- Back withdrawal: Pressure is placed over the back and pelvis to determine if the patient resents the pressure. Less didn't give into the pressure or act painful.
- Mobility of the neck: The horse is quietly and gently encouraged to bend their neck so that the nostrils reach behind the shoulder.
- Placement tests: The front legs are taken one at a time and crossed over the front of the other leg or placed in a wide stance. Normal horses should instantly replace their legs to the proper position while horses with spinal cord problems can take a long time to recognize their awkward stance. The test should be repeated on the opposite side and can also be done on the hind legs on subtle cases. This is probably the most alarming of all the tests. While he will right or replace his front legs quite normally he does not do so on his hind legs. He will hold the position as long as you let him and ask him to move forward. This means he doesn't know where his back legs are.
- Tail sway: The tail is pulled to each side by the examiner while an experienced handler is walking the patient. Normal horses resent the tail pull, but "wobblers" are easily pulled to the side while walking and when the pressure is released, they over correct or sway to the side. Vet was able to pull Less off balance with the strength of one arm, he said normally he has to use both arms just to have a normal horse budge.
- Tight circles: The patient is walked in a very tight circle pattern. A normal horse has the outside front foot placed in the front of the inside front foot and the inside hind foot placed in front of the outside hind foot. Horses with spinal cord problems will be confused and often reverse this order or pivot on the inside foot instead of lifting the leg. They will also swing the hind leg very wide (circumduction). Not sure how he scored here.
- Hills: The patient is led up and down an incline with the head in a normal position and then again with the head elevated. Normal horses place their hind feet flat on the ground and do not elevate the front feet (hypermetria) when going down hill. When coming up hill, the normal horse should also walk with flat rear feet. Abnormal horses walk downhill as though they have been tranquilized (truncal ataxia) and will knuckle over on the hind fetlocks. The patient will walk on their toes coming up the hill and swivel the toes and hocks laterally trying to get enough strength to get up the hill. Walk the patient with the head elevated and if the horse is affected, the signs should be even easier to see. Less drags his toes and "bobbles" (noticeable lateral movement in hocks and feet.)
He watched him on the lunge line and straightways and saw what I feel and see- sound on the straight-a-ways and lame on a right circle. Less tripped, knuckled over behind twice, that's what happens when he "loses" his back in. I described to him that I find that he trips and stumbles more when he's not on the bit or round and that his whole body just feels stiff. In this position trying to turn him right is a chore to say the least. BUT if I have him flexed and round then I can bend him left or right with my legs and just my fingertips. He will watch me ride him in the next week or so to show him. I told him I felt like when he was flexed that he was more "aware" of his body, mostly the hind legs. He found this a bit weird sense the cases he's seen horses react the complete opposite, but when has Lester ever been an easy, textbook case?
So what does all this mean? Dunno yet. We also have to figure out what is going on with his right foreleg. I've always thought it was compensation for the back end problems, but I think it's too prominent for that to be the case anymore. His flections weren't good on it.
and I had him check Lester's teeth and the good news is his teeth are in great shape :-p