Hello. I have a 27 year old horse that suddenly seemed to go lame. He alsways had a strange gait we never could quite figure it out. About a week ago he looked like he had gone Lame. His back legs look really stiff and he wouldn’t even pick up the one that looked super stuiff. I noticed he really drags his toes too. Vet said could be arthritis or spinal stenosis. Tried him on bute and it did nothing so it seems to be a spinal problem. When I turned him in tight circles he steps on his own legs and almost falls. If you pull his tail you can literally pull him over. And if you put his foot down crossed over his other hind leg he just leaves it there. He gets picked on by t the three young horses he is with all drafts. He is a quarter horse. Wondering if anyone has dealt something similar and I know Iwi most likely have to put him down before winter I worry the other horses are going to hurt him when they chase him he almost falls alot but I wanted to give him the summer. Any advice is welcome. It seems like this just came on quite suddenly. And I’m worried he will deteriorate quickly
All the signs you relate are consistent with Wobbler's syndrome, which is a name for conditions where the nerve signals don't reach their destination, usually because of trauma or excess growth of cartilage/bone.
The nerve damage could be anywhere really, but when the hind legs are affected it is usually connected to an injury or bone growth in the neck or in the Sacro-Illiac-area
The cable of nerves run through the spinal cord, sending out "strands" to the different part of the body through the gaps between the vertebrae joints. If a joint is damaged or has excess cartilage growing around it, this might cut off the nerve or nerves. Also, the spinal cord itself can become tight and "squeeze" the entire cable, or a trauma can cause a swelling that presses on the nerves. (That is best case scenario, because the symptoms might go away with the swelling!)
The nerves to the hind legs are situated at the outside layer of the cable, that's why they are affected before the nerves to the front legs.
When this happens the brain still send signals to the legs to move, but if the signal is cut off it won't reach the leg BUT the brain doesn't know that! So next move is in sequence with the one before but the leg won't be in the expected position which can cause the horse to stumble, or even fall over. In worst case scenario, they can't get back up or break a leg in the fall.
There is no treatment for this condition!
Well, there is an operation that can improve things at least partially, but it costs an arm and a leg and is probably only making sense if you have a very valuable (young) stallion.
All you can do really, is give it time and hope for the damaged nerves to find new paths, but bear in mind that takes at least a year - if it happens at all.
I've been reassured by vets that the condition in itself isn't painful, but my boy was definitely hurting from the odd hopping that caused his muscles in the lumbar region to become hard and tense as a plank of wood. The confusion of his legs not cooperating took some toll on him too.
And on me! I doubt I would do it all over again even if I was very lucky, because my boy was only three years old and his nerves did find other ways, but we are still - seven years later - suffering from the effects left in his body and mind.
If you decide to keep him over summer, he needs a calm environment with a flat surface and preferably no running at all. If he stumbles over his own legs he might injure himself very badly.
I will also caution you to be utterly careful when handling him!!!
IF - it's a big "if", but not improbable - he looses his balance he could fall hard and/or knock you over. And that could happen as unexpectedly as a bolt from a clear blue sky so you need to caution other people handling him as well. Esp any one handling his his hooves because he might not keep his balance if you lift a foot.
I know this isn't what you wanted to hear - and I really hope it isn't all that bad - but do take care around him!