So after a week of riding at walk, I popped Scottie into trot and he was still lame. No where near as lame as he had been, but he was still lame. I got off and the next day had a quick look at him in the lunge. Once again he was lame, improved but still lame. So I decided it was time to look into what exactly is going on.
Yesterday our vet arrived and I ran him through what had been going on and that we were fairly sure it was in the right foot. After running through the usual tests of trotting up on the hard, lunging on the hard and soft and flexion tests, he agreed that it was most likely in the right foot. So the next step was to nerve block. This would identify if the pain was in the foot or not and hopefully by nerve blocking the right foot, it would highlight any issues in the left.
Once the nerve block had had a few minutes to kick in, we lunged Scottie on the hard and soft once again. There was a definite improvement in the right foot, confirming all of our thoughts about the lameness originating from there. However, there was surprisingly no lameness at all in the left foot. Which is obviously a good thing!
Since we now knew the issue was in the foot, Scottie had some X-Rays done. I think Scottie quite enjoyed all of this as he was fascinated by all the equipment, especially the lead overalls we had to wear! I think the vet was fairly surprised at how good the X-Rays were for a horse of his age, with his conformation and the fact he has raced! The X-Ray showed very slight navicular changes in the right foot, but nothing he would be too worried about. The right foot also had slight change to the tip of the pedal bone, which is commonly seen with laminitis! Although the vet thinks this is purely due to his flat feet and doesn’t think he has laminitis. The left foot was even better, with the tiniest amount of navicular changes, but nothing you wouldn’t expect to see.
I got the impression that the vet was surprised to see so little there and since Scottie has never been a wimpy horse, it makes me think that perhaps the pain is more soft tissue than bone, as you can’t see this on an x-ray. But he was reluctant to say either way due to the lack of evidence, which is fair enough. In my head, it being soft tissue related could explain why he was 4-5/10s lame the first time he trotted up lame for us but isn’t showing much on the x-rays. But we won’t know for sure unless we MRI scan.
The vet seemed fairly confident that the issues all come from his conformation and that if we can improve his foot shape he should come sound. And since there seems to be such little change to be seen, hopefully we have caught it fairly early and can really get on top of it.
Our next steps are very similar to what we have been doing so far. We are giving him another months rest and passing the x-rays onto my farrier so we can come up with a new shoeing plan. My vet would like the farrier to try really chopping his toes back and has a few shoes in mind specifically made for horses with navicular. If there isn’t any improvement after this, then it will be time to investigate further.
He said we could nerve block the different joints in the hoof to identify where exactly the issue is and we could MRI scan. Then were are also drug treatments available such as steroid injections. So with so much left for us to try, I am confident we will get somewhere with it all. And the vet seemed to feel the same.