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Thread: Osteoarthritis of the coffin joint

  1. #1
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    Default Osteoarthritis of the coffin joint

    Walter has been lame on and off for the past 2months on his front legs one is slightly worse I think,
    We have had flexion tests and nerved blocked and the next step is to really just clarify and have x-rays.
    Walter loves exploring the forest, enjoys it even more if it's at speed.

    his ranging from 3 to 5 /10 lame

    The vet reakons he could go on bute and we could carry on hacking out and all be fine or he can have steriod injections,

    Is their life after this?? at the momment I dont seem to be able to get past the fact that it would be wrong to carry on riding him on bute but then I know it's important to keep him moving...Would like peoples views even if it's not what I want to hear

  2. #2
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    Arthritus is manageable so try not to panic and assume the worst. Also if he is lame on both fronts that MAY be a sign that changes are happening in his navicular bones - but this is v hard to diagnose without MRI scans.

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    My Kali has OA and OCD in both hocks, upper and lower joints. She was diagnosed when she was just 4 and was retired 7 months later. She was turned away and at one stage was on 4 bute a day to keep her field sound. Vet advised pts as had only seen hocks as bad as hers in well worked, old competition horses. Not a just backed 4 yr old! I slowly reduced this and increased her turn out and then got her on a decent joint supplement. After a year out she came sound!

    I know its different with hocks as when I had Kali's hocks re xrayed recently we discovered her lower joint has fused however she does still have significant bony changes in the upper joints. The fusion would suggest why she is now sound but its a waiting game for when she decides that the upper joints hurt.

    I warn you now you will be cursed on here for suggesting riding on bute but I sometimes have to do it in winter as she gets stiff in the cold/wet. It is on vet recommendation, the vet knows what he is saying (hopefully ) and won't tell you to do something detrimental. I was previously told on here that by riding her I will make her hocks worse when infact if anything they are better for it! Kali is 7 now and although she is currently off work due to a diferent injury (broken splint bone ) when this is sorted I will bring her back in to work slowly and then carry on where we left off.

    My vet told me last week that I will do no wrong by her hacking, doing light schooling, low level dressage and even small jumps! He has said to work her to keep her mobile, keep her fit and slim all of which will help with any OA. She hasn't had any bute for her OA since February and even then it was only one a day.

    This was Kali a 2 weeks ago before she hurt her front leg coming 2nd with 66% in a walk trot dressage, no one there would have said she is arthritic.



    So my answer, yes there is life after/with OA with very careful management and patience when needed. Good joint supplement, lots of turn out, low weight, good farriery, sensible work i.e being careful on your surface and how much you do and if recommended by the vet bute to improve the life of the horse by reducing any risk of pain.



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    Of course you can ride on bute - at the end of the day its an anti-inflammatory and no different from a human taking ibuprofen. Obviously if it masking chronic pain that is a different matter but in order to exercise an arthritic horse I see no problem in theory.

    Poster above speaks good common sense!

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    I personally won't bute and ride, it bothers me to bute to keep field sound, I have a 14 y/o who is retired because of arthritis (hocks) vet advised that I could bute and ride but I personally can't

    Injections may well help anyway, fingers crossed it works out positive

  6. #6
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    Connor was on/off lame when I got him 18 months ago now. The vet said it was probably arthritis and he probably wouldn't ever be sound. I'd take him in the school, ask for trot and he'd be lame, so I'd just put my hi vis on and hack out in walk. But after a good warm up he was sound to trot in straight lines. After a few months he was sound enough to school, and he's got better and better ever since.

    He lives out to keep mobile. He's worked usually 6 x a week to keep him mobile. I jump him over small stuff ocasionally and don't go fast on uneven ground. He has devil's claw in his feed. He has never had bute since I've had him. He's healthy and he's happy, so I'm happy.

    If you're sore you take painkillers, but if you have a headache that won't go away you don't keep on taking painkillers, you try to find the cause and deal with it. So I don't see a problem with bute short term. But if it is arthritis then you need to look into ways to manage it long term. If you have the patience, then it's certainly not the end.

  7. #7
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    Thanks comet thats something else we could look into re the navacular, When I got him he had been on bute for mild stiffness ,he has been off this for 3ish years and been fine.
    His currently on extra flex ha, has rosehips and cod liver oil was thinking of swapping the cod liver oil for cider vinigar his only just changed over to the extra flex this week so I know I wont see any real improvement just yet..
    Thirdtimelucky I did have my reservations about posting re the bute and being ridden but hey ho we cant always please every one If I'm to carry on riding him I couldnt bute him every day I would feel so guilty and selfish...I dont mind if its as and when like you say in winter cold and wet etc but if it got to the stage where it was more frequent then I would defently re-think our plans.
    Kali looks amazing it goes to show it can be done!

    Lilythepink-At the momment I keep mulling it over in my head can I, could I etc I really dont no how it will go,the vet did say we could just stick him on bute and see how we go which I feel is extremely wrong and NO-WAY would I carry on riding him then. I feel that it's better to have the xrays done and then we can make a descision based on the facts instead of just playing the guessing game.

    Nirikina-If you're sore you take painkillers, but if you have a headache that won't go away you don't keep on taking painkillers, you try to find the cause and deal with it. So I don't see a problem with bute short term. But if it is arthritis then you need to look into ways to manage it long term. If you have the patience, then it's certainly not the end.

    Your so right this is something I'm worried about as I really dont want to be reliant on bute!

    Walter is only on loan to me I've had him since 2008 I think, His owener has been great and is happy to go along with what ever I think is best, Last year we talked about when his ready to retire (as I dont want him to go back but was'nt sure if she would want him) but we agreed he could stay here so even if he does have to retire he wont be going any where. I am trying to be abit more open minded about it all I'm just prepering for the worst and hoping for the best..
    Dear daughter has said I can ride her pony if I have to retire him their was a BUT you need to lose some weight first

  8. #8
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    My old horse had osteoarthritis of the coffin joint, navicular AND pedal oestitis. Unfortunately they seem to sometimes go hand in hand, which is why I think you're making the right decision having the x-rays and seeing exactly what you're dealing with - you may catch one of the conditions in time to prevent the others.

    My boy stayed sound for 10 years (and he was elderly at the time) with cortisone injections into his feet, and careful management of his weight and the ground we rode on and regular exercise to keep the circulation going which pumps the blood to the joints. Also Cortaflex daily in his feed, and a little bute when the ground got hard and rutty. Be careful with cortisone injections though, as they can cause laminitis.

    Good luck xxx

  9. #9
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    I wouldn't bute and ride in the long term, same as I wouldn't bute for long term field rest. The quality of life is so much more important to me than the quantity.
    When Gabe had his surgery, the possible complication was OA of the coffin joint, and AFAIK this is what happened, he didn't come sound and developed laminitis as well (most likely from the stress of being in pain). He was turned away to recover but when the laminitis set in I called it a day as it wasn't fair to put him through any more. Even after having a day of bute, the morning I got him in for the last time he was still uncomfortable and I don't regret anything. He couldn't cope with it but every horse is different as Kali proves. I didn't want to keep him going when he wasn't happy; the light had gone from his eyes and he was a completely different horse who was utterly miserable so it wasn't fair on him.
    There is life after it, but please be prepared that the worst could happen. I don't want to depress you but be prepared for what may come in the near (or distant) future, and don't fall into the trap of preserving life at all costs if it would be best to put an end to it for him. You will know if it's time, he will tell you - for now stay positive and enjoy him.

    In the short term, I'd be happy to bute if it was what the vet recommended, but personally I'd go for the steroid injections, they completely sorted the problems Gabe had in his off fore, it was just the near fore we couldn't fix

    Good luck, PM if you ever want advice about options from someone who's been through it. I hope I haven't upset you, I'm only being so brutal because I wish someone had been there to really prepare me for it.

    ETA: I don't know how old Walter is, but Gabe was only 10 so I wasn't going to put him through 20 years of unhappiness in the field; if he'd been 20 it would have been a different story. You know your horse, so do what you feel is right for him.
    Last edited by StormyJ; 12-06-2010 at 14:05.
    Whenever you feel like giving up, think of all the people who would love to see you fail.

  10. #10
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    Think Stormy J and I are the opposite sides of the OA story. I have been incredibly lucky with Kali as had accepted years ago she would only be a field ornament for as long as she could be turned out bute free. For now I treasure everyday I have with her sound as I know it won't last.

    I might add Kali is never hopping lame anymore because of her OA and only has occasional bute for stiffness. She has been off work for 1 1/2 weeks now since she fractured her splint bone and as she is on paddock rest is already fat so regular work for her is essential really. She also enjoys her work. I think Walter will tell you what to do. When Kali was retired she was a horror, escaping from fields, not being caught etc etc. Now she is an angel. She tells me that she wants to work. If she is stiff then we just go for a walk if she isn't we have some fun. I just take every day as it comes. Bute for stiffness I agree with but to mask an unmanaged lameness I don't.

    Oh and Kali had steriod injections twice but everytime she went lame again two weeks later. They offered to do them again last week but I said no. I might when the top joints cause her a problem but whilst they're not then I don't want to risk causing her problems.


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