It all started 10 days ago, following a gallop the night before (which went without issue) Jack came in a little bit unsound in his off fore (opposite leg to last time!). He wasn't really lame and whilst it was concerning I wasn't too worried initially, there was no heat or swelling and no sign of injury. Not wanting to jump to conclusions I decided I'd just give him a few days rest to see if there was any improvement, it was a Friday anyway and he had worked hard for the last few weeks so he had the weekend off. He comes in during the day and is out at night anyway to keep him off too much of the spring grass that's coming through and stop him getting too porky! As he seemed no better on the Monday I contacted my farrier, who was due to shoe him later that week, to see if he could fit us in any earlier. He came on the Wednesday afternoon and removed the shoe with me watching on carefully, hoping to see an abscess was bubbling under the surface! No such luck and the hoof looked perfectly healthy, Dave my farrier had a good look and found nothing and no reaction to hoof testers, he felt it was a joint. So with anything simple like a hoof abscess ruled out (it never seems to be simple when it comes to Jack!) and no improvement in the lameness I rang the vets. They were coming to the yard the following Monday 10th April for routine vaccinations anyway so I added Jack onto that visit. I then set about clipping out his hairy legs to see if there was anything the feather was hiding. I did notice a little swelling just above the fetlock so in addition to putting his magnetic back pad and hock boots on during the day I started cold hosing the leg and then bandaging while he was in. Having booked the vet he then seemed to come sound on the Thursday and I gave him a little lunge in walk and trot in the ménage and on the concrete and he looked fine! I didn't want to cancel the vet visit yet as when he injured his palmer annular ligament last autumn he had days were he looked sound and other days being lame so I decided I would ride him on the Friday but still get the vet to check him over on the Monday, even if he seems sound. When I tried him on the Friday he felt fine in walk but still not sound in trot. I also noticed that he seemed much more comfortable when he had been out over night, he was walking in from the field sound but in the afternoons when he has been stood in all day he is markedly worse. The first few steps he takes when he comes out the stable are quite startling with him barely weight bearing and looks like he might have an abscess but within 3/4 steps he is walking almost normally.
With the vet coming at 9am Monday morning I was at the farm at 6am to bring Jack in so that he would have been stood in for a few hours before they arrived and I could show the vet the lameness at its worse.
The Vet that came was the original vet that came out to Jack 3 years ago, diagnosed him with Kissing Spines and did the post op visits following his surgery so he knew jacks history pretty well and was very interested in how well his back has healed and what rehab I had done with him.
We discussed Jacks current issues and his recent Palmer annular ligament injury then the vet had a good look at the affected leg and hoof. He then asked me to walk him out the stable and Jack demonstrated his dramatic lameness for the first couple of strides before walking it off and walking almost normally again. The vet then watched me walk and trot him up in a straight line on hard ground and on a tight circle. After this he suggested nerve blocks to narrow down the area affected. He started at the bottom blocking out only the hoof to start with, this made no improvement so he went on to block from the fetlock down and this resulted in Jack trotted up sound. Armed with this information plus the swelling of the fetlock and reaction to palpitation the vet feels the problem is in either the fetlock, pastern or coffin joint but x-rays would be needed to confirm this and identify the exact issue. X-rays are booked in for 2 days time. He is confident it is not another soft tissue injury.
Whilst I was pretty gutted the vet was very encouraging, he said Jack's back and near fore have both healed so well and I have rehabbed him fully from both successfully there is no reason to think at the moment that I cannot do the same again. He commented how strong his back is now. I asked him about the near fore and if he felt there were any remaining issues in that leg or if it was suffering from being put under additional strain now so soon after already having its own injury. He advised that leg is fine now and showing no ill effects, if there was any issue in the near fore it would have shown up when he nerve blocked the off fore and it didn't so we can be confident that is fully healed and back to full, normal function.
I am now looking forward to Wednesday afternoon when we will get x-rays images taken and should know more about what we are dealing with and be able to formulate a plan to get Jack better.
Keeping everything crossed it's something that we can come back from fairly quickly.
Waiting for the Vet 10.4.17