The Case of the Mysterious Lameness

I’ve just returned home from a trip to the Vet for a mysterious lameness on my 4-year old mare.  I had hauled her to Lincoln at the first of the month to compete in the Bonus Race Finals.  She competed okay and had what I considered a normal run for a colt.  This was her first time at a big show and she had not been hauled much in a couple of months.  All my horses did not drink very well at Lincoln but nothing too concerning.

The day after arriving back home I rode the mare and didn’t notice anything other than she was a little lethargic and felt stiff behind.  I thought this was probably caused by slight dehydration and the heat from the trip.  The second day back home the mare was moving very gingerly and could hardly lift her left hind.  I took her to the round pen and shot the video showing the problems she was experiencing.  I looked the horse over for scrapes, heat, swelling and any signs of flued.  I could find nothing.  I decided to give it a few days to see if it would clear up.

A week went by and she was no better.  When the farrier came she would about fall down when her foot was picked up.  I scheduled an appointment and got her in to see the Vet.  The symptoms had now been going on for ten days.  As soon as the horse got off the trailer the Vet looked at the video I had shot.  The exam then checked every joint, tendon, ligament and took x-rays.  The x-rays showed great joint spacing, no spurs and no OCD’s.  Only the cleanest legs you would want on a 4-year old. 

The Vet told me she has seen similar cases and suspected ticks in the horse’s ears.  Ticks??  Yes ticks.  She explained that ticks can affect the horse’s neurological system and can even cause death.  I was surprised because while this horse had been in the pasture quite a bit I usually have a fly mask on her with the ears covered.  We don’t have too many tree and I have not seen hardly any ticks so far this year.  When the Vet looked the horse had six tiny ticks way down in the left ear.  Medicine was applied in each ear and the ticks were removed. The mare seems fine now.

I have been told that Tea Tree oil in and around the ears daily will deter the ticks from entering the horse’s ear.  I know I will be watching closely all summer and researching information about tick borne dieses in horses.  So y’all watch out for those ticks.

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