𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐨𝐰𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐤𝐞𝐞𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐬𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝!

Do you feel that you seem to have the worst luck? Perhaps you should give up owning/riding because really, what’s the point? Your horse(s) always seem to be lame or just not right?

Why is it always your horse(s)…? It’s NOT!


I don’t know why we keep these challenges to ourselves, perhaps we feel ashamed or embarrassed. Worried that people will judge us and/or think we have caused it.

I’m not sure of the reasons and I guess they are personal to each individual. But having a horse who is constantly sound or correct is NOT normal.

At the end of the day, they are living beings! Like us, they have good and bad days. Sometimes they work a little harder than usual. had a ‘heavy’ night in the field with their mates, slipped, bucked too high, slept funny, or trod on something! Living life will cause mishaps for horses and humans and these things WILL happen.

My experience with Rana

Let me share with you where I currently am with Rana. With Annick (my Queen), I’ll tell you about another time. Yes, I have two horses that aren’t quite right!
Rana has slipping stifles and has had this since a baby. They have never locked but she needs to be in work to maintain the strength of the muscles and tendons throughout her body. Especially the stifles. I am meticulous about making her work correctly through her body.

As much as she is annoying to ride (yes, she pushes my buttons and we clash but I still love her!) I do what I need to do because it is my job to look after her, to keep her healthy. She has the best of everything. Like the rest of them and I work my arse off to enable them to whatever they need. Whenever they need but, Rana has not been right for about 1.5 years now.

To a huge majority of professionals, she is sound, fine, has no issues but perhaps a little stiff but I KNOW she is not right. I FEEL IT! But what do you do when the professionals think she’s ‘fine’? You follow your instincts and get another opinion and another and another….
I led myself to believe that it was the stifles so continued to work with her whilst I still searched for a professional that saw what I felt. Rana went to Nantwich Equine Vets on Monday 19th April to have a Lameness Assessment with Campbell Thompson.

On the assessment Campbell noted:

lame 1-2/10 on RF in a straight line and positive to flexion on this RF but also mildly positive on RH. On the firm circle, she was 1/10 LF to left, and 1-2/10 RF on Soft she was 1/10 RF to left and 2/10 RF to right. As right fore lameness was more significant this meant it was a nerve blocked first. Low palmar digital nerve block improved lameness by approximately 60% and abaxial sesamoid level block further improved lameness. However, this did not completely abolish RF lameness but did appear to increase left fore lameness.LF lameness was abolished by palmer digital nerve block. Foot radiographs were taken which showed no significant abnormalities but questionable navicular changes.

This pattern of lameness is very common and generally, associated with a combination of the navicular bone, ligament, and ddf tendon pathologies. An MRI would be required to identify the exact pathology in this case. Found her to have toe-in conformation especially of LF and asymmetrical feet with RF smaller and more upright. You can see from the X-ray of the RF, the slightly distorted line of the navicular bone but otherwise, no significant signs indicating why. With an MRI costing in the region of £1300 and she is not insured I asked Campbell to treat and he medicated both Left and Right Fore navicular bursae with steroid and high molecular weight Hyaluronate and we would assess in 3 weeks.

I was given instructions of her aftercare…

Told to put shoes on the front to offer support and try to correct the asymmetry in the right fore. It was slight, very slight. Not something I’d not noticed but the more we talked the more I started to blame myself. I took Rana’s hind shoes of a fair few years ago and about 1.5years ago, maybe slightly longer I took the fronts off too. Transitioning her to barefoot thinking that it was better for her, turns out I could have caused this
There is no way to know but I feel it is down to me. She is a heavy front-loading Friesian who will avoid sitting and using her hind as much as possible with the stifle issues will force her more onto the fore. She needed shoes and support and I took them away from her.

Not all horses can and/or should be barefoot

I know that and yet I still don’t know why I did it. I guess because I THOUGHT it was the right thing for her.
Anyway, it is what it is and I am a little (A LOT!) poorer (well Adam is!) and I followed Campbell’s instructions. Took her back on Wednesday 19th May (4 weeks as I was away for a week). I rode her in the school the Friday before, as she had only be hacked as she was more sound on hard ground in the assessment. She didn’t feel perfect in the school but I’d say 85% better if not a little more. Especially as she warmed up more and got in the zone!

Campbell assessed Rana and was honestly extremely happy with how well she had responded to the treatment and said that it was as good as it was going to get! So to crack on with the work and drop her weight (little porker has put on 20kg! in 4 weeks) and as soon as I feel her drop off to come back and re-assess and treat.

So yesterday was a good day! Not so good for Rana as I haven’t shown her her work diary yet!! Lol…
The point I am trying to make is YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE WITH A HORSE THAT ISN’T RIGHT! It happens to more people than you realise and even after assessment and treatment and making a huge improvement she will never be 100%. Never.

Now, let’s talk about Annick

As I mentioned above Annick is also not right. Now it’s because she’s not strong enough. It’s just taken nearly a year to get her to where she is now.
When you own a horse, the reality that they will always be sound or that there will never be an issue is small. So so small! As mentioned, they are living beings and I have lost count of the times I have woken with a stiff neck of not able to bear weight on one foot for no known reason. So, if you are currently dealing with an issue with your horse, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We all go through it, some more than others, some for longer than others, and if you haven’t yet then you will!

There is no shame and no need to be embarrassed. You would never do anything to intentionally harm or cause your horse issues and they don’t intentionally seek to injure themselves they are just busy living life. If you have possibly caused an issue, like me, then hold your hand up!
Accept it, learn from it and move forwards, and don’t hide the burden of having a horse that isn’t right because that will eat you up inside! And find a team that listens to you, because no one knows your horse as you do! And what you have to contribute matters! It has taken me nearly two years and now I feel I have the right team of professionals to turn to when I need them.

Somewhere, someone like you, like me needs to hear that they have the same issues.
They need to feel they are not the only ones in the world right now to give them the strength to move forwards…
You are not alone! I am right here with you walking the same pathway right now!

RiderCise® – ‘Making Rider Fitness Easy’

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