The Equine Sports Massage Association‘s Annual Conference at Tattersalls in Newmarket featured a detailed lecture/demo by Professor of Veterinary Anatomy and Equine Lamenesses Jean-Marie Denoix, and I was lucky enough to be asked to take Daisy as the demo horse, as a good friend of mine was organising the lecture. This involved the mare standing still for hours (helped by a little veterinary assistance of the light sedative variety) while being ultrasound scanned more or less from head to foot, and being fed polos occasionally when she started coming round. This, fortunately, was right up her street, and she behaved very well.
Daisy’s ultrasonic pics were almost all reassuringly normal, until he got to her spine, and
to a small lump on her back, under the saddle area. I have been aware of this for some years, and have asked 3 different equine vets about it. It is the size of a smartie, exactly in the middle of her spine, is round and completely hard, and can be palpated with full force (all my strength downwards on a fingertip on that point) with no reaction at all from the horse, not even an ear-flick.
Every other vet has told me it is ‘nothing’ and to ignore it. I was told it might have been caused by the horse rolling onto a stone (except, there are no stones in my paddocks!)
Professor Denoix did not instantly dismiss it as nothing… he looked very interested as he examined it, and, on scanning the DSPs (Dorsal Spinous Processes) to either side of the lump, he showed that she has Kissing Spines. The lump is damage to her supraspinous ligament, caused by the extra stress on it from the KS, if I understood him correctly.
This diagnosis wasn’t a total surprise to me: it makes sense of her underperformance really: her intermittent tension, the difficulties in getting her comfortable, her way of going (both on the flat and over fences) in spite of my attempts to get her softer and rounder. Apparently horses with back pain will raise their head and brace their back to level out the pain so that they can cope with it, rather than risk intermittent pain.
She has been coping fine with the questions so far, and was sailing around BE100 courses and enjoying every stride, but she wasn’t as relaxed and straightforward as I’d like. I was about to step her up to Novice level, and she needs to be using herself correctly for that. So, she is booked in for x-rays, and then for Mesotherapy (a treatment Denoix recommends for KS), as soon as possible. Here is a link to a description of Mesotherapy.
Hopefully this will make her much more comfortable, enabling me to get her working more correctly, so we can get out competing again this season.
Positive update to follow, I hope…