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Ask Dr. Dave

Becky from Oregon, writes to Sharon and Dr. Dave:

Dear Sharon and Dr. Dave,

Hope you both had a lovely holiday season. My daughter Corrie Hirschbock can’t wait for your next clinic, and for another Classic. Unfortunately, Corrie and I have some bad news. After the classic Corrie’s horse Peppy started having lameness issues in her right. front. After several different trips to the veterinarian, we finally went to Pullman Washington (Washington State University) – they are fantastic. We had a MRI scan done and Peppy was diagnosed with a tear in her flexor cortical tendon. She also has one on her left front. We injected both bursa and both coffin joints but she still is showing a little lameness. Our next step is to nerve her.

I would like to know your opinion on nerving a horse. The vets are telling me that it is not like it was done in my day anymore – with no feeling to the feet at all. They are saying that Peppy will still have feeling in her toes. The other downfall to the nerving is that it only lasts for about two years.

With either scenario I a looking at finding another horse for Corrie. If you know of any available out there that are reasonably priced, could you please let me know? Best wishes and God bless.

Dear Becky,

Sharon forwarded your letter to me. I'm sorry to hear about your horse Peppy. It's always disappointing to have a horse that is working well to then become lame. Yes, WSU is a fantastic veterinary school, and their MRI unit can certainly tell us a lot.

I question the effectiveness of injecting the navicular bursas and coffin joints when in fact these areas do not communicate with the injured structures. It doesn't surprise me Peppy is still lame.

Many years ago we nerved my wife's barrel horse, thinking this was the thing to do. After she fell with my wife around the second barrel, I decided my wife was more important than winning a race! We retired the mare from competition.

Now as a father, I would never mount any child on a horse that has been nerved, and truthfully, as a veterinarian, I would never encourage a person to ride a nerved horse. It's just not worth it! (Although I know many nerved horses are being ridden, however life is way too important to me to take that risk!)

Retrospective studies has shown that on the average, effective nerving will allow a horse approximately one and a half more years of competitive service. And yes, correct heel nerving should not effect the feeling in the front portion of the hoof, thereby making the procedure ineffective anyway.

I am glad you have decided to retire Peppy from racing. I strongly suggest you look for another horse to compete on, and give Peppy some time to possibly heal on his on.

I wish you and Corrie the best,

Dr. Dave