Friday, February 19, 2010

My Boy's Vet Appointment

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that My Boy had been off at the trot the past few weeks. I had a suspicion of what was going on as I could not detect an apparent injury, heat, or swelling. But I am not a vet and I wanted her to check him out and make recommendations for treatment.

After a lameness flex test, she rated My Boy a grade 3/5 on his left hind. A year and a half-ago, I had a chiropractor check him out, which you can read about here. At that time, he was a grade 1/5 on that hind, with stiffness in both hind hocks and in the left fetlock. I opted not to do x-rays at this time. My vet said that typically the x-rays would just confirm what we'd be treating anyway. If the treatments we try are not successful, then I will do x-rays.

The diagnosis is "presumed arthritis," the presumed meaning the best diagnosis based on past exam and current examination. I am going to admit something to you. I am an awful horse mother. I took my horse off his joint supplement this winter, as I was questioning whether it was really effective. It is so confusing, so many different brand names, different price points, different combination of ingredients and amounts....and none of it is regulated. How do you really know what you are putting into your horse? I suppose whether or not you notice an improvement or change in your horse's lameness or movement is one of the best ways to rate a supplement's effectiveness.

Now I am thinking that it had been helping him, since he's noticeably worse off of it. There are other factors too- winter weather affecting the joints, My Boy's poor hock build (very upright), former injuries on the left leg from when he was a yearling, lack of consistent exercise this winter, etc. All of these factors have combined to make a pretty sore horse. So what to do now?

The vet gave me several options. 1) Steroid joint injections. 2) Steroid joint injections plus something else called Hyisc. (I can't remember what this is?) 3) IRAP (click here to read more. It has something to do with removing a blood sample, treating it with a protein, then re-injecting it into the joint, working with the horse's own system. It sounds great, but costs $735 for 1st visit plus $250 for each additional visit. Yikes.) 4) Adequan injections. 5)Surpass (non-systemic) or bute to manage pain.

My Boy enjoying a few minutes of grazing after the very traumatic lameness exam. If you know my horse, you know that being in the presence of anyone with a "DVM" after their name is very, very scary, indeed!

The vet didn't think my horse would be a good candidate for Adequan injections because they need to be done frequently- and he is such a nightmare about shots. And by nightmare I mean, nearly impossible without restraining, and if he even thinks you are restraining him for a needle, he won't let you restrain him. She said that recent studies have shown that a vial of Adequan every 4 days for a total of seven treatments, repeated every 6 months, has been most effective. That would be a nightmare month of needles for me and my horse.

For now, my horse is going back on joint supplement. I am going to try pure MSM. I want to see if that helps. I will also put him on a glucosamine/chondroitin, like he was previously. This spring, I am probably going to have him get steroid injections. The vet said this would probably help him through the spring/summer riding season. She also said that when used properly, I could bute him before long rides. I also have Surpass, a topical pain relief cream that you apply directly to the hock, that she said has good success. I have never tried it because I get nervous applying things to my horse's skin.

Arthritis is a pain. Literally. It is degenerative. At around age 15, horses stop producing synovial fluid, the lubricant inside their joints. When the fluid begins to lose its viscosity, joint friction and inflammation can occur (I just got this from the recent issue of Horse & Rider magazine, in an article on reining horses.)

However, arthritis is also manageable, and I will have to find a course of treatment that works for My Boy. He is a pleasure horse, we mostly trail ride, and I feel that I can manage his pain and help him enjoy out his years until retirement. I think he has many good years left in him, but I don't want him to be sore and hurting. That can cause a whole host of other problems, from compensating on other joints resulting in more soreness, irritability and behavior problems, etc.

On a bit of a positive note, we've been getting some beautiful February sunshine! It's been so warm in the sun....all the horses have been relaxing and soaking it up. Paint Girl's mares have their sunny spot by the cedar stumps, and even the goats wandered out of their barn to chew their cuds.

I tried to get My Boy to prick his ears toward me (I was back at the Mustang filly's pasture and zoomed in to get this shot) but he would have nothing to do with posing for me. Obviously, sun-drunk.

Do you have a horse with arthritis? What has worked for your horse? Any insight or recommendations you've gained, positive or negative, from your experience? As I am still weighing all of my different options, I would appreciate any advice you may have!


  1. I have had decent luck with Legacy pellets. Reasonably priced and available locally at most feed stores. Cheapest at the Graham Hay Market.

  2. UGHH so sorry to hear the mess for your poor boy!! You are NOT a bad horse mommy!! Nothing is an exact science for horses, it is alot of trial and error as no horse is the same! It is perfectly reasonable for you to have taken him off and watched to see changes! You have done a great job and he will get to feeling better!! I am no help as far as what's goes for arthritis as I haven't had to deal with any of that yet...Hopefully never will :)

  3. I am sorry to read about your Boy's problems.
    I hope you can find the right method that will help him get better again.
    I think putting him on MSM and glucosamin is a good decision.
    You should not feel bad because you took him off these supplements this winter because apparently it's better to not give that stuff year around anyways...

  4. Don't beat yourself up on the supplements. It was a judgement call and it didn't work out. No biggie and it's not like it's been years and years!

    Stanley is 13 and has shown a lot his whole life so he's always worked pretty hard and surprisingly enough, has very little arthritis but that little touch of it in his hocks is starting to show so last fall we did a round of Legend injections (3 injections a week apart) and he was like a yearling flying around the field! You could especially notice it in his hunt trot - just really floaty and light. We'll probably do them again this spring before show season this year.

    Our vet told us that keeping him moving a lot is not a bad thing and it's probably because he's never had a lot of time off that he's actually doing so well - that and just having really good bone structure. I do notice that when he's off for 5-6 days and then we go to ride he's rather creaky and needs a longer warm up period which we are very careful about anyway.

    Good luck! It will all work out.

  5. I'm in the same boat you are right now with Sonny's hocks. The trauma our guys dealt with is different, but they both seem to feel about the same lately.

    Fingers crossed for your sweet man. There are so many choices out there it does get confusing. I've got a "thing" about needles myself, and worry about the invasiveness of joint injections, so we won't be going that route.

    FIngers crossed that your program works out perfectly!! It'll be really encouraging!!

  6. Lily got a shot in her ... Okay, it's that part right near the cornet band... on her right front. Then she gets a dose of cosequin twice a day. I had reduced it too because I worry about liver function with medications, but slowly she got worse. We're building back up. Now she's heavy on the front end, so we need to see what THAT's about.

    But she's worth it. :) Aren't they all?

  7. I have A LOT of experience. Naigen had terrible arthritis and because of careful management she was ridden a minimum of once a week up until I had to euthanise her.
    First I tried MSM and it worked alright. I gave her small doses of bute on days she was ouchy, before we trailered or did parties etc. I had her on msn for a few months but the vet suggested glucosamine/condriton. I did D-Mac for a wile. It worked very well and I know a lot of horses that are on it. I wanted to try something more natural so I went the way of the Omega alpha company. Remember that products, especially natural herb ones like the omega alpha are "cleansing" supplements. They cleans the body of toxins depending on what supplement you use. Within a week of being on antiflam my old mare was BUCKING!! What the hell!? This old mare rarely ran around and would always much rather stand and sleep but she got excited and BUCKED! I was hooked. I work at a lot of different barns nnd this supplement is taking the horse world by storm. Every barn I am at there is at least 2 horses on a supplement by this company. The one gelding you can really tell if he has missed a dose. He gets ouchy overnight. I also used their wormer (para-X) for the last 6 months and have had fecal samples done and wadda ya know my horses are worm free. I havent put chemical wormer in them for months.
    Also as I tell EVERYONE because I LOVE this stuff and guaranteed you will to. Get Arnica gel for him. You can get it at any pharmacy. You rub it wherever they have ouchies. You gotta get the gel though the creme does not work well with horse hair. I can tell from experience that if I am going to get a big, bad bruise I use this stuff. It will still hurt like a bruise but it will not turn weird colours. Every time. Did I mention arnica is natural too! I always have a bottle in the barn. It helped heal Indigo more than once.

  8. MSM not msn, hahah you can tell what my brain was on.
    I forgot to add my mother has rhumatoid arthritis and uses arnica every day. She just had surgery on her foot. She has pins sticking out of four toes and a bone broken right near the ball of her foot because it was dislocated due to arthritis. She used arnica on her ankle and places she could get to and by the fourth day using it the black bruising was turning green and not black. Where she can't put it? Well it's still black.

  9. Is it too high up to "nerve" him if you have to someday? I've never done that, but the vet has said if Cowboy's P3 fracture gets too arthritic at some point, he'd recommend it as a last ditch effort.

    When we still used our old guy for 4-H there was a supplement for arthritis we purchased from the vet, but I can't remember the name (I'll research it and get back)--it was in a large tub--powder--had MSM and gluc and everything else. It worked like magic. But, of course, it was expensive--or so I thought at the time. It was like 60.00 a tub, I think--and didn't last all that long when used at the recommended dose--but then again, looking back, that doesn't seem like a lot of money for how good it worked. He was 22--arthritic in the right shoulder--couldn't get on that lead without it. With it, he ran like the young studs. A little Bute before a ride, too, always helps. And I believe in exercise. Good luck!!!!!!

  10. I've had very good luck with Aspirease - it's just buffered aspirin - which gets added to the feed.

  11. I am so jealous about how green your grass is! I can't stand anymore of this winter! Good luck with My Boy!

  12. I hope your treatment works out for him. I'll look forward to hearing as I have a 19 year old QH gelding and may need to begin something like this for him as well...Thanks for the info

  13. Best results I had were with Cortaflex/CortaRX contains,among other things
    MSM and Hyaluronic Acid, alos Yucca and Devils claw (these work like a daily dose of bute,without the gut upset that bute can cause)
    There is a higher cost initially while you are giving a "loading dose" getting to a theraputic level ,then it is reduced to mainatance and quite cost effective.
    Don't beat yourself up , you have to try things and change it up now and then

  14. my mini stallion has arthritis in his back right leg and we give him adequan shots and it works great......, he stands with his lead rope over his back during the administering of the shot and doesn't move .......i hope things work out pg, ...........

  15. Boy I understand how confusing the whole joint supplement thing is. I put my older, arthritic horse on Recovery EQ. I had my vet and farrier tell me, at two completely different times, that they were taking the human version of this supplement and it helped them. I figured that was a good reason to give it a try. My horse seems to be doing well and I assume it is because of the supplement.You might want to look into it. Just google it and you will find different places to buy it and more information.

  16. I am so sorry about My Boy. That is not great news, but at least it wasn't something worse... I don't have any experience with an arthritic horse, I apologize, I did I would definitely help you out.

    I am hoping for the best.

  17. I don't know a lot about arthritis, but there is one company I've bought supplements from that I recommend. Their website is They explain different supplements and use only quality ingredients.

  18. Has your vet suggested Legend? Unfortunately its an injection, but its only once a month (after a loading dose) and has been proven very successful. It is Hyaluronic Acid, which is exactly what the joints need. Also, the Surpass stuff does work great. Good luck, picking an oral joint supplement can be a real pain.

  19. I don't have any experience with arthritis (except my own) either, but I hope you're able to get him comfortable. You aren't a bad mom. Better to check and know that what you were doing is/was making a difference rather than just continuing to do something blindly.

  20. Don't beat yourself up! I took Cessa off her joint supplement for exactly the same reason.

    Like MB she showed that yes they were working. My poor girl, she was pretty stiff and sore and I felt terrible. But it was the only way to see if they work.
    Lots of vets say that the feed thru joint stuff is not reliable. The one I was using did make a difference but I can't get it here anymore.
    I put Cessa on a new supplement, its glucosamine in a powder form. I just sprinkle it into her grain pail and she eats it right up. The two boys don't get grain so they are on an injectable form of glucosamine. (guess that's not on option for your guy though)

    Whichever route you take has to be the one that works for you AND your horse. Do your research and get some opinions like you are. I'm sure you'll reach a decision that you're happy with :)

  21. I have unfortunately had a lot of experience with horses and dogs with arthritis. So, briefly, here's what's worked for my girls. I give Silk Equinyll which contains glucosamine, chondritin, MSM and Hylac acid (Sp?). There are several combos of Equinyl, so if you try it, be sure to get the one with all of that stuff. It also has something in it to soothe their stomachs - a worry with all this joint medicine. And I can tell you that Adequan really works well. My dog couldn't walk at all and after the series of shots, she was so much better. As far as giving shots to horses who hate them, last time Miss Siete - who was previously horrible about it - got some grain in her feed bucket just as the vet gave her the shots and it worked like a charm. So, I hope this helps. It's very confusing, but once you find the right combination of supplements and treatment, I have a feeling that My Boy will be very frisky again. There's also Platinium Plus, made by vets and sold thru their own website, which has a joint supplement formula - my vet really likes them. Let us know what you learn from your research.

  22. You are SO NOT a bad horse mother! You are awesome! I think that supplements are so tricky anyway. There are a million different kinds that are supposed to do all kinds of things and some that do nothing at all! How is one supposed to know what to do? I wish I had some good advice for you. I just think Your Boy is far too young to have chronic pain or not still be your number one trail guy! Maybe this ole winter is making it all so much worse. Is he in a big space so he can constantly be moving around? In the summer he may start to feel much better! I hope so. He is too cute for anything but.

  23. I have arthritis myself and can tell you firsthand that if I miss a dose of my MSM, glucosamine/chondroitin, or flaxseed oil I'm in pain the next day. I use MSM to ease my senior stallion's arthritis (side effect of a sesamoid fracture 9 years ago) and it keeps him very comfy to date.

  24. That's Hyaluronic Acid - oops - sorry.

  25. My horses are under 10, so no arthritis yet. But I have friends with older horses. A good friend of mine feeds "Hyla Sport" to her 30 year old.

    She still keeps him in light work too, to keep him fit. He also seems to really enjoy exercise so it keeps him happy too.

    Your boy has a way to go before he's 30. :) But I bet he'll be enjoying life for years to come.

    I haven't tried Adequan on a horse, but I had incredible results when my vet prescribed it for my teenage cat. Anyway your Boy could get more comfortable with needles?

    Oh and this lady wrote a good blog article on joint supplements:

  26. @Linda- nerving is something only done to the coffin joint when it involves navicular disease in horses. You can nerve a horse twice and then he's done. If he gets sore or quits working usually must be retired.

    @pony girl- as a competitive professional barrel racer and horseman, I have tried the gamut of products. The only joint supplement that I have found to work on my now 29 year old gelding (who btw has NO joint fluid in his coffin joints) is Pureform Glucosamine Plus. It has the highest Mg per dose of Glucosamine, and MSM of any product on the market. It also contains Vit C which helps with rebuilding tissue. I have given adequan on the 1/4/7 treatment that your vet recommended; legend shots (hyaluronic acid), and done joint injections. The difference between the hyaluronic acid and the adequan, in case your vet didn't explain this to you, is that the legend acts as a bandaid. The Adequan is known to actually help the joint repair itself. My leg vet in Texas (who I drag horses halfway across the country to see) treats most of the professional barrel racer's horses; he recommends for them that they do a shot of both adequan and legend weekly. I realize that it's unaffordable for most to spend upwards of 130 on meds/week. But he then says if you have to choose, it's best to do the adequan.

    All that said, if it were me, I'd go right to Pureform Glucosamine Plus and see if that doesn't make a difference. Read their website. I think you'll decide it's worth a go.

  27. It sounds like you got some great ideas from your comments. I hope you can find something that works that fits your budget. Poor Riley, it sucks to get older and feel those aches and pains you didn't before!

  28. I've used surpass with success on non-artrtis related injuries and like it a lot.

  29. When Baby Doll was vet-checked the vet discovered some mild arthritis in her right hock. She suggested to the new owners to use MSM, glucosamine/chondroitin, or flaxseed oil. Hers is so mild that it wouldn't affect her for relaxing trail rides.
    Ironically, I have hip dysplasia in both of my hips. Basically bone is rubbing bone, and I started taking Alpha Omegas (Fish Oil Concentrate) over 14 years ago. Unfortunately I had to take more and more for it to keep working and the fishy burps were awful. I still take two gel pills a day, but I've been taking MSM, glucosamine/chondroitin, and flaxseed oil now for over 5 years and if I miss more than 2 days I literally cannot walk without pain. In the beginning I didn't notice any difference in my comfort and flexiblity until after a week or two, though, but I just kept taking it. They seem to require a loading up period...probably in horses, too.

    You're a good horse Mom. Just make My Boy comfortable and keep him active. I find that I get stiffer if I stand around too much or don't move. Being acgive probably helps the MSM, glucosamine/chondroitin and fish oil do it's job better, keeping things fluid in the joints.

    Good luck!

  30. Good mothers do research and ask questions, so kudos to you! My Boy is lucky.
    I had good luck with Promotion EQ-

    Best of luck! :)

  31. My dog has arthiritis in his shoulder and Cosequin for dogs has been amazing . . . seriously. I was a skeptic, but this stuff does work. SmartPak has it for horses with MSM added. It's expensive, but I believe it's the only regulated joint supplement available (something like that -- correct me if I am wrong though!). SmartPak has a joint supplement as well and some people have luck.

    If you want something that works for sure, without wondering if you are throwing away your money, go with Adequan or Legend. If you add up the cost of supplements, it's actually not much more to go with the shots. I know you say your horse won't tolerate it, but can't they Ace him for shots?

    If you use bute, you run into issues with ulcers. To treat ulcers correctly, you're looking at about $2500 for two months worth of GastroGard, so even though bute is cheap, you have to be careful or it'll end up being more expensive than therapy.

    I do love these guys for supplements: They will send you a free sample that lasts a month and work with you on what to give your horse. ReitSport HA100 has everything you want and some vitamin B which may help with you Appy's occasional 'tude! :) You can email them, tell them the problem, how often you ride and when, etc. and they will hook you up. Excellent customer service!

    Good luck!

  32. Oh I am so sorry to hear about the Boys problems but I am going to tell you that the glucoseamine plus MSM is really effective in animal and human treatment for arthritis. You can find it through vet supplies for a reasonable amount of money, cheap really. I want to tell you our schnauzer dogs have always taken it and if we don't give it they get to be totally stove up and when you give it back to them in a few days they are running around like puppies! Same goes for me when I don't take my Move Free suppliment (same thing only marketed for humans). The problem is the pain is horrible for some time when you quit taking it so going off and on is not a very good thing to do I have found out from experience.

  33. Thanks for dropping by my blog, always nice to hear from another appy owner and admirer, your boy is lovely.
    About the arthritis, my old quarter horse passed away about 14 months ago at the age of 35, I used a product with shark cartilage in it for his arthritis, as an ex barrel racer he had quite a bit in his legs and shoulders, it seemed to work wonders for him and it was just a powder that was mixed into his feed.. regular visits from the chiro helped too..



I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

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