Wednesday 24 February 2016

A mystery lameness solved

I blogged last week about Minty who came with a mystery lameness. All sorts of diagnostics - flexion tests, nerve blocks, MRI, x-ray and ultrasound - had been tried and none had so far explained the problem.

When he arrived he had pretty long feet, as you can see from the photos, but he had a good landing - heel first and fairly well balanced medio-laterally - so it perhaps wasn't too surprising that nothing had appeared on MRI.
Despite his good landing he was short-striding and pottery, the sort of footiness which is very often related to nutritional or metabolic problems, but that is also fairly common when horses arrive here. Usually once they have been on our forage, feed and minerals for a few weeks this type of footiness gets much better.

Minty was no exception and over his first 6 weeks improved steadily until he was looking very sound in the school and really striding out. However he was still finding hard surfaces a challenge and it was at this point that we needed to rule out metabolic problems since even the best diet isn't going to work 100% if there is an underlying metabolic imbalance.

Sure enough, a blood test last week confirmed that Minty has PPID (or Cushings) and so he is now on medication which I hope will be the final piece in the jigsaw of returning him to full soundness.
If you have a footy horse, the sensible first step is always to get the diet as good as you possibly can - basing it on forage which is low in sugar and starch and a good mineral supplement (Progressive Earth or Equinatural for preference) - and only adding additional hard feed which is safe for feet (like Coolstance copra or linseed).

For the vast majority of horses this will deal with the problem but if you still have a footy horse thats when a PPID test is an essential next step. Its rare that we need to test horses who come here, and over the years most of the times we have tested its come back negative. However if your horse has PPID, treating it can make the difference between banging your head against a brick wall and getting nowhere and having a sound horse.


Unknown said...

His hoof rings did make it look like he had at least some sensitivity going on. It has just made me ponder heel first landing and laminitics/LGL etc. Do you think they might be more inclined to be heel first because of soreness or am I completely off mark there!?

Nic Barker said...

Its a good point Ester but his landing wasn't an exaggerated heel first - it was less easy to spot than the landing on our own horses, for instance, and they aren't footy or short-striding. I think its just that for me it stood out because almost all rehabs come with a flat or toe first landing because of the diagnosis they arrive with.

A heel first landing is normal, after all, or should be, even for a shod horse, if its sound.

Nic Barker said...

I also agree about the rings, but those can be seen on horses with purely dietary issues so its not conclusive for me unless they are still there once the horse is on a really good diet.

Fi said...

Can only echo this. *touchwood* The width of the knife edge that I seem to walk with Prince and his footiness has increased significantly since his PPID was diagnosed and treatment started (He was actually tested whilst at Rockley and came back negative at that time, although I do wonder if it was rumbling away in the background...) I used to do a lot of feeling like I wasn't getting anywhere fast but we do seem to be back to making a little progress again now

Unknown said...

Seeing this I am wondering if I should have had Norman tested again too. Glad to see its provided an answer for Minty :)

Aileen said...

Lenny also had his ups and downs after his PPID was diagnosed. It took a while to work out that the worst times for him are when his coat is changing in the spring and autumn. The only thing that really works for him during this time is to keep him off grass completely and alas the green stuff is coming through already! The pergolide helps, but it isn't the whole story unfortunately!