Case Study: Willow’s Journey, Part 1

In March 2020 I began working with Willow to help her move better so that she was more comfortable in everyday life. Part 1 of Willow’s journey discusses the findings from her initial assessment with some video of her gait and pictures.

About Willow

Willow is 19 years old an Irish Cross and 15.1hh with a fine build. Willow has had hock surgery in the past and has been owned by her current owner for 9 years.

Willow receives both bodywork and McTimoney Chiropractic treatment as ongoing maintenance. Willow potentially has sacroiliac issues in the past and does show an unlevel pelvis on occasion. It is thought that Willow has been ridden western and barrel raced. Willow is now ridden in a treeless saddle and is hacked and schooled at a low level. Willow has been barefoot for a year.

Initial Assessment

Willow had experienced some heat in her right front hoof and was lame on that forelimb. The vet ruled out an abscess and gave me permission to work on Willow. The vet did note before my visit that her gait was abnormal in the hindquarters. The vet put Willow on restricted turnout on a firm flat surface for four weeks with Bute, which was to be reviewed.

On initial assessment Willow was exhibiting a complicated lameness, which basically means there were a number of factors affecting how she was moving. Firstly we had the forelimb lameness, which potentially was secondary referred lameness. There was axial lameness also occurring, which can be difficult to observe. Willow also had a non weight bearing lameness in her left hind, which showed in the flight pattern and placement of it along her midline when stepping through. This affected both straight line walking and turning to the left. On occasion Willow was hesitant to place her left hind hoof down. Willow bobs her head down (suggesting a hind limb lameness), walks on 3 tracks and has a right hind leg wobble when transferring weight onto it.

When palpating Willow showed discomfort through her lumbar and sacral area. Her neck showed tightness bilaterally but more so on the left. Willow had decreased tone and atrophy in the musculature of her hind quarters specifically the gluteus medius, gluteus superficialis, vastus lateralis, rectus femoris, bicep femoris and tensor fasciae latae. The quadriceps and tensor fasciae latea also showed decreased activation on the right side, which could explain the right hind leg wobble on weight bearing.

As you can see from the initial assessment Willow does need some help to allow her to move more comfortably and be able to deal with her environment without suffering physically. In part 2 we will look at the treatment given to Willow and the progress she made.

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