Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Butt Bob

 Lenny is back in prison. Honestly, being on stall rest for the month of August isn't the worst thing that could happen. It is ridiculously hot and humid, so riding has been 15 minutes of light work anyway. Spending the hottest month of the year with a large fan blowing on you as you munch an endless supply of hay with two fresh, ice cold water buckets at your disposal isn't so bad. 

I've had a nagging feeling something wasn't right with his right hind ever since he cut it way back in February. He had undergone vet eval including xrays when it happened (recall he freaked out when I took Hammy for a trail ride, I checked in with Hubby who assured me he was handling it fine then came home to a bleeding, fat right hind leg that took a month of stall rest and wound care to heal) and he was so new to me that I had a hard time sussing out what was his normal versus really normal, but over time it became more clear that something just wasn't right back there. It showed up as a stickiness to pick up the left lead canter, less willing to travel straight tracking left, always hitting the poles with the right hind. 

I hauled him up to the bigger hospital in Tryon for a second opinion. This is where I learned about the Butt Bob. Pretty much everyone is familiar with the head bob that highlights front end lameness. Well, it turns out that there is an hind limb equivalent: the butt bob. As we watched Lenny trot away from us on a transitional floor from soft to hard ground, the vet pointed out that his right pelvis was heading upward as the hoof hit the ground instead of staying level like it is supposed to. This is a protective mechanism to offload the forces to the hind limb. I had never noticed it before, but once he pointed it out to me I couldn't help but see it. 

The appointment went as well as lameness exams can go. Leonard was a super good boy through all the flexions, lunging (I didn't even know he could lunge), pokes and prods.  I held my breath a little through the flexions since I never had a PPE on him. How shitty would it have been to flex positive elsewhere too? Good news was that he flexed beautifully sound everywhere. This vet was extremely thorough and even did upper limb flexions which I had never seen before. The only thing really of note during the flexions was that he didn't get any worse to the right limb except when he flexed the left hind, he trotted off slightly more off on the right hind likely from having to bear full weight to that leg while the left was being flexed. 

We decided to move to blocks first before doing diagnostics which maybe I probably didn't have to do. I could have skipped that step and just did the xrays and US but who needs money? The blocks were really not very helpful. He showed no change at the fetlock level, 50% improvement if we squinted hard at the suspensory level, and then nearly perfect at the hock level. Vet said that it could either mean the hock was the issue or it was high suspensory and the higher block caught what the lower one didn't. It was neat though to watch the butt bob finally disappear once we blocked basically the entire leg. So while we could rule out lower stuff, we were still left uncertain at the root cause. 

He recommended xraying the hock. If it looked gnarly we could avoid the US. Those xrays looked gorgeous. The vet looked at me and said" had you sent me these for PPE I'd tell you to buy him straight away." You'd never had known he raced 25 times. Of course this meant the hock wasn't the issue, so an US it was. At this point I was running out of optimism. I pictured a massive chronic hole in his upper suspensory that would mean 12 months of rehab or career over. The vet told me not to fret so much just yet, but how couldn't I? The easy stuff was all ruled out. 

Well, the result was better than I hoped and actually maybe kinda inconclusive too. The suspensory looked pretty darn good. No tear. No hole. Mild thickening. Mild fluid. Maybe some areas of disorganization. Nothing too alarming. Since he did block out of the butt bob from the hock down, it didn't make much sense to blame it on the SI or hip itself as those two things weren't touched by the block. End result was calling it a high suspensory strain. Since we didn't US the area back in February when I think he injured it in the pasture, we aren't sure if maybe he did damage to it then and this is the result of healing over the last 4 months or what. 

Doesn't really matter though I suppose. The treatment plan is 30 days of stall rest with both hand and tack walking permitted as long as it is on flat, firm surfaces like the arena. No super deep sand footing, no hills, no pole work. He wants him in a flat bar shoe to prevent the heel from being able to flex down, likely to stay in that for 3 shoeing cycles. Honestly that is the worst part for me as I hate hind shoes, but it is what it is. He talked shockwave and laser and since I have access to a class 4 laser through the Hubby I opted for that. The Hubby will bring his home to use 3 times a week. In fact, he used the laser on Lenny's wound way back when too which may have helped any suspensory injury a bit before as well. 

He is very optimistic that this will heal uneventfully with minimal rehab needed. In 30 days we will get a new US. If that shows the current mild changes are gone we can then begin trot sets and small turn out. We can be back to cantering and small jumps by Halloween, so really not the worst news that could have come from this appointment. 


  1. Glad it was not the worst case scenario. I always think worst case scenario when it comes to lameness, i.e thought I bowed my horse's tendon when it was just a stone bruise. Glad its a shorter rehab, my horse's owner's other horse has two high suspensory strains due to her SI and is doing shockwave right now.

    Also I love the term butt bob. I was taught about it in my massage courses, to look for the hip hitching up, but butt bob is way more fun to say.

    1. I'm still a bit worried he has something off in his SI but since he had the injury in the same area I am trying to think horses not zebras.

      I couldn't actually remember the technical term he used for it, hip hitch is what he said, so I just used Butt Bob instead HA! I like it better anyway.