Horse Veterinary Questions? Ask an Equine Vet.
Based on your description of your horse's condition, there could be one of several possible explanations for his behavior. It concerns me in your description that he is dragging the leg more than carrying it, for this can be indicative of nerve damage. Normally when there is a fracture involved the horse will carry the limb, as he still has the nerve/muscle function to lift the limb off of the ground and avoid the pain of weight-bearing. With nerve damage, the horse has lost the awareness of where his leg is in space, and drags the limb along with him as he has no sense of where it is.
If your horse is still continuing this behavior, I'd definitely recommend having him seen by your vet. To assess for a pelvic fracture, it is often possible to make the diagnosis by performing a rectal exam as the horse is walking. The majority of the time it is possible to feel the fracture moving (crepitus) as the horse walks. To differentiate from nerve damage, your vet should be able to perform a series of neurological tests which will indicate whether or not your horse has spatial awareness. If both of those tests are inconclusive, the hopefully we're just looking at muscle soreness from the trauma! In any instance, however, it would be best to have your horse seen, especially if the condition hasn't improved or is worsening.
I hope this has helped, and please let me know if you have further questions.
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX of luck!
The fact that he was able to lift his leg following direct pressure is a good indicator of normal nerve function. Let's hope that that is the case and that we're dealing with a soft tissue injury only!
Thanks for the accept, and I hope all turns out well for you and your horse today!
I appreciate the update, Angella. Please let me know the outcome!
Well, he's home. He has definitely broken the pelvis... close the hip, but the vet can't tell exactly where as it was a rectal exam. No flipping him over to x-ray. I decided it was too dangerous.
He's alert... back to his arrogant, impatient, demanding self (19 month old arab stud colt). He is not liking to swing or move the leg, but is putting some weight on it... I've put him on glucosamine, OCD pellets (anecdotal evidence of it helping fractures in racehorses), foal/weanling feed, flax, and elk velvet antler with plans to bring in equine massage therapists and/or chiropractors as it heals. Put softstall flooring (amazing stuff... can almost sleep on it... highly recommend it), heat and surveillance in his stall... and now we wait.
The vet's prognosis is that if he takes care of himself, he will heal.
Thank you for the help. :)
Thanks for the update, although I wish it were better news. Pelvic fractures are not common occurrences, so I was hoping for something like severe bruising. At any rate, your vet is right in that the best plan is rest and more rest. You sound like a devoted owner, so I'm sure you will do all that you can to help him "take care of himself"......
Best of luck with him, and I'll be looking for an update in 6-8 months!
Thank you so much for the happy update. I'd been wondering how you and Ali were doing. It's great news that he's responding so well, and it sounds as if he's on his way to full recovery. As far as having another specialist take a look at him, I think that a certified equine osteopath could help tremendously. I work with one on a regular basis, and have seen multiple horses with "mystery" lamenesses recover fully after one or two treatments. It certainly wouldn't hurt to have one take a look. Let me know if you do, and what the findings are.
So thanks again, and keep up the great work.
(I'm glad his smell will be around for years to come for you too.)