!) flared up, needs rescoped to see what’s happening, has now developed TWO locking stifles. Has been accident prone, cuts, etc since we got him. What a shame for such a nice horse. Not certain what the future holds for him…..
 

Skips11

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In that case, I’d go in for a very frank, cut to the chase kind of work up- ultrasound suspensories, x-ray whole back.

My previous horse (also OTTB) was PTS aged 7 because we’d treated KS but not related problems and we were chasing things round uninsured in the end. Look well at as much as you can, cheaply first and then decide would be my advice.
Yes this I think is a good plan. Luckily I can afford to do investigations and treatment, it’s just whether I want to spend the money!
I suppose I need to find out what I’m dealing with before I consider turning away/retiring.
 

McGrools

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Hi, sorry to hear you are having these issues. I have just bought an OTTB a few days ago and am bracing myself for a steep learning curve. I am eyes wide open to their fragility at times.
My advice would be as she is only 5 she would be worth a year turned out to see if dr green can help before giving up. Still so young.
My boy is 6 and hopefully i can give him a fair crack at a life outside of racing xx
Best of luck xx
 

McGrools

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In addition i dont insure and wouldnt have a bottomless pit of money to chuck at problem after problem. I am hoping my gut would tell me when its time to cut my losses. X
 

Skips11

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In addition i dont insure and wouldnt have a bottomless pit of money to chuck at problem after problem. I am hoping my gut would tell me when its time to cut my losses. X
It is so difficult to draw the line, especially as all the money spent so far has been necessary to save the horse. There was no question about the lymphangitis as I knew that she could be managed long term and it was fixable, however all the current investigations are in aid of her career as a ridden horse, so I know I need to give myself a limit!
 

Skips11

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Hi, sorry to hear you are having these issues. I have just bought an OTTB a few days ago and am bracing myself for a steep learning curve. I am eyes wide open to their fragility at times.
My advice would be as she is only 5 she would be worth a year turned out to see if dr green can help before giving up. Still so young.
My boy is 6 and hopefully i can give him a fair crack at a life outside of racing xx
Best of luck xx
She is not my first OTTB, but I think I’ve been lucky with previous ones as I’ve had very few problems! Fingers crossed you will have an easy one 😊
 

bluehorse

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I think some of those problems may be unrelated and just unlucky. I’d probably turn her away for 6 months at least, and when I say that I don’t necessarily mean turn her away in the traditional sense of putting her out to grass as not all of us have that option but get her somewhere where she can have as much turnout as possible and have a relaxed lifestyle. Just take the pressure off, I’m not suggesting you have unrealistic expectations of what she should be doing but for whatever reason she’s not coping. However I do mean take the pressure off yourself, I have too much experience sadly of horses that can’t do what I want them to do and the only way I cope with it is focusing on what they can do and not what they can’t. She seems like a lovely horse and if you can get her right it sounds like it’s worth the investment of giving her more time and not giving up because right now things don’t seem to going the right way.
 

Skips11

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Thanks everyone, I think I knew I needed to keep going but sometimes you need someone else to tell you to! It has just been a very very long and stressful few months. We had a chat this morning and she's agreed to do her best at not pratting about in the field, so hopefully once the check ligament has healed we can start again.
On that note, is there anything else you would do with a minor check ligament injury? Vet has given 10 days of bute (not sure there is much benefit to this as she is sound in walk and quite happy) and said just keep normal routine. He advised against cold hosing as not much point and if not completely dried she can get mud fever after repetitive hosing. I have ice vibe boots so could use those but there is no external heat or swelling.
Should I bandage when in? I am confident at proper bandaging and hinds are bandaged every night anyway but won't bother if not necessary.
I have been doing 5m a day of in hand walking up the road and planned to gradually increase.
Physio has mentioned Indiba treatment? Waste of money?

Sorry lots of questions but I feel like I could be doing more for the injury :)
 

Skips11

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I'm not sure whether this would be an appropriate Tom Beech case?
We have a clinic locally in 3 weeks but I think I’d like her to be sound in front so that he can make a fair assessment of whatever else is happening. There is another clinic in March so I am aiming for that one!
 

Skips11

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An update for anyone interested! Check ligament healed very quickly and she is now sound. From the lameness workup for the original issue (loss of right canter), the vet thinks it is a pelvic issue of some sort. The left hind steps under and across too much when lunged on the left rein, which explains why she can't push off of that leg for the right canter lead. Vet thinks not worth doing a bone scan (we have spent upwards of 8k on this horse already for various things), as is expensive and will probably tell us what we already suspect. He wants me to crack on getting her fitter and stronger, and this will either help or highlight the problem. Very unsure what to do. I feel that turning away won't really resolve anything, but worried about making anything worse. Managed to get on the Tom Beech clinic next week so will see what he says. Has anyone had any experience of a 'wonky' pelvis and the outcome? Can it be improved or should I retire her to a light hack (at age 5 :confused:)
 

Goldenstar

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I think that pelvis and stifle injuries both reposed well to the correct type of exercise You need to talk to a rehab specialist but I would think that the water treadmill would be excellent .
I would certainly do a targeted proper rehab if you have the budget for it .
It really depends on how you feel and you feel the horse feels .
There comes a time to stop and as the owner of the horse you are best placed to judge this hard as this is .
 

Skips11

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The clinic went well. Tom thinks that many of our problems are coming from hind gut discomfort, although he can't rule out additional mechanical issues. Per his recommendation, we have started her on U33 from Trinity Consultants and Plusbac. We are also 3 weeks into ulcer treatment so she is already a bit happier. The plan is to see Tom again in March and he expects at least a 50% improvement just from sorting the insides out.

He has asked us to get stuck into proper groundwork in that time to encourage her to lift through the back and engage the core, so our physio is writing a plan for us.

However, if anyone knows of any excellent rehab yards/trainers in Kent, I would love some groundwork lessons and I would consider sending her away for a couple of months if the better option.

I feel a lot better about it all and I really want to do everything we can in the next 3 months on the ground. I have also realised that I will not miss riding too much between now and March, and she is growing again anyway, so every cloud!
 

Birker2020

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The clinic went well. Tom thinks that many of our problems are coming from hind gut discomfort, although he can't rule out additional mechanical issues. Per his recommendation, we have started her on U33 from Trinity Consultants and Plusbac. We are also 3 weeks into ulcer treatment so she is already a bit happier. The plan is to see Tom again in March and he expects at least a 50% improvement just from sorting the insides out.
Reading this with much interest. Glad its working out for you OP. Keep us updated with how you get on in March.
 
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