Apologies for the length of this post, I have posted about Rusky before but things are getting desperate now and I really need to identify what is going on.
R is a 16.2hh, 14yo WB gelding I have owned for 9-10 years and do dressage with. In a typical week he might be schooled 2-3 times and lunged twice in an Equiami. He used to work at Ad Med level but not with any great pressure, our progress has been glacial!
More than a year ago he started doing an odd thing with his hind leg (one at a time, but either leg). In a surface, in walk he would place the leg down and it would give way as if unable to support his weight. The hoofprint in the sand would be a lot deeper than any of his other ones but with no evidence of slipping. At first he was doing this maybe once every two months so I wasn't 100% sure it was happening.
Over time his symptoms have been:
- collapsing of the back leg (either leg but one at a time), ridden, on the lunge or in hand, ranging from mild to almost 'sitting down'.
- gradually more and more similar collapsing of the front legs. He has almost fallen on his knees ridden and we've seen him fall over in the field.
- impressive loss of muscle from top line and abdominals.
- unwillingness to engage, move forwards or collect.
- intermittently unwilling to have his feet picked up and will lift his hinds up really high after his hooves have been done (the only evidence of stringhalt type behaviour so far). He also collapsed fully in the stable while being shod. He had all 4 feet on the ground, he seemed to fall sideways onto the partition, pull back and end up forwards on his knees.
- he is a bit fussy about his back legs, lifting them when doing up rugs.
In the summer he saw the local vet twice who said it was a soft tissue problem and did two osteo treatments - he still got worse.
We then went to a specialist and saw two different vets with his notes being sent to a specialist radio and a specialist neuro in the US. He seems to have:
- x-ray evidence of kissing spines. This was first treated with steroid injections and along with the bar shoes below he was better for a couple of months, then regressed. A month ago he had Tildren IV but he does not seem significantly better this time although he is less reactive to pain in the saddle/behind the saddle area. There is no point thinking about a KS op if we don't get to the bottom of the neuro problems - vets all in agreement that the neuro issue is not typical of KS and needs to be accounted for.
- on the second visit he presented with 2/5ths lameness on left front when lunged on the hard and the hoof was reactive. He was fitted with bar shoes and was sound at the next two visits. Still has the bars on.
- fine at neuro exam performed twice (e.g. small circles, small figures of 8, backing up, walking with head in air, up and down bank, walking while vet pulls his tail).
- x-rays and ultrasound of neck and back show no evidence of arthritis or spinal nerve impingement, HOWEVER the US neuro specialist says that what I describe sounds neurological and the impingement may be occuring when his head/neck are in a particular position. He certainly seems worse after lateral work and lately after being on the lunge. To diagnose this kind of issue we would need to do a myelogram under GA and then the only possible treatment is an op to fuse the vertebrae with long box rest so the vet and I think this is too much to put him through.
For the past 3 weeks I have had him on an EMPS diet but there is no improvement so far.
Here is a video of him from yesterday. Sod's law he's never done the impressive collapses on video, there is a little one around 5.40 and maybe at 6.15 but overall you can see that he is moving very poorly behind:
Any ideas anyone?