October 30, 2008

Shadow Begins Exercise

Click photo to enlarge
Shadow ~ First


It's been almost two months since Shadow began the long road back. I still look at that first photograph of him, and remember how uncertain I was that he would even make it. I just didn't realize the inner strength this horse had. He amazes me everyday.

He has a healthy appetite and is starting to fill out in just the right places. This week we began the muscle-up program, which means a slow walk on the flat along the trails that are conveniently in front of his paddock.

His hind quarters are very weak, but Dr.Secor assures me that keeping things slow and steady, Shadow should be able to develop the muscles to solve that problem.

My real worry is a strange rotation of the left hind leg. Sometimes it seems that he could possibly go down. At present, I'm avoiding turns towards the left, as that is a challenge for him.

He does fine on the straight for about 20 minutes, and then the leg seems to give out. I hope it is a muscle thing and not some old injury that will be permanent.

Here are some photographs that show the left hind leg rotation.
Would greatly appreciate opinions, suggestions, advice.

Beginning of walk on the straight

Turning left ... beginning rotation of left hind leg.

Turning left ... rotation and lack of support
The severity seen in last photo is generally after about
20 minutes of walking. On a good day, there is no rotation.
I try to remember it was only
8 weeks ago he could hardly walk.
It's a day at a time.
(Shadow is a Fox Trotter about 25 years old.)


  1. hmmmmm.....I am not sure. It kinda looks like the ligaments are doing somthing strange. Or it just might be old age. I really do not know.

    I bet he really loves his walks. He is so lucky to have someone who spends time with him.

  2. Not sure about the leg, I'm sure the vet would know better than any of us. So glad he is getting what he needs and now with his exercises I'm sure he is enjoying himself more than he has in years. Good Luck.

  3. hmm...well the first two pictures made me think that he had the same problem as the horse I lease X. Even the ware on the hoof looks similar (X's not as severe, but there is still some uneven ware). Who had broken his hip last year and when it healed it healed at an angle. Now looking at him just standing there you can see that it has healed on an angle. For the most part he is sound, if you look at him though his hind legs can almost cross. When I ride though you can only tell if you are really watching his back legs. Your last picture though is very severe though. And that kind of crossing makes me think it is not from a healed broken hip. In the last picture it almost looks like the hock is what is angeling.

  4. Marvel - Maybe your vet knows a good chiropractor that could look at Shadow. It's hard to tell in a still photo, but maybe as he strengthens, that leg will grow stronger. Could it be arthritis? He must be so happy to get out of his corral.

  5. Andrea:
    Old age, I'm learning there's no cure for that, huh! He does loves to get out and check things out.

    Grey Horse Matters:
    He does seem happy and what an affectionate boy he is. The vet continues to encourage me ... keeping in mind how far we have come.

    On The Bit:
    I read your post about X and the angled hip. Was hoping to hear from you. It does appear to be coming from the hock. It is a problem only when he is fatigued.

    A chiropractor just may be helpful, I've heard of some amazing results. I'm hoping it is a "strength" issue, since 2 months ago he could hardly stand, much less walk. It's one day at a time, for sure.

  6. I can't give input as to the leg rotation but I CAN tell you that Shadow looks wonderful after such a short time. What a trooper! You are his angel.


  7. Poor Shadow! I wish I could help but I'm not very clever when it comes to horses...I just about know one end to the other! I hope you can find him some help. He is looking so much better, you have done a really good job. I know there is far to go with him yet but like you say, he is a fighter! It's amazing that some animals can tell when someone is trying to help them and they feel your energy so they put all their energy into helping themselves too.

    Good luck and I hope everyone is well.
    Hugs from Meg and cats xxx

  8. Rosehaven Cottage:
    Thanks for the cheers for Shadow. I'll tell him!

    The Kittens' Mother:
    Thanks! You are so right about how animals know when we want to help them, whether it be horses, dogs, cats. They sure know how to say "thank you".

  9. Oh dear....I have been following Shadow's progress and though I am so amazed and in awe of how far he's come, that leg rotation really made my stomach lurch :( He is SO lucky to have you two and all of his fans and visitors on his side....sigh. What a beautiful beautiful boy.

    I just convinced my idiot ex-neighbor to sell me his 22 year old little Morgan mare...she looked quite pitiful with ribs showing clearly, but not the weakness of sweet Shadow. They would make quite a pair of lovebirds, however :)

    Sending the sweet gentleman many carrots and lots of good thoughts that his exercise routine brings him more good health and strong muscles!

    And I just ADORE your newest addition to the family...having a pair of goldies is the perfect combination :)

    You two are wonderful!!!!
    Woofs and whinnies from all of us here in the southern rockies!
    Sue, The Yahoos, and The Flowers, too :)

  10. It has only been a couple of months and horses that have been starved as long and as severely as Shadow can a long time to come back to complete health. Bless Shadow-he is an elderly gentleman, so it will take even longer. I would take the encouragement your vet gives you and give him at least 6 months before worrying about a chiropractor. It is possible he had an old injury, but honestly I think most of it is due to severe muscle atrophy.
    Just keep doing what you are doing, because it is working. He looks great and I am sure he is much, MUCH happier.

  11. Sue:
    So glad you are mom to the little Morgan mare. Cheers for you! There is one thing about helping horses needing help. They never stop saying "thank you"!

    Browneyed Cowgirls:
    Thanks for your wisdom and advice.
    I talked with the vet yesterday and he said just what you said, slow, easy, and lots of time to re-build those muscles. Shadow is the sweetest boy ever! So glad I took him on!

  12. Have you had him adjusted? We have a chiroprator that adj horses as well. One of my horses colic pretty bad once. Afterwards his left hind leg would lock up, (random) The chiropractor came out and put him back in place. Never had a problem again? Hopefull it is something with time that will get better.

  13. Has the look of something neurological. His old body has been very deprived for a long time. Has the vet done a neurological exam? I can see from the photos he is just having a heavenly time soaking up the love and attention and good food!

  14. He has made wonderful progress from the bag of bones he used to be, but it's early days yet. If this only starts up after 20 minutes or so it suggests it is lack of muscle development - as the muscles he has tire, they can't perform so efficiently. Perhaps your vet. might suggest dropping back 5 minutes on the fitness programme so the muscles don't become over-tired? Does he have a dropped hip on that side? Viewed from behind it would be obvious that the hip was lower and that would obviously effect the way the leg was carried.

    Bravo though, for saving him, and turning his life round. Even if his leg never gets better, at least he has the food and care and love he needs. Please give him a hug and a carrot from me.

  15. Ell,
    Your suggestion is a good one. At this point we are considering everything. I'm glad to say each day is a better day.

    Bovey Belle,
    Yes, you are so right, he does have a dropped hip. Like you suggested, we have reduced his exercise time and that has helped the leg issue. Building muscle is such a slow process.

    I'm sticking with him, he's so sweet & very grateful. He thanks you for the carrot and hug ... he sure thrives on that!

  16. well Im saying from a logic point that if a few months ago he couldn't even walk just work him good not hard at first and keep the muscle growing and never forget a bit of love will turn the most ruthless horse to butter.


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