An extensive look into my horse’s rollercoaster of soundness issues

Issue #1

So if you’ve been watching my story, you’ll know currently she’s limping on her left knee and thanks to the detectives of Instagram is also stiff in her hindend. Since she’s been limping for the past 2 weeks, a lot of people are getting the impression she’s always like this all the time – an old, arthritic nag. While that is true, she has seen better days.

Her soundness issues really didn’t become a problem until last winter 2018. She had a limp that came and went in her right leg. Nothing was swollen, nothing was hot. I even had my vet check it out who said it was most likely just old age since she was 27 at the time. It was a very slight limp that came and went. Some days were better than others.

It was super frustrating to deal with because some days it was good and some days it was bad. It was just persistent always there.

After free lunging her in the indoor and watching how she walked, I figured it was her knee that was the issue and most likely her arthritis since it came and went depending on the weather and her level of activity.

I put her on MSM or cocaine as I call it on my stories and we took walks in the indoor daily to maintain some low impact exercise. After a week, her limp in her right knee was completely gone.

She was sound again at the rotten age of 28. She overcame this minor mishap and remained sound pretty much the entire time up until her colic (issue #2). She had never had soundness issues before, so I was extremely happy we had solved the issue.

Since she does have minor arthritis in that knee and a ton of scar tissue in her scar leg that gets stocked up when she’s in her stall, we do free lunging sessions weekly to build a little muscle, stretch and get the circulation going. I couldn’t ride her because over the winter/spring she was not at her optimal weight. But here is a glimpse of these sessions that we do. I only ever ask her to trot, but she usually makes her own lesson plan and ignores me. In the second video I say holy shit, so turn your sound off if you’re in a public space.

Issue #2

Two weeks ago, my horse had colic. While she was sedated, she lied down and slipped when she tried to get up. Her dominate leg is her left. She went down three times and got up ungracefully (like struggled and strained herself to get up), three times using her left leg first. One of those times she was sitting like a dog and paused for a bit. So it is not surprising that the very next day she was limping hard on her left knee as seen below.

The day of her colic was a rough 4 hours for her. The week following, I just let her rest. There was no swelling anywhere on her body, no heat anywhere. She was sore, as literally any old being would be after a day like that. She was already on a joint supplement. There wasn’t anything I could really do. When your muscles are sore, they just gotta heal on their own. This week, I started using a liniment oil to help it a bit, and it actually did provide some relief.

Since she was sound at the walk, I took her to the indoor to check and see if she was sound at the trot. After 10 days of healing, she looked like this.

When I would take her into the indoor to just walk her around, she wouldn’t even trot or step over a ground pole. So the fact that she even trotted so willingly and at one point cantered down the long side made me super relieved. She obviously as of 3 days ago is not fully recovered, but I am satisfied with her progress.

As for the stiffness in her “hock/stifle”, I realize her gait in the video is choppy as it’s usually floaty and smooth. It usually looks choppy when we first start because she hasn’t warmed up yet. She’s 28. She gets stiff along her entire back, her joints, her legs. She. is. always. choppy. when. we. start. We were in the indoor for 20 minutes – most of which was walking. I had her trot on and off for 5 minutes – not to judge her overall gait, but to see if she would limp on her knee which she very subtly did which is really good progress considering she could barely walk on it days prior.

Besides her old lady stiffness, her one back leg is mostly scar tissue and she lacks feeling in that leg as it is. So it’s very difficult to tell from a video her level of stiffness in the back because she already moves differently than other Thoroughbreds. It takes a few laps of trotting to really warm up her back leg to where it moves smoother. I didn’t make her trot too much because I know she was still sore and didn’t want to impede the healing process with too much movement.

I do body checks on her daily to look for swellings, heat, lumps – literally anything abnormal. I saw nothing out of the ordinary on her hindend or back legs. I have no doubt she is sore back there, but she is most definitely more sore on her front left. I’m not sure what people expected me to do to treat her after they pointed out how stiff she was in the back… especially considering there’s multiple things going on back there that no one else could possibly know about/how to treat based on a 20 second long video unless you’re a psychic or my vet. Regardless, a little stiffness even if she hadn’t taken a tumble the other week would be normal for a horse her age.

I hope this clears some things up about why she’s currently stiff and lame. I have no doubt in a month or so she will be back to normal galloping around in the indoor as long as there’s no more setbacks in her recovery process.

I know people are trying to help when they give feedback about what they think is wrong and what course of action they think I should take. However, without context and knowing my horse’s medical history and current ailments or knowing how I’m currently treating her, unsolicited feedback isn’t exactly helpful. I appreciate the concern, but she is in good hands. I always get her the proper treatment, and I take videos and photos of injuries specifically to track her progress. And every single time we have treated an injury or health problem, we have gotten positive results. Source: the horse is 28 years old and counting.

I would much prefer support. The colic was extremely stressful emotionally on me and physically on her. The recovery process has been surprisingly not as slow as I expected. If we’re being honest, she bounced back faster than I expected. However it’s still a bummer that she’s achey and went from galloping over ground poles to barely being able to walk. When I was looking for liniment oils to use, I got a ton of replies about which ones I should try when Amazon reviews were super unhelpful. I really appreciate support like that. Behind every judgmental message I get are 10 supportive ones, and I truly appreciate every single one. When a horse has as many health setbacks as mine does, getting supportive messages of people who can relate with their problematic horse or just positive you-can-do-this messages – it really makes it better.

Thankfully, she survived the worst part of her colic which was indeed the scariest thing to happen to her to date. Now all that’s left is her muscles to recover from the strain of it. And so far she’s been doing really well. We’re just gonna keep on keeping on and wait for her to bounce back 100% and you get to watch the entire reality show from my Instagram stories.