Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Inflammation: Is it Arthritis?

(Amber and Bo approximately seven years ago)So....most of you know by now that Amber leased Bo for six years, the owner took him back so he could sit in a pasture (and have five years of his life wasted!), and that this past May, she (the owner) decided to give him to us now that he is 20, and she was moving to Colorado...how generous of her! I make her sound like an awful person, and really she is not, but I do get angry when I think that Bo was neglected (at her parents house), for five years that we could have been using him. Amber tried multiple times over the past five years to buy him from her, but she never wanted to part with him...even though she did absolutely nothing with him. OK, I am done ranting now...as you can tell, the subject frustrates me!
What I am trying to say is that because we had Bo before, we know most of his history, and honestly, up until the past five years, he was well taken care of (you know the story...girl buys yearling horse, trains him, shows him, leases him out, takes him back, moves out of parents house and sees horse once a year, oblivious to the fact that he is not being well cared for by parents who know better...).
There I go again! I better watch out...lol!!!

Some of you may remember that I mentioned having some issues with Bo and swelling. Well here is a picture of Bo the day after a ride, and before being ridden (notice his pasterns and fetlocks on all four legs being swollen)...
...and here he is on the same day after we got back from a trail ride...notice that there is no more swelling.This is where the history part comes in. When Amber had Bo before, after a particularly long ride, or a hard weekend of showing, his hind legs only, would swell up from his pasterns to his hocks. We had the vet out several times, both when there was swelling present, and when there wasn't, and they ( "they" being a mobile equine practice with three vets, who all saw him at one point or another ) x-rayed him, ultrasounded him, poked him, prodded him, and could never find a reason for the swelling. They finally concluded that she should hose/ice down his hind legs after a long ride, wrap them, and keep him moving as much as possible to keep the swelling down. The funny thing was that he could be swollen, go out on a ride, come back, and have no more swelling again...it was very idiopathic. (When the old owner was asked about it, she said that he did occasionally seem a bit "puffy" after a ride, but that it was never a problem)
Obviously then, we have not been surprised that Bo's pasterns and fetlocks will sometimes swell up after a ride, but it is different than before, in that it is never up to his hocks, and that it occasionally involves all four legs. We are assuming that this swelling may be due to arthritis, and are looking into putting him on a joint supplement, and/or MSM, and/or glucosamine ( I will refer back to Pony Girl's post on joint supplements!).
So I am throwing this issue out there to you, my knowledgeable blogging pals, to see if you have run into similar issues with older horses. He does have some minor heat when there is obvious inflammation, and on the day that the above pictures were taken, we gave him some bute prior to the ride, since he had been ridden the day before as well, and we wanted him to be comfortable. He would swell up very minutely over the summer, and that is another reason that I am leaning towards arthritis...the fact that it is getting more noticeable now that it is cold and damp out. Oh and just so you know...the day after the pictures were taken, after two consecutive days of riding, he had no swelling at all...go figure!
Any ideas? Please fire away, and thanks ahead of time for your input! :)

16 comments:

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I have no insights or ideas at all, having only one horse who is only 15 yrs old.

But I just wanted to say that I think it's great that your family took BoBo back to live a full and active life at your place.
He looks absolutely amazing and so healthy. His swelling doesn't even look too bad. Does he limp or have any stiffness?

I just think it's great that you've given a BoBo a new lease on life. He's a realy nice horse :)

~Lisa

lytha said...

hey, that reminds me. baasha used to have this same problem! i'd completely forgotten about his stocking up issues.

it was during his dressage years, when he lived in a barn (bad!) and he'd get edema in both hind legs just as you described with bo. it only happened when he was stalled after work, it was quite obviously due to lack of movement.

the vet said once the tissues become loose and edema occurs often, there is no use wrapping, the edema will always come back. but we were encouraged to leave him outside.

he had the typical windpuffs that a hard working endurance horse has, and now he has arthritis, which limits his work. i do not think the stocking up and arthritis are linked in any way.

if bo is outside after you guys ride, then that is the most important thing you can do for him.

now that i'm 37, i stock up, myself, after an airplane ride. my husband uses these support stockings, which i think are ridiculous, but he never gets puffy ankles after 10 hour flights!

i hope others can be more help, but you did remind me of baasha's past!

~lytha in germany

Meg said...

I am with you on this one...arthritis...poor thing....It sounds like you have done your homework. God Bless!

Mrs Mom said...

OK< 20M needs to have her rump "rubbed" (if you know what i mean,) for calling me "all knowing" lol.

OK- No, I don't agree with arthritis. Why? It is not going to affect soft tissue. Arthritic changes occur in the joints and bony structures, and are generally due to changes in the bone, lack of synovial fluid around the joints, and past injury to the joints or bones.

What I see is "irritation." Cold hosing after the ride is way way RIGHT, but wrapping... I'd shy away from that. Post ride, cold hose, cool him out carefully, and try a rub with linament (Absorbine, Bigeloil, etc.)

Lots of walking to warm up and cool down, and even a good rub before hand with linament might help as well.

This is not just an "older horse" issue by any means- a horse who has contracted heels, high heels, etc will also stock up like this. Obviously, confinement will stock them up, which you already know to keep him turned out.

That's my first thoughts, and the first step I'd try. Long, slow warm ups, not a lot of circles to warm up or cool down, and rub him down with linament. Consider a joint supplement too- something with MSM in it. (Honestly, I go to WalMart, and buy Flex-A-Min. I use it for ME, and I also use it for Sonny and other horses that have leg issues.) Flex-A-Min contains MSM, Chondrotin, Glucoasmine, and Hylaronic Acid. Good stuff- with out it I can't move!!

Good luck with the old gent, and please give him a great big smooch from me!!

Melanie said...

Lisa, Lytha, and Mrs. Mom, and Jewel (Jewel sent me an e-mail)-

Thank you all for your input...I really appreciate it! :)

No limping, but sometimes I think that I notice a little bit of stiffness (probably the arthritis, right?).

We always just assumed that it was stocking up issues, but like I said, it has always been so sporadic.
He also no longer gets stalled, so he is able to move around his paddock at free will.

Mrs. Mom, thanks for mentioning the heel issue, but our farrier and the vets looked in to all of that as well. This being said, our farrier will be out next week, so I will run it by him again (he was the same guy that we had when we previously owned Bo). I was curious about it being arthritis, because of his age, and because it would maybe give us an answer, but I guess the cause will remain a mystery.

It must just be a "Bo" thing, and as long as it does not appear to be causing any discomfort, I will assume it is stocking up.

Am I right though, in assuming that the slight stiffness may be arthritis?

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Not to give you something else to worry about...buutttt...

Stocking up or fluids in the front legs is usually an indication of heart troubles. I almost never worry about stocking up in hind legs, but when a horse starts stocking up in the front legs, I would start looking for other things besides arthritis or inflammation.

On a less severe note-you might want to calculate how much protein Bo is getting. High levels of protein, especially in older horses can lead to puffiness in the lower legs. Reducing his protein level and raising his fat intake could help.

Paige said...

I agree that while he may well be a touch arthritic, that is not causing the stocking up.

Is he turned out most of the time? (sorry I am new, I dont know) That cures a lot of ills

Denise- LessIsMore17 said...

I've never worried much about stocking up that rights itself after a workout as long as there is no heat or painfulness.
I hope it's nothing serious, but Browneyed CGs made me think back about a dog that had heart failure and his feet and front legs swelled up.

Melanie said...

BEC-
Ughhh...as a nurse, the exact same thing crossed my mind! However, I am pretty sure that if it were heart related, he would always have the swelling or pooling in his lower extremeties.

The protein issue crossed my mind as well, because he was out of his senior supplement (high fat content) for two weeks, and had to have a lot more hay(alfalfa...high protein)to make up for it.

He did not have any visible inflammation during the summer months, with his front legs, so maybe it is a combination of the glitch in his diet, the weather, and stocking up? Who knows? You guys are giving me all sorts of ideas, which is excellent! :)

I am definitely going to call the vet and run this by her or her tech though!

Melanie said...

Paige-
Welcome! Yes, Bo is turned out in a large area with a shed for his shelter. He also has one of his pals out there with him, so he moves around quite a bit, although I am sure that he he spends a fair amount of time just standing there too...lol!!!

Denise-
I am looking into the heart thing today!

Paige said...

hmmm..hope you get him lined out--I know there are things you can give them for retaining like that.

I am glad he is comfy even if he is puffy

Paige said...

Melanie, how crazy, I live near Trenton and have a good friend there--I could not find an email for you to tell you that, so here I am posting it here. I live 45 miles from there

Cara said...

Twenty is still young enough to have a long usefull life left. Janow's neighbor is a 30 year old Arabian and he gets ridden daily. This may be cosmetic. It may get better with care and time. It may not. You might figure it out, it might remain one of life's myseries. You should definitly pursue it. Also keep in mind that you don't want to spend all your retirement. Keep perspctive, keep solvent. Best wishes to you and Bo. Silver also sends rabbit mojo.

Melanie said...

Paige-
What a small world we live in!

Andrea said...

I was going to stay stocking up. Vetrolin. That is the best stuff. just rub it on his legs. It's like Icy Hot. but just the Icy part. It feels really good. And you could do a standing wrap. That would help too. My mare gets stocked up in the back when she is stalled over night. Poor blood circulation. Happens when we get older. Vetrolin, it's good stuff. Get it in the gel form. :)

Pony Girl said...

My Boy stocks up too, if he is stalled. His hind legs (fetlocks) kind of puff up, but after 10 mins. of walking, they go down. He does well in a pasture where he can walk around all day, I have rarely noticed the problem since then.
You are lucky your Bobo is back in your life and so well-loved and treated!