We Found the Reason for Recurring Lameness by Using Muscle Analysis
My daughter had done really well at dressage events as a pony rider, and it was with future success in mind, that I bought her the first horse. We got help by knowledgeable horse enthusiasts to select a qualified horse, one that had shown potential at the Danish 5-years Championships, and had subsequently won competitions. From the first day my daughter sat on the horse, she was in love with it, and we decided to buy it even though it when ridden was crooked along one side going with the hindquarters towards the center at the left-handed circle. The horse had already been x-rayed and the pre-purchase veterinary examination confirmed that the horse was crooked, but no more than could be treated with the help of a chiropractor.
Therefore we have a chiropractor to look at the horse from the beginning, and we are informed that the horse is tense along the one side. Unfortunately, my daughter only participated in a single event before the problems really began to present themselves. Over the next 2½ years we experience that the horse is diagnosed with a sesamoiditis in its left forelimb, a suspensory ligament injury in the left forelimb, a suspensory ligament injury in the right forelimb, an operation to correct fused tendons in the knee of its left hind limb and yet it suffers recurring inflammation and lameness. In the meatime, the horse begins to develop behavioral issues such as suddenly rearing up, throwing itself to one side or making abrupt stops.
Altogether, we had four veterinarians to look at the horse and a vast number of admissions, before we met almost be coincidence a new veterinarian who could perform a muscle analysis. Since we had not previously considered if there could be something wrong with the muscles, we choose to have the muscle analysis performed. Our horse had sensors placed on the withers, the mid back and the croup (lower back, lumbar) on both the right and left side. Whilst the horse moved, we could see on a screen exactly how the muscles worked. The picture was normal for the withers and the mid back, but for the croup, there was a big difference right compared to left hand side. On the left side, the muscles worked intensively but within the normal range whilst on the right side in contrast there was almost no signal. This came as a huge surprise, the results show that the innervation to this muscle is almost completely damaged and because of that, the muscle barely functions. The surrounding muscles have compensated for the almost totally crippled muscle and this has most likely been the cause of all the problems we have experienced.
We knew when we bought the horse that whilst in transport after a Danish championship it had gone through the bottom of the transporter with one of its hoofs. Later on though we heard a different story, not only had its hoof gone through the floor, in fright the horse had totally destroyed the transporter, which perhaps explains the muscle injury sustained to the right side of the croup. A horse that has kicked a transporter to pieces will have over strained its whole body. Based on the muscle analysis and the start of chronic pain in one of the forelimbs, due to scar tissue after injury, we chose to have the horse put down.
I really hope that a muscle analysis becomes part of a standard pre-purchase veterinary examination in the future, so that others do not have to go through what we have experienced, and I will never buy a horse again without first getting it checked using a muscle analysis. Furthermore, we could have used a muscle analysis during the many re-training periods to ensure that we did not over-work the hors
es muscles following an injury. In general terms, a muscle analysis could also have been used du
ring riding right from the start so as to better understand why our horse performed as it did under training.
Bettina Stuhr, Denmark
Link to Scientific article about this case:
Link to the Danish Magazine ‘Ridehesten’ covering the case: