Friday 14 October 2011

The leg bone's connected to...the other legs...

When I posted yesterday about the rehab rollercoaster one of the horses I had in mind was Taz.

Taz is a big horse - 17.2hh - and he had a successful career as a showjumper before going to live with his present owner.  He is incredibly genuine and also loves being out and about which has helped enormously because above all he likes to keep moving and see what is round the next corner.
When he arrived with his navicular diagnosis his feet were underrun and he was landing toe first on 3 out of 4 feet.   Comparing his hooves today (in each case, the top photo was taken on 3rd August and the lowest photo on 12th October) they are still caudally weak but his toe has shortened.   Apologies for the quality of the lower photo but the camera was fogging up in our lovely mizzle...
Like most rehab horses, his lameness blocked to the back of his feet so by reducing load there, both shock absorption and circulation were compromised. For Taz, everything is different now - including circulation, how his feet load and the way the whole hoof functions.
If you look at the photos of the back of his LF its clear why rehab can be a rollercoaster . If this is the change you can see from the outside - in a  16 year old horse - imagine what is happening internally to tendons, ligaments and tissue.  Look at the difference in the hoof wall length - the loading has changed; look at the changes in the digital cushion - the medio-lateral balance is shifting. 
Its incredible that this can happen in such a short time and its perhaps no wonder that when hooves develop like this they sometimes throw up problematic knock-on effects.  
His frog looks tidy in a shoe - but as the shoe comes off, the proportions of the foot are obvious - a weak frog and a long toe, as we had already seen in the lateral photo. 
After 9 weeks, the frog is much more pivotal but the old damage on the sole is clear and the heels are still weak and underrun - again as shown in the lateral photo. 
Taz was very much on my mind yesterday as a "two steps forward, one step back" type of horse because as well as his primary front limb lameness, he also has old injuries on his hind legs.  

As you can see from the footage, although his LH has the most scar tissue its his RH that had the worst landing; the irony is that once his front limb loading and landing started to improve, that had a big effect on his hind legs.   
Now, finally - as the clips show - he is starting to land properly on his RH as well, but that too has side effects, as the compromised circulatory system in his hind legs is now having to crank back into gear and cope with more movement than ever before.  

Taz is representative of most rehab horses because most - despite arriving here diagnosed with a front limb lameness - actually have hind limb problems as well.  

Its true of at least 80% of the horses who come here.  As well as their navicular or DDFT/ligament damage, some have hind limb suspensory problems, some have bone spavin, some have generalised sacro-iliac or lumbar pain; sometimes the hind limbs fail first, sometimes the front limbs.  

What you can guarantee, though, is that rehabilitating lameness truly is a tangled ball of string that has to be slowly and carefully unravelled. 

1 comment:

Riata Leather said...

That is very interesting, I never knew that barefoot therapy could be used to rehap horses with those sorts of injuries.

Loved watching the clips, thanks for a really neat post.