Not Quite Right. That’s the one of the most frustrating phrases of horse ownership and when you most wish your horse could tell you where it hurts.
Sometimes it’s very subtle, something that only you notice because you know your horse so well. Sometimes it’s the opposite; someone else notices that your horse is off because the symptoms have developed so gradually that it creeps up on you and the lameness feels normal.
When you don’t know why your horse is NQR it’s hard to know what to do. I know that I don’t want to call my vet every time my horse takes a slightly off step. But on the flip side, I don’t want a delay to cause a more serious problem. A lot of it comes down to knowing your horse — how he behaves, how he moves — so you can see when he’s acting differently.
If there’s something obvious — say some swelling in a leg and some slight lameness, I often give my vet a head’s up, cold hose, wrap and see if the horse gets better in 48 hours. If I suspect some bruising to a sole (from riding on rough terrain) I’ll usually pack the hoof with Magic Cushion for a day or two and see if it alleviates the problem.
Sometimes a horse is just acting strange. I came to feed once and found one of the horses lying down. That wouldn’t seem too strange except for that horse never lay down when she thought she was going to be fed. She was colicing. Another time I noticed a horse was looking slightly footsore, shifting her weight from foot to foot. She had laminitis.
If my horse feels slightly off when I get on, I’ll often warm him up slowly and see if he works out of it (indicating a muscle problem). If he gets worse, I’ll hop off and call the vet.
Freedom was NQR earlier this year. I saw him slip on the ice so I had a pretty good idea of how he hurt himself, the question was what had he hurt. I gave my vet a call and then gave him some bute and a few days off. Luckily my saddle fitter paid a visit and he confirmed my suspicion that it was likely a muscle pull (he’s also a massage therapist). After massage, acupuncture and light work, he was fine (although for many weeks I was hyper alert to any hint of lameness and I felt that his left hind had residual weakness for some time).
However during this time I checked in with my vet regularly. She also suspected it was gluteal pull and gave me an idea of how long Freedom would be sore.
What about all of you? How do you address the NQR horse?