During the lameness exam, my vet commented that he was a little off on the LF as well. That's the leg we had all the issues with last fall - we blocked it twice and he didn't come sound, then blocked the foot a third time, which seemed to help. Radiographs of the foot showed nothing, but he's got thin soles so at the time we decided to shoe him. Whether he's been 100% with the shoes on is hard to say - he tends to shuffle on pavement to avoid slipping, but he feels great on soft surfaces. Recently the shoes came off, and now we're back to him being noticeably short on that leg (although he is not head-bobbing lame).
I've been using hoof boots, and I wanted to see if they were making much of a difference in the way he moves. I took a little video, but I'm having issues with video editing so instead I captured some stills from the video.
LF landing with boots. Flat.
LF landing without boots. DEFINITELY toe-first.
RF with boots. Heel first, but it's a little hard to see.
RF, no boots. YAY for nice heel-first landing!!!
As I was looking at the stills, I noticed the difference in the angles his legs were making, so I decided to measure them. I wanted to see how much of a difference there was between the angles of right vs left, both with and without boots. I busted out with my
incredibly rusty trusty trig skills (read: I found a web site with a handy calculator since I couldn't remember past the Pythagorean theorem) and did a little calculating.
- LF without boots: 38.6 degrees
- RF without boots: 48.2 degrees
- LF with boots: 45.2 degrees
- RF with boots: 47.9 degrees
- For the RF, the foot with the better landing, the boots aren't making much of a difference. My measurements aren't exact, and the difference in the angles is only .3 degrees with/without boots. On the other hand, they don't appear to be hampering his movement either.
- For the LF, the boots are making a significant difference - over 7 degrees of better range. That translates into a stride length that's over 25% larger (if I did my math right, and I might not have. Somebody please point it out to me if I messed up.).
- Wearing boots makes the stride length more even between the LF and RF. Without boots, there was almost a 10 degree difference in angles; with boots, it was not quite 3 degrees. In other words, he is able to move his body more evenly when he wears boots.
I'm calling the vet tomorrow to make another appointment to see if we can pinpoint the problem with the LF. If past history is any indicator, the problem will not go away when the foot is blocked (although given the fact that he's noticeably better in boots, it seems logical that the problem is in the foot). Which begs the question... where the heck is the problem??? I'm taking bets, so start speculating wildly!