Will not allow hind feet to be picked up

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KarlR

New Member
Hi folks. Any thoughts on this one...

My horse, a 16.2 TB, 7yo, has just started refusing to allow anyone to pick up his hind feet (to pick them out, etc).

He has been fine up until now, but last week he started shaking his foot free after it had been held for a second and hastily putting it down with a foot shuffle. That progressed to refusing to allow you to hold them and now he puts his bum in the corner of the stable if he thinks that you might ask for them! He actually looks worried and runs to the other side of the stable if you try to pick them up.

You can still pick up the front ones without problems and he's still just as gentle as always when grooming, etc.

His movement looks slightly odd behind, but then it always has. When turned out he gallops and spins around like a two year old, so he doesn't seem in pain and I hacked him out Sunday without complaint.

We gave him some bute and a mild tranquiliser yesterday and he allowed his feet to be picked up, but later in the day he was the same again. I can't believe that the bute suppressed that much pain, but the tranquiliser might have had some effect.

Over the last month his feed has been increased gradually and feed supplements added. His previous owners definitely did not take care of him and his condition and spirit is getting much better as a result of recent care, but it's possible this might have had an effect.

I'm due to get a sinus problem (that we have discovered the previous owners left untreated for 3 years!) scoped in the next week or two so I'd prefer to leave any medical investigations until then if possible.

However, I'd be very interested in whether folks think this sounds to be behavioural or genuine discomfort. Also, if you've had a similar experience or have any ideas that I could try I'd be most grateful!
 

Cathy Reynolds

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Sep 18, 2000
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Are you sure it's feet and not his private bits (see my message about smegma the other day on horse care)? It got so I couldn't go near Benny's belly (although he would allow feet pick-up). He may also just be having you on (always possible, though sounds unlikely from the description). If the farrier hasn't seen him I should get him/her in pronto (nail through hoof maybe?).
 

Dizzy

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Jan 11, 2001
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He certainly doesn't sound happy, I would have a vet check him, it doesn't sound behavioral if he's giving his front feet happily.

With it being his back feet, his problem could be stemming from his back, back legs or feet. Is it just one leg or both, it could be a briused sole or even an abscess, as with all the bad weather we've had I've known loads of horses sufffer with them this winter.

Let us know how you get on.

Lesley
 

Pam F

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Jan 24, 2001
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Yes, I also think it is probably a genuine physical problem.

For the last year or so my horse has acted in a similar way - he is reluctant to let you hold his hind feet up for long, pulls back and does a little shuffle just as you describe. In his case we know he has arthritic changes and has had some back trouble (he is 19). He is fine ridden including dressage and is VERY active and athletic in the field. Obviously yours won't be the same problem but I would deffinately check it out although I shouldn't think waiting another 2 weeks will matter providing he remains sound.

Also it is suprising how much 1 bute can help particulary with wimpy sensitive horses like mine.

Good luck and keep us posted.
 

KarlR

New Member
Thanks for that folks. There has been some development along those lines...

I took my old instructor over to see him for the first time last night. She examined him carefully and decided that his back was far too sensitive. Certain areas in the lower back and even the saddle area caused him to flinch when touched. She's therefore recommended that he see a gentle back man immediately, but then a vet for ultrasound and x-rays if there's no immediate improvement. After some gentle massage, she managed to get him to give her his feet, but he clearly wasn't happy and pulled them away again.

We trotted him up and she felt that his movement was fine, but when we took him back in to the stable and tried to pick his feet up again he refused.

She also fell in love with him immediately (of course!) She said that she felt he was such a genuine horse and with such a kind personality that this must be a physical problem. That's my opinion too - this would be so out of character for him.

I'm just hope and pray that this is easily fixed! :(
 

Mossy

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Jan 9, 2000
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Have you got access to a good back person. There is a brilliant one our way and if you are stuck I will ask for a contact number in Worksop. It may also be worth getting his saddle checked as it would be a shame to sort his back out only to find the problem repeats itself due to the saddle.
Good luck
 

KarlR

New Member
The saddle should be okay, since it was only bought for him two weeks ago, and several experienced people agreed with the saddler that it looked a good fit.

I have a couple of excellent personal recommendations and am attempting to get in touch with them at the moment. Many thanks though! :)
 

Showjumper

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Dec 30, 2000
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Sounds like Shivers

Ask the vet to check when he comes out. The main symptons of Shivers include the horse being weak through the back, not wanting you to touch his hind legs, and snatching them away when you do pick them up. Bute does help but as far as I am aware, Shivers is incurable. A horse at my old riding stables had it and he went out on loan as a gentle hack, as he loves work, but most horses with Shivers are retired. It depends upon the severity of the case.
 

KarlR

New Member
I understood that shivers was a draft horse disease (and even he's not that heavy! :)) I appreciate though that with horses nothing is cast in stone, so I'll bear all these things in mind and let you folks know when I find out.

I spoke to the back man who is coming up to look at him. He sounded okay and I have good recommendations for him although he does sound somewhat expensive - not that it matters if it works! I'm reassured though to find that he's more a physio person than a chiropracter: when I asked he said "muscles, not bones - if it's bones then I'll tell you what's wrong and you should see your vet!".
 

Dizzy

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We had a horse on our livery yard that some people said had the symptoms of shivers/wobbler syndrome, our vet said that this is caused by damage to the spine usually in the kneck that mixes up the electical messages sent from the brain to the body, which causes them to trip, fall have trouble coordinating their rear end and has an inability to back.

I'll bet its a pull or a strain, especially if the turnout is the same as mine - an absolute quagmire.

Lesley
 

Anna**

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Hi Karl

I have just recently had a back person out to Daily. Completely different symptons though, everytime I asked for trot or canter she tried to get me off - it turned out that she has pulled a muscle in her back.

Anyway, it is good to have a back person out, they will find any stiffness (withers etc, common in some horses)and release it also work on any muscle spasms that they find - all a mystery to most of us but interesting to watch.

Hope everything goes well and keep us informed.
 

KarlR

New Member
An update for you!

The back man arrived and within two seconds said that he thought there was a problem before he even touched him. When he started pressing, the gentlest touch that he used almost had the horse collapsing.

He then appeared to push the spine back into place using his fist and thumb which was clearly very uncomfortable for the horse, but he was adamant that the horse shouldn't be restrained..."if he wants to move away let him: he'll realise that I'm helping him soon enough". Lo and behold, the horses reactions got better as he went along the spine and he then said "that's it - he'll be fine now". About 5 minutes in all. He also checked my wife's horse and immediately said "no problems there at all".

My livery yard owner who isn't a great fan of back men said that while he had talked a lot of sense she couldn't see that what he had done would do anything to help.

Nevertheless, the back man insisted that I pick up his back feet quite high and aside from a little initial trepidation there was no reaction from Zak at all. He picked them up without protest.

The advice that he gave us on management was that we shouldn't work him onto too tight a circle for a few days and should give a mild tranquiliser before turning him out - he considered that it was almost certainly a field injury caused by him leaping around, galloping, and stopping sharply.

I've put him back into light work as per the mans instructions and continued to pick up his feet without problems. We've another 3 weeks before the farrier is due, so fingers crossed!! :D
 

Pam F

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Jan 24, 2001
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Very pleased for you - looks like you have solved the problem.

I used to be very wary of 'back people' untill one came to my horse last November. He diagnosed sore back muscle and after a short treatment the improvement was amazing and my horse loved the treatment. I suppose it pays to be open minded!
 

KarlR

New Member
I'm certainly very happy about it! :D

Not only does he seem far better in his back, but he is working beautifully. We had a freelance instructor come over to start working with us this week. In the initial lesson she rode him for 40 minutes and said that he was fantastic, had a lovely temperament and huge potential! Almost immediately he dropped into a lovely outline, working nicely on the bit with impulsion. He later collected superbly to canter on a 15 metre circle and showed himself to be flexible and responsive.

Clearly no back problems that concern him now! :)
 
F

fizz21

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Good that your horse is all right now

Can I please ask what saddle do you use?
 
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