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#1 kaboodle

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 08:11 AM

We have a 9 year old mini who has been having problems for quite a few years now. And I'm not sure if it is a stifle problem. One vet said yes, both are "loose". He can trot fine but when asked to canter he loses his outside leg, has to go back to trot, and then can pick up the canter. By loses, it looks like it just stiffens up at the hip and cannot straighten. He does this both ways of the ring, always the outside hind leg, when free lunged in our 60-100 ring. I have also noted a click when he trots now (off and on). A massage therapist was here for another horse so I had her look at him also. She said his problem was that his one hip was higher than the other. Really? Exercise is good for stifle problems - yes? Problem with our two minis is that they are insulin resistant (how did I get so lucky to have both develop this?) and have foundered. So they are on dry lot, no grass, and their "area" is small. They both get thyrol (their thyroid levels were very low), quiessence, and NO grain. And I try to find not-the-best hay around hoping to keep the carbs down. Anyways, can the stifle problem be bilateral and should I ask him to exercise even when his legs are locking up?
We do not have any local vets that are knowledgeable about minis like this forum is; so hoping you can give advice.

Kit

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#2 Guest_krissy3_*

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 08:44 AM

I have a mare just 3 years old now and had a slight stiffel issue bilateral. She is the opposite, she looks like she is wearing a full diaper at the walk, stiff and not so pretty , but at the trot and canter is very nice and balanced. She also had a slight splay hoof. The stiffel issue seemed to be in one knee, then the other, one always being worse then the other, but both very slight. We did therapy for 1 year , and she is 80% better, I am happy with the way she is moving now. For the year I did a lot of hill work, and no round penning, in fact I am just now starting to round pen her for the first time at 3 years old. both the Farrier and vet wanted her to move forward up and down hills without a lot of turns to avoid added pressure on her knees. I fortunatly have a large steep hill in the pasture that the horses have to climb up and down everyday, and I added ground poles to the gate opening of her field. A combination of ground poles, hills, and a good 20 inch step up to her stall really strengthened the muscle in front of her knees. My recomendation is to give her as much space to walk around in , even if it means tearing up the grass and adding rock or sand or stall mats. i would then add things like poles, hills , anything to force her to pick up those legs and build a bit of muscle. This is of course not going to work if her problem is more serious then a matter of strengthing her legs in the right places. But at least it is a start and it cant hurt her problem, only make it a little better. Both vet and farrier agreed to stay away from jumping , and round pen work for at least another year or two. I wish you luck, I was not too successful with finding a lot of info on how this problem developes , and how you can fix it naturally. If the stiffel is NOT locking , then hopefully you can improve the movement by developing the inner and outter muscles around the knee.
Krissy

#3 stormy

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 09:34 AM

There is a non-invasive procedure that can be done, works on mild cases I think better than more severe ones. Using a hypodermic needle your veterinarian can split the tendon. No incision, short recovery. I have had good luck with this on three horses, and one more severe case where it was not successful.

#4 kaykay

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 09:58 AM

At this point and given his age I would try the correction stormy gave. It does work well you just dont want to do it on young horses till they are at least 3 (unless the locking becomes so bad that its daily)

And yes all the vets I have consulted say excercise is good expecially up and down hill to build and strengthen it. Stalling will make it worse

#5 Charlotte

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 11:28 AM

Another suggestion. Check your hoof trim. Keep hind toes short with hind foot trimmed more upright. Spuare or 'roll' the toe also to encourage quicker breakover.

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#6 kaboodle

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 03:24 PM

Thanks everyone. Kit's "pasture" is all slope - there is no level ground around here so guess that will help. He is very straight front and back; but I will tell the blacksmith next week to try to keep him straight and roll the toes behind.
Stormy - Does the non-invasive procedure have to be done at an equine clinic (university setting) because I can't believe any vet around here could do that.

#7 hobbyhorse23

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 05:02 PM

QUOTE (stormy @ Mar 26 2010, 07:34 AM)
There is a non-invasive procedure that can be done, works on mild cases I think better than more severe ones. Using a hypodermic needle your veterinarian can split the tendon. No incision, short recovery.

I'm a little confused- how is it possible to cut something with a hypodermic needle? unsure.gif

What you're describing sounds like a combination of two of the standard treatments for locking stifle. Sometimes in mild cases an irritant such as iodine is injected into the muscle to cause blistering and scarring which may resolve the problem. In more severe cases a small incision is made and a scalpel is used to split the tendon, again, in order to cause scarring and tighten the tendon. Sometimes these work in very mild cases but for a horse with a consistent problem the more permanent medial patellar ligament desmotomy (cutting of the ligament in question) is a 100% fix. Same small incision but they cut across the ligament, severing it, instead of slicing horizontally. There are two other patellar ligaments in the equine stifle so while it does create a little instability at first scar tissue will help stabilize it over time and the horse can return to completely normal work.

Stifle problems can definitely be bilateral and yes, assuming it truly is a case of locking up and not a different sort of condition or injury then exercise is the best thing for them...especially when they are locking up! As you have found, both work on a circle and work at the canter are quite difficult for horses with stifle problems and it's better to take them out on hills and in straight lines if possible. Pole work is good as it strengthens the quadriceps and helps to naturally shorten the soft tissues in the area.

How is your horse at the walk? Normally Upward Fixation of the Patella (UFP or "locking stifles") is most noticeable when when standing or walking and often gets better once the horse gets moving. Both of my boys with it consistently cross-led at the canter and sort of bounced along in the rear like a pogo stick but their legs weren't actually locked, just not moving right. But at a walk they'd truly lock up and drag the leg with the toe pointed.

Hips certainly do get uneven and a good chiropractor can fix that but it shouldn't have anything to do with locking up except as a result in my experience.

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#8 kaboodle

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 06:58 PM

Thanks Leia,
Kit only does his funny leg thing at the canter; and only on the off leg so I really can't see what exactly is happening. It looks like it is getting stuck, he swings it wide, stops and then starts again. He has always been very upright on his feet and hits his toes first up front when walking. Like he is tip-toeing then puts down his heels. It sounds like from your help, that I need to get him better evaluated. Maybe this isn't really locking stifles? but it has been going on for years. Never noticed any injury either. Thanks for your answers.
Kit

#9 hobbyhorse23

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 10:34 PM

Interesting! I think I'd still avoid circling if possible since it causes him problems but I would definitely get him professionally evaluated by a high quality equine bodyworker. A chiropractor would be a good place to start followed possibly by someone experienced in barefoot trimming. I don't use the method personally but if he's landing toe-first he may have some whole-body issues stemming from his feet and a natural balance farrier would be experienced in correcting that.

Good luck with this guy! He's lucky to have such a caring owner.

Leia

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RIP Spyderman, January 12, 1977 - May 27, 2010
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