Marla's Visit from the VetWhen Marla arrived at MeadowLark on Dec 1 she weighed about #400 over her ideal weight and presented moderate lameness in her right front hoof/leg. The potential to develop laminitis concerned me the most. Again, the path forward was clear; lose the weight! I hoped that as she shed pounds, the weight bearing lameness would resolve. While working an unsound horse is never ideal, the often sad reality is that "resting" in a pasture is not always the answer for a horse that is going into rehab work. Human Physical Therapists witness this conundrum frequently. Regardless, a lack of useful purpose, i.e. work, and activity got Marla into this mess in the first place. Happily, as Marla has lost weight, her lameness has improved.
Aside from her uneven stride, Marla had other concerning items on her medical history. She has a history of allergies and a hair analysis showed that she had shed toxic levels of heavy metals from her body. Her stature also points to some type of metabolic syndrome. Dr. Esterline, from Kern Road Veterinary Clinic met Marla this week and was able to answer all of my questions about her. The hair analysis was not concerning to him, if she had shown heavy metals in a blood analysis, that would be different. Hair tells us what has been in out environment at one time. Mar has been thriving, so I was not as concerned about the heavy metals, especially as her environment had changed when she moved.
The most concerning issue presented at Marla's wellness exam was her persistent unsoundness. Dr. Esterline performed a flexion test. A flexion test keeps the horse's leg flexed for a minute and then is asked to trot off in a straight line. Any arthritis will be visible during a flexion test. Although I opted not to do x-rays at this time, Dr. Esterline diagnosed Marla as having Ringbone. This concurred with her symptoms and with what her previous veterinarian had said. Ringbone is a degenerative osteoarthritis of the coffin bone. Marla would need x-rays to determine the extent and exact location of her Ringbone. At this point Mar is only at the beginning to this issue, and sound management will slow the progress. Correct and frequent hoof care, joint supplements, and training her to work off her haunches will be essential, but most importantly, KEEP LOSING WEIGHT.