View Full Version : What to do with horse that has soft tissue damage in feet

09-11-09, 07:18 PM
Have also put this in new lounge....

Some people may have read previously about my mare who has lameness issues. To cut a long story short, she is now on a year out at grass minus shoes to see what happens. She has minor soft tissue damage in her fronts and was therefore about 2 tenths lame only on a circle on the hard - fine in a straight line and on a surface, she also had tendon sheath inflammation on her left hind that kept flaring up making her again about 2 tenths lame on a circle on a soft surface. Now if she comes out of her year at grass with no improvement its no big deal as she will stay with me forever - I've had her since a foal (she's now 6 ).

She is however quite bored and has gotten very good at making mischief, including jumping over the electric fence whenever it takes her fancy (not quite sure how much good that does her!). She whizzes round the field and doesn't look lame, and I popped her on the lunge a couple of months back and lunged her for a couple of circuits on the field (so hard surface) - she didn't look noticibly lame like she had before but I didn't think she looked right and thought she looked short striding in front - previously she was noticibly lame on each foreleg on both reins so not sure if this is an improvment or not. She also didnt look lame behind but it was quite hard so not sure what she would be like on a soft surface. So what I am getting at, is would it be wise to maybe start hacking her in the spring? I'm talking about just walking, nothing else, no schooling/lunging, literally just plodding round the lanes. I'm quite torn as on one hand I know she cant really stay in the field the rest of her life as she likes to work, and would just walking round the lanes really do that much damage, but on the other hand I wonder if I were to give her another year....would that mean she could be back up to normal and able to go out and do a bit of competing. The short answer is, I cant afford to spend any more money on her as the insurance has long run out.

Thoughts on this would be welcome - I know its a long way off but I cant really make my mind up on what is the right thing to do with her so it may take me another 6 months to figure that out!!

09-11-09, 07:52 PM
What treatment has she had?

09-11-09, 07:57 PM
For the feet - none other than remedial shoeing/trying pads on her. There was a rather large dispute with the vets and insurers and whilst she had MRI imaging on the feet so we know whats wrong, because of the dispute I wasn't able to get any treatment for her despite there being money left in the pot. This was why I tried pads on her feet but they made no difference so I opted to have her turned out rather than staying stuck in limbo with her on box rest. She had the tendon sheath medicated, she was sound on it for about 2 months whilst on box rest but then it flared up again. When she was initially remdial shod it stopped the lameness in front but it flared up again and thats when she had the MRI.

09-11-09, 08:03 PM
Sounds similar to my horse. We have not medicated the coffin joint yet - but it will come to that. He is doing well remedial shod - but will have the odd 'day'. He is shod with bar shoes and gel pads in front. Like your horse - sound on a straight line, careful on a turn on the hard.

I would work her. Starting from now. The more she is worked, the more the foot will grow, the better you can treat the foot until such time as the foot needs medicating. I wouldn't entertain the idea of working her barefoot - get her shod. And walk the socks off her - as long as she is happy.

You're stuck between a bit of a rock and hard place by the sounds of it. But it's what I'd do if she were mine. It doesn't sound as if she's happy out of work....

09-11-09, 10:31 PM
My mare is on box rest at the moment due to soft tissue damage in her hoof, has a tear in her DDFT and inflamed tendon sheat in left hind leg. She was finally diagnosed via MRI in Sept and has had wedge shoes and on wednesday has egg bars put on. Vets have advised me to then increase her walking round the yard. Sounds like whats going on with us, shes been in since April and by the spring I would like to think we are getting back into work. The opinion seems to be lots of walking and the in hand work we are doing at the moment is aimed to work towards ridden work eventually. She seems happy at the moment but I dont know what we will do if shes not sound by Spring and am terrified she will do damage when she eventually is allowed back into a field. Its all a bit unknown but opinions are that lots of walking is the best way forward so I would suggest this would probably be the way forward for you.

Good luck!

10-11-09, 12:02 PM
I'd leave her alone if she's comfortable enough to get up to mischief. http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif The slight lameness you saw on the lunge could be the same slight lameness you see if you turn away a sound horse, take the shoes off and it tear-arses round. They get sore feet, but its still the most likely way for the soft tissue injuries to repair themselves. I think trying to do dribs and drabs of work with her is just tormenting yourself and won't be particularly likely to stop her amusing herself when turned out.

Can't you get yourself a share horse or something to ride?

10-11-09, 12:07 PM
I have another horse so thats the not the problem and besides I only have time to hack out at weekends through the winter anyway. I am leaving her until the full 12 months is up anyway, I'm just not sure whether to start the walking in the spring or not. I'm probably going to get her looked at again by another vet in the spring to see if she is still lame or not, but if she's just the same as before (which was only lame on circles) then I don't know if just walking her is a good or a bad thing. The vet who I had previously had advised me to just stick her on bute and carry on as before, which I wont be doing!

10-11-09, 12:24 PM
I would say that your priority has to be making sure that there is no recurrence of what caused the damage in the first place. With that in mind I would book an appointment with a specialist lameness farrier and have her shod / trimmed according to their recommendations to make sure that her feet are properly balanced and allow for continued healing of the soft tissue damage and start hacking her gently - definately no schooling or lungeing - and see how she goes.

Hopefully that will help to occupy her mind and stop her from looking for mischief and will improve the circulation in the feet helping to speed a full recovery.

10-11-09, 12:45 PM
my horse (who was rising 6 at the time) had soft tissue damage on both fronts due to being trimmed very badly. 3/4 of an inch had to be taken off the outsides of both feet!!

he got trimmed and shod properly by a fab farrier (he had medial lifts for a short while to help with his hoof balance)
Pretty much from the day he was trimmed properly he was sound, but he did have the soft tissue damage so i had to go carefully.

Vet and farrier agreed that he had to be walked out on a flat level surface (roadwork basically) building up the time over a period of 3 weeks, then start riding in walk out on hacks avoiding deep boggy areas. then just carry on a normal fitness plan from then.

he was turned out 24/7 and i sometimes did the road work then walked him in the school.

i also let him play with gym balls, tarpaulins 'spooky' objects in the school which he loved!

i was never told to turn him away and leave him though. But then he did only have a problem with the fronts.

10-11-09, 01:21 PM
Turning a horse away without shoes can only have the best chance of working if the horse is still being regularly trimmed and the foot balance issues addressed.

I use a DAEP and part of the programme is hand walking initially in pads and boots, which has to be done daily, it's part of stimulating the hoof and rebuilding its structure. There is then a spectrum of usability that you work your way up, depending on what the horse is capable of at that time. This ensures that on a proper barefoot programme, the horse is never uncomfortable, this only occurs when owners want to rush things and exceed the spectrum of usabilty.

But anyway, I would think gentle ridden work would be quite possible on the advice of your farrier or EP, but your horse would benefit enormously from hoof boots, e.g. Old Macs. Also if you can get hold of sole mates therapeutic pads to put inside the boots that would be even better.

I could let you borrow my set of Old Macs if you want Alex as I don't use them any more and you are near me. PM me if you get to that stage and want to give them a go. Mine are size 5 and 6.

10-11-09, 01:24 PM
It's difficult to say in this situation. Jesper is 100% field sound but everytime we've brought him back in to work he's gone lame. We originally turned him away for a year following MRI confirming collateral ligament damage. He was brought back in to light work very slowly but every few weeks would have an off couple of days where his stride would be noticeably shortened. My vet did advise he would probably never return to his full floaty stride and this was simply his compromise.
We retired Jesper in Feb as he was still intermittently lame. The vets said we could bute and carry on hacking him but it didn't seem fair. Personally I'd ask the vets opinion and go from there. However if she's not come completely sound after a year off I wouldn't think another year would herald much further improvement.
Sorry to not be more positive.

10-11-09, 03:07 PM
However if she's not come completely sound after a year off I wouldn't think another year would herald much further improvement.
Sorry to not be more positive.

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See this is what is on my mind, if by spring there is no difference then I cant say as I can see what improvement there will be by her spending another year in the field, hence why I'm wondering whether just to let her get on with gentle hacking (without bute but shod) as she does so enjoy going out and about. Of course I would need to gradually introduce this to her but I cant really see that walking out on the roads is going to be that much worse than her hooning around the field in the mud.

When she originally had the foot balance sorted she went sound, but then at some stage it all went wrong again and she is still slightly lame. The original plan was to start the walking programme with her (this was when she was sound in front), but then the insurers got all nigly and wanted her to go to the RVC for another opinion, she then developed foot abscesses and thats when she started to be lame again and has been ever since, so the walking never started. I made the decision with my vets and farriers approval to turn her away without shoes as I couldn't bear to keep her in any longer on box rest when it was making no difference other than turning her into a caged monster! I figured that by removing her shoes it would allow her feet to grow out and hopefully being shoeless would stimulate her feet more to encourage them to repair. Her feet are 10 times better shaped now than they were when the shoes first came off - she had really contracted heels and her feet were very narrow and upright (even though balance wise they were perfect as she had shoes with lateral extensions and something else but I cant quite remember!!) whereas now they have spread nicely which can only be a good thing as more weight bearing surface. Anyway, shall see what the spring brings and have a chat with the vet as to whether I will make things worse by starting walking her on the lanes.

15-11-09, 11:28 PM
My mum had a young dressage horse who presented with low grade lameness. Box rest failed to resolve it, so my mum had him MRI scanned to get to the bottom of the problem quickly.
Sadly it revealed soft tissue damage in his off fore... which the vet thought was an old injury prior to my mum purchasing him.
This particular vet is a lameness specialist and is used by a number of proffessional Dressage riders, and he was going to use a method of 'potting' the foot for four weeks to stabilise the joint, however decided that it was unlikely it would work in this particluar instance. He was also concerned as the foot was showing signs of contracting - apparently this treatment causes contraction too.
What he was able to say was that he was never going to be a Dressage horse, however he also didn't think he was quite ready to be PTS and could do some level of ridden work if managed correctly, but he would deteriorate as time went on. He had months of field rest and his shoes off and looked level before he went back to his previous yard.
PM me if you want his details..... it may be worth a 2nd opinion (although he's a long way away from you and he may know someone nearer).
I think this type if injury is very difficult, and each case different from the next, and depends on the horses purpose.
I wish you all the best in getting your horse right again, its a horrible thing to have to go through.....