Friday, August 12, 2011

What's Up Doc? New Bolton part II

Photo credit: ozgary from
Recall that Riley's nerve blocks indicated heel pain in both front feet. The next step, according to the vet, was radiographs.  So off we went to take some pictures.

Radiograph results
The navicular bones had some mild irregularities. I ask:

Would these results be a red flag if this were a prepurchase exam?

 The vet responds reassuringly that Ri's the xrays would  not even be a yellow flag on a horse that was otherwise sound. So that was comforting to hear, but then Riley is ouchy on his fronts, so it ain't that comforting. The farrier also mentioned that they'd had a rash of sore-footed horses this summer, so maybe Ri's situation has an environmental component.
As we moved on to lateral views, there was more to look at, especially the left front. The left front, the lamer foot (and his clubbier foot), is out of balance, with the pedal bone pointing down. I have all of these rads of Riley's RIGHT front, never had the left one examined. They estimated a 7 degree adjustment was needed. Shoeing changes recommended:
  • Lower  the left heel.
  • Shorten the toes of both feet/ set the shoe back for more heel support.
  • Consider pads. Well, pads are hard to keep on a horse with not a lot to nail into, I say.
  • In light of Ri's torn up hoof walls, they said consider glue-ons.
 Um, the suspensory?
I asked if we should do an ultrasound of the suspensory, just in case. The answer was "no." That was my one disappointment with the visit.

Oh, and they x-rayed the left hind, which was gimpy at the start of the exam. It is beautifully clean. No arthritis. Nothing.

Diagnosis, next steps
 We did not discuss a specific diagnosis much. We talked about what we saw, and how to fix it. In the course of our conversation I referred to Riley as "having a navicular issue," and the vet corrected me. He said plainly that he would not call this navicular. Ironically, in the final written report, he diagnosed Ri with "very mild navicular syndrome." The overall tone of the discharge papers was positive, and it was felt that the shoeing changes should do the trick.
In the meantime, I can ride him at a walk (but I'll wait till after his next shoeing, which is soon), and do more as he becomes more comfortable. There is a holistic vet (accupuncturist, chiro) coming to our barn at the end of the month, and I hear she is a great diagnostician. I hope to give her a crack at Riley (so to speak).

My thoughts
First off, I am so deeply relieved Riley does not have to be on stall rest. I don't want Ri's life to limited to a 10X12 stall. Not again. I worry that he might have a suspensory pull on top of this, and wish we could have ruled it out. That said,  I didn't really buy into the suspensory diagnosis as the primary issue. The ouchy feet diagnosis "fits" better with what I know of Riley. The vets say it's manageable, and I think they might be right. In the meantime, I take great joy in leading Riley out to the pasture at night.  He gets to enjoy life!


  1. Shoeing changes is a much better diagnosis than life-style changes! I'm so glad to hear that it's probably just a shoe change, yay!

    Have you considered a natural balance shoeing farrier? They almost always set the shoe back farther than the traditional farrier, along with a more rolled/shorter toe. I've found that all the NB farriers I've worked with have also "shod each hoof according to what that hoof needs" and not always trying to MATCH the feet, as most horses have different sizes and shapes of feet all the way around.

  2. Glad he's mostly ok! Oh, and I would -love- to have an issue with heels being too high--Izzy's special foot is always trying to run under.

  3. Here in Texas, the ground is so hard and dry that a lot of people are having hoof trouble with their horses. My new horse was reported to be sound with super solid feet barefoot, even through endurance rides. I just had to put front shoes on him.

  4. You might also consider equi-socks.

  5. Would you consider having him barefoot? With a proper barefoot trim I mean, not just taking the shoes off.

    My local riding school runs all it's horses barefoot and so do I, and they go very well. A lot of endurance horses here in Australia are ridden barefoot, as do two of our police forces (WA & Queensland). Research suggests a lot of benefits to the horse's health from going without shoes.

    Hope all goes well with him and Harvey, they both seem beautiful horses.

  6. Good news indeed. I know Toby's xrays showed some mild navicular changes years ago and he has never had a problem. (Well not until the laminitis.....)

    Correct shoeing can make such a difference. I am sure you have a good farrier who can do exactly what Riley needs. I know my guy is excellent as far as that goes. He would want to see the Xrays so I am sure you will have them on hand for your shoer.

    I kind of have mixed feelings about glue ons. They are expensive, of course, but are an option for some horses. Some of the pads they have now are very thin and might stay on Riley just fine.

    I turn Tucker out with bell boots all the time. That can help a little with pulling shoes off, but it's not a guarantee.

    I'm happy to hear Riley will not need a layup. He doesn't deserve that after all he's been through.

  7. Hooray for pasture time for Riley!

    If not barefoot, what about Epona shoes?

  8. That sounds good to me! Both of my quarter horses had navicular changes when I bought them. One just what was expected for an 8 year old with upright pasterns. We put shoes on her when she'd never had any but otherwise didn't do anything special for her, ever.
    My next horse was a former halter horse - HUGE bodied, tiny obnoxious halter horse feet. We put him on isoxuprine (sp?) at first then nothing until several years later we put pads on him and he was fine. We did make sure to keep the angles corrective, though, too. He had random unexplained limping happening that we thought was a leftover habit from when he was untreated. He had umbrella-shaped lesions if I remember correctly - the type which heal more easily, whichever that is. I jumped that horse 4' without problems, and rode him as much as any horse crazy kid with indulgent parents would have. We'd go in 12 classes a day for 2 day horse shows - fine. Trail riding on rocks and hard ground - fine.

    I'm thrilled to read Riley has a diagnosis which seems controllable!

  9. So glad he doesn't have to do more stall time. Hoping things get good for him again quickly!

  10. Well thank goodness! So glad to hear that this is a correctable thing :o)

  11. If you can get away with it avoid the pads. That would be too inviting to thrush which can make heel pain worse. :) I'm glad the diagnoses is better than first thought. You'll have him better in no time.

  12. talk with your vet and farrier about heart bar shoes, either with our without pour in pads. Pricey, but it might be the ticket. And I am not saying that your farrier isn't fabulous, b/c I am sure he is, but don't feel obligated to stick with one person if it ain't working. You didn't take the first diagnosis from the vet, so if your farrier can't fix the problem, perhaps someone else can. Learn from my mistake, I trusted a highly recommended farrier for far too many years, and after finally switching, my horse has never been sounder.

  13. As far as glue-ons, I've heard great things about the Epona shoe, especially with a packing material used in the clefts.

    Also, I've read that if you use hoof casting material on the foot it provides a better surface to adhere a glue-on shoe, too.

    Good to hear Ri gets to keep playing outside.


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