Sunday, January 22, 2012

UFP Vet Appointment

I had an interesting visit from my vet (we'll call her L) on Saturday. She was out to evaluate the possibility of Lilly having upward fixation of the patella, a condition where one of the patellar ligaments used to allow the horse to lock its hind legs remains in the hooked position.

She started with a physical examination of Lilly's legs and hooves and after some basic questions decided she wanted to use the hoof testers. I told her there would be none of that on the front hooves, but she could go to town on the rears. She said Lilly showed discomfort when she tested the soles, but I haven't noticed her being uncomfortable on her hind feet at all. Even as I walked her over the sharp rocks to the round pen for the second part of the evaluation, she never took a short step. She also noted a bit of effusion in both hocks, but nothing serious.

We went to the round pen so L could watch Lilly move at the walk, trot, and canter. It was pretty swampy in there from all the rain we've had, so instead of free-longing her like I usually do, I grabbed the longe line. That way I could keep her out of the really wet spots by keeping her in a smaller circle. I just have to say that she was EXCELLENT and made me look really good. :)

As is typical for Lilly, she had a difficult time cantering to the right and that's one of the first things L noticed. Lilly even started off on the wrong lead behind, but otherwise, she thought Lilly looked pretty good and didn't see any signs of lameness or UFP. She doesn't think Lilly reaches up under herself well, and while I can get her to do so, she doesn't want to willingly.

Next, we took her to the driveway for some flexion tests. She tested slightly positive on her left hock, and slightly less than that on her right hock. Nothing to be too concerned about, but definitely something to make a note of.

L wanted to see me ride Lilly a bit, hoping to catch her doing the "trip" thing she does, and I had also mentioned to her about Lilly switching her lead behind at random times during our ride. She tripped a couple times, but it wasn't clear whether it was because of the footing or if it was the trip I've been complaining about. She didn't switch her lead behind at all either, but she did protest picking up the right lead a couple times when I asked her to canter to the right.

When we got back to the barn, L said she didn't think there was a need for x-rays. She said if I was curious and really wanted them, she'd do it for me because she brought the machine, but she wasn't going to recommend it. She thinks Lilly's main issue is hock pain.

Lilly has more issues on her right side than her left side, and even though she flexed more positive on her left side, hock pain would explain most of the issues, or could be used to justify them:

  • Lilly tends to drag her rear hooves... it's quite evident near trimming time because they're pretty squared off. Her toes are nice and short, so she's not dragging them because they're too long, she's possibly doing it because she's having hock pain and just doesn't want to pick up her feet.
  • She could be switching leads behind because it's easier for her when she's on the left lead.
  • The tripping could be simply because if she's dragging her toes, she's going to trip. I've seen her trip on concrete, though, so I still think there might be something to my stifle hypothesis.
  • The increased tripping at the horse show in November could be related to the fact that we had been there all day and she was being worked fairly hard. Since she was fatigued, she tripped more.
L recommended that I ride her as much as I possibly can, and work on strengthening her hindquarters. I've been going out every other day to ride, but she thinks riding every day would be beneficial. When I ride, she wants me to do a lot of walk/trot transitions and a lot of "correct walking". She thinks longing in side reins would also help convince Lilly to step up underneath herself, but I'm not a big side reins girl. I'll have to investigate that a bit. Hills and trail work would be beneficial as well, but we don't have any trails around for me to ride on. I'd have to trailer her off the property for that.

She also said she doesn't think I should canter for the next two months or so... not until I've got her muscles built up.

We also talked about adding a joint supplement to her SmartPak and there's some potential for some Adequan shots. Lilly is already on MSM but I'm thinking of adding something more potent, like Cosequin. My vet recommended Cosequin ASU, but I'd love to hear your opinions as well.

I didn't end up getting the x-rays. I'm going to research all of this a bit, and I can always have her come back out if I'm not convinced, or if I don't see any improvement after a reasonable amount of time.

After the lameness evaluation, it was time to float Lilly's teeth. She had a few little ulcers in her mouth, so I was happy when everything was done.

She was a really good girl!
L also showed me a few rub spots where Lilly's bit must be rubbing, so I'm going to have to investigate that as well. There's nothing on either of her bits that could be pinching her, and I don't see anything that could be rubbing, so I'm not sure what's causing it. Even L was a bit puzzled when I showed her Lilly's bits...

Lilly taking a snooze...
Before she left, I asked L about Lilly's weight. The BO thinks Lilly is getting too thin and was thrilled when I told her it was okay to start her on half a scoop of beet pulp. L confirmed that Lilly is at a really good weight, and she wouldn't want to see her any heavier than she is now. She thinks she's still a tad on the high side, but with more work, she'll thin down a bit more, and gain more muscle.


  1. One other thing to consider - dragging toes - particularly hinds - could possibly be a sign of early infection with the EPM organism - there's now a much more reliable test for it and a treatment that doesn't break the bank (the old approved treatment costs a fortune and isn't effective in many cases). The new blood test, which is in clinical trials, is much more specific and accurate than the older tests. Both my Drifter and Pie showed gait abnormalites, including dragging a hind toe on one side, and are now completely normal after treatment. If this is a possibility you want to explore, visit my EPM page for more information - the blood test is quick and easy and would quickly rule that out or in. A caution - many vets are not familiar with the new test or treatment protocal and may think of EPM as a horse with severe gait or balance abnormalities and the early stages don't present like that.

  2. What an interesting post! Thanks for summarizing all that for us, and so glad to hear it's nothing too horrible. Good on you for standing up to the hoof testers - those things can put out a horrendous amount of force.

  3. Gotta love the sleepy pony face!

  4. Somewhere around a year and a half to two years ago we had lameness issues in the hocks with Milo and xrays were done. My vet recommended joint supplements either Platinum Performance CJ or Cosequin ASU. I tried the PP CJ first for a few months (roughly six) and we never had ot investigate any more lameness issues the supps did the trick. Well, I got awfully tired of the expensive price tag with the PP CJ, so I switched Milo to the Cosequin ASU. Hes been on that ever since now, with no noticable change from the PP CJ to the ASU. Im happy with the supplement and think that it really is holding up for Milo considering since we first started using it our workloads have gotten more intense (especially for the hocks). In short, I recommend the Cosequin ASU, and it really is at an affordable price.

    Your post still keeps me interested in the possibility of UFP for Milo...I wonder if he should get an evaluation again just to be sure. I dont think he has hock soreness however, as his tripping and whatnot has been for as long as I have had him (four years)....just makes me think.

  5. Thanks, Kate... I meant to ask my vet about that because I remember you mentioning it once before. I was curious if she was familiar with the new tests.

    Funder, thanks... me too! And I really don't think hoof testers are all that reliable, but I still see them everywhere!

    SillyPony, she was even snoring! It was so funny! Everyone at the barn said I was mean for taking a picture of her sleeping. :)

    Milo, thank you for the supplement review. I had some sticker shock when I saw how much the ASU is, but as I researched more and more, it's starting to look fairly reasonable.

    I haven't ruled out UFP either, and will probably end up getting the x-rays eventually. I'm hoping that maybe the ASU will help her stifle too... a few of the reviewers on SmartPak said their horses had mile UFP and the ASU really helped, so I'm crossing my fingers. It certainly can't hurt to have your vet look into it!

  6. Hock pain! Very interesting. Side reins when lunging aren't a bad thing, as long as they are adjusted correctly. It's like a rider with a really steady hand.