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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan. 10, 2010
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    Prince Edward Island, Canada
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    289

    Unhappy Hock spur - inject or cut our losses?

    I have a coming 5 year old with a small hock spur in his left hock. We found this out during a PPE when he was 3 years old. At the time we considered cutting our losses and putting him down, but he is such a sweet loving gelding who had not shown any signs of lameness yet so we decided to wait and see what happened when he was started under saddle. We realized then that all the money we had invested in him would never be recuperated, nor would the money we invested from that point on, but we hoped that he would at least be "usable" for someone so he could find a good home.

    So we waited until he was 4.5 years old to start him. He has been under saddle for 3 months now, and he is going relatively well, but he is bucking VIOLENTLY in the right lead canter, so we have to accept the reality that it is most likely the hock spurs (because he is generally a very easy going and lazy horse).

    That leaves us with a really tough decision - at what point do you throw in the towel?

    I have no experience with hock injections or hock spurs - so I have no frame of reference - I have no problem getting him injected twice a year for the rest of his life if it works, but I don't want to throw my money down the drain if I am just delaying the inevitable.

    Suggestions? Anyone have success with hock injections as a treatment for bone spurs?



  2. #2
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    Jul. 6, 2005
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    256

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    To answer your question, it would be highly dependent on how significant the spur is and where exactly it is located in the hock. There are many horses that have a hock spur and it never causes any ill effects. I am a little confused because you say small spur, but then note you were thinking of putting him down. I would be very surprised if a small spur was cause for that. While it obviously is coincidental that he is showing signs of behavior issues while going to the right, there certainly "could" be other causes so I would think a full evaluation might be warranted. Have you x-rayed his hock again...any change? No change would say just a little, but if there were significant changes that might tell you more given the short timeframe.

    What breed is he? How big is he?



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr. 14, 2001
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    Minnesota
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    I would repeat the radiographs and see how it's progressed before making any decisions. If the new rads look TERRIBLE and the spur has progressed into something more serious...well....you've got your answer. If the rads are unchanged and you've still just got a small spur, perhaps it would be worth trying injections.



  4. #4
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    Nov. 26, 2005
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    Is he positive to flexing ?



  5. #5
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    Jan. 10, 2010
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    Prince Edward Island, Canada
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    Is he positive to flexing ?
    Nothing showed up in the flexion tests when he was 3 - but perhaps now would be different.

    I guess it is time to get the vet out again and re-do the rads.

    What breed is he? How big is he?
    He is a Dutch Warmblood and Quarter Horse cross and is 16.2hh. He has an amazing temperament - everyone always falls in love with him because he is a real snuggle bug and very handsome. My husband is head over heels in love with him - so he is taking the thought of euthanizing him the hardest. Horses can be so heart breaking.

    I have the rads saved somewhere on my computer - I will see if I can post them somewhere.



  6. #6
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    Jul. 6, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ysabel View Post
    Nothing showed up in the flexion tests when he was 3 - but perhaps now would be different.

    I guess it is time to get the vet out again and re-do the rads.



    He is a Dutch Warmblood and Quarter Horse cross and is 16.2hh. He has an amazing temperament - everyone always falls in love with him because he is a real snuggle bug and very handsome. My husband is head over heels in love with him - so he is taking the thought of euthanizing him the hardest. Horses can be so heart breaking.

    I have the rads saved somewhere on my computer - I will see if I can post them somewhere.
    Honestly, I think you might be way ahead of yourself. First, do an evaluation and see if he is positive to the flexions, if he is not (as he wasn't at 3) then you might really be going somewhere you don't have to. A spur in a WB is really not that surprising -- where it is and how it may or may not be affecting the joint is really the question you need to get answered.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar. 1, 2007
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    Canada
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    He is a Dutch Warmblood and Quarter Horse cross and is 16.2hh. He has an amazing temperament - everyone always falls in love with him because he is a real snuggle bug and very handsome. My husband is head over heels in love with him - so he is taking the thought of euthanizing him the hardest. Horses can be so heart breaking

    Honestly, I have never heard of anying euthing over hock chips?. We had one youngster with chips in both of his hocks and we found them at age one. He had the surgery, which in most cases is very straightforward and highly successful, and he recovered with no ill effects and totally normal hocks (and excellent prognosis for a full sport career). The reason it is good to have the surgery done early is because it prevents the chips from causing osteoarthritis down the road. Once the arthritis developes then you have that to contend with ie injections ect. Most horses respond very well to injections and if he is sound to look at I am doubtful the arthritis is even bad at all?

    If the xrays show that he may not hold up to a sport career long term, then why not find him a home where he will be used less ie as a pleasure or low level horse? Mild hock arthritis (if that is even what it is at this point) shouldn't be a death sentence!
    www.svhanoverians.com

    "Simple: Breeding,Training, Riding". Wolfram Wittig.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec. 27, 1999
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    Midland, NC, USA
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    I have a 9yo mare who had bilateral bone spurs in the lower hock joint (basically a little lip at the top of the cannon bone) at 5. Mild response to flexion on one. She has taken three riders Training level eventing, one First Level dressage schooling 2nd, and never had any problem with regular work.

    vet opinions to original rads? "she's worthless" (potential buyer's vet), "remove surgically" (one of my vets) and "problem? Where? Are you kidding? Put her to work and if it's a problem inject it" (rood & riddle vet)

    Jennifer



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 19, 2005
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    PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ysabel View Post

    I have no experience with hock injections or hock spurs - so I have no frame of reference - I have no problem getting him injected twice a year for the rest of his life if it works, but I don't want to throw my money down the drain if I am just delaying the inevitable.

    Suggestions? Anyone have success with hock injections as a treatment for bone spurs?

    With a good sport vet....hock injections are not a huge deal. Our vet does them at the farm. Not overly expensive (few hundred). Little tranq, two days off...horse is back in work. There can be complications but it is unusual. A young horse might just need them once every few years....or at most once a year...especially if you supplement with other joint supplements like Pentosan or Adaquan.

    BUT before you head there...make sure that is the issue. Flex, repeat xrays....and I would have it blocked and see if the horse goes better.

    I wouldn't give up on him yet if he has such a great personality. Good luck!!!
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **



  10. #10
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    Jan. 10, 2010
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    Prince Edward Island, Canada
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    If the xrays show that he may not hold up to a sport career long term, then why not find him a home where he will be used less ie as a pleasure or low level horse?
    That was really all we were hoping for - even if he could do lower level dressage and trail riding I would be happy. With his temperament I could even use him as a school horse. But he can't do any of that if he is bucking in the canter.

    It is the original vet who put the thought of euthanizing him in my head - she had me in tears by the time she was off the phone with me - but then a few friend talked me down off my "ledge", and that is when I made the decision to just put him to work and keep our fingers crossed. I also talked to a few more vets since that told me that hock spurs "may" never give him troubles - so I was feeling good about my decision - but when the bucking started the words of the original vet sort of came back to haunt me. That is why I came on here - to hear from people with experience dealing with this.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar. 11, 1999
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    Clayton, CA USA
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    Years ago I bought a seven y.o. Hanoverian mare who had a hock spur. She was sound to flexions and in work. The spur was significant enough that my consulting vet didn't think she would be a good idea if I were looking to resell, but I wasn't, so I got her. His comment at the time was that maintaining the hock, should she have trouble later, wouldn't be too difficult. She is now 18 and has never taken a lame step. I'm another who is puzzled by euthanasia suggestions for a horse who is said to have a small spur. I would certainly want to redo the rads and have another evaluation of the hock, especially now that your horse is in work.
    Mystic Owl Sporthorses
    www.mysticowlsporthorses.com



  12. #12
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    Jul. 6, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ysabel View Post
    That was really all we were hoping for - even if he could do lower level dressage and trail riding I would be happy. With his temperament I could even use him as a school horse. But he can't do any of that if he is bucking in the canter.

    It is the original vet who put the thought of euthanizing him in my head - she had me in tears by the time she was off the phone with me - but then a few friend talked me down off my "ledge", and that is when I made the decision to just put him to work and keep our fingers crossed. I also talked to a few more vets since that told me that hock spurs "may" never give him troubles - so I was feeling good about my decision - but when the bucking started the words of the original vet sort of came back to haunt me. That is why I came on here - to hear from people with experience dealing with this.
    I'd put the words of that original vet right out of your mind...sounds like that one was off their rocker to be that extreme with what was then a 3 year old. Particularly since he wasn't even lame. I'd take a breath, put the euthanizing out of your mind and slowly work through the present issues. It really isn't all that surprising to hit bumps on the training road even with the most laid back individuals. I will tell you I have a 13 year old WB doing the 3'6 hunters who certainly has some blemishes on his x-rays -- including his hocks. But they've really not changed in the last 8 years and he does his job happily. (He does sometimes like to buck! ) I think you'll get through this just fine!



  13. #13
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    Oct. 22, 2009
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    Why would you consider euthanasia for a small hock spur? Many horses off the track and sport horses in later years develop hock spurs to varying degrees. I would consult a second vet and get flexions, x-rays, and discuss treatment plans (hock injections and an injectable joint supplement such as legend or adequan).

    I would look to saddle fit or sore back for the bucking under saddle.
    .



  14. #14
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    Mar. 12, 2005
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    Let's put some logic into this situation. You have a young horse with a minor x ray finding who also bucks when going into right canter.

    The question is are these two things linked? If they are linked then the cause would be pain. So the answer, surely, is to aim to remove the possibility of pain and see if the horse's behaviour changes.

    The simplest way to do this is to give your horse a loading dose of Bute. It's cheap and effective. If your horse stops bucking then you know the cause of the behaviour is pain although you don't know where that pain is coming from but it would then make sense to have a vet out and do nerve blocks in the horse's leg to establish the area that is sore.

    IMO jumping to the conclusion that a minor x ray change =pain = misbehaviour = euthanise is madness! Give the horse a chance.

    I also think that jumping straight to hock injections is jumping to conclusions. You have to find out if the bucking (which is the problem. If the horse was not bucking you would not have a problem, would you?) is pain related or behavioural.

    The logical path to follow is Bute then reassess under saddle.
    If no improvement send the horse away for reschooling.
    If there is improvement call your vet for a full lameness work up with nerve blocks.

    I'd be very surprised if this is anything more than a schooling issue.



  15. #15
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    Jan. 15, 2004
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    Lancaster, PA, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by stolensilver View Post
    Let's put some logic into this situation. You have a young horse with a minor x ray finding who also bucks when going into right canter.

    The question is are these two things linked? If they are linked then the cause would be pain. So the answer, surely, is to aim to remove the possibility of pain and see if the horse's behaviour changes.

    The simplest way to do this is to give your horse a loading dose of Bute. It's cheap and effective. If your horse stops bucking then you know the cause of the behaviour is pain although you don't know where that pain is coming from but it would then make sense to have a vet out and do nerve blocks in the horse's leg to establish the area that is sore.

    IMO jumping to the conclusion that a minor x ray change =pain = misbehaviour = euthanise is madness! Give the horse a chance.

    I also think that jumping straight to hock injections is jumping to conclusions. You have to find out if the bucking (which is the problem. If the horse was not bucking you would not have a problem, would you?) is pain related or behavioural.

    The logical path to follow is Bute then reassess under saddle.
    If no improvement send the horse away for reschooling.
    If there is improvement call your vet for a full lameness work up with nerve blocks.

    I'd be very surprised if this is anything more than a schooling issue.
    this covers it prefectly



  16. #16
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    Aug. 19, 2010
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    Ottawa, Ontario
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    Quote Originally Posted by stolensilver View Post
    Let's put some logic into this situation. You have a young horse with a minor x ray finding who also bucks when going into right canter.

    The question is are these two things linked? If they are linked then the cause would be pain. So the answer, surely, is to aim to remove the possibility of pain and see if the horse's behaviour changes.

    The simplest way to do this is to give your horse a loading dose of Bute. It's cheap and effective. If your horse stops bucking then you know the cause of the behaviour is pain although you don't know where that pain is coming from but it would then make sense to have a vet out and do nerve blocks in the horse's leg to establish the area that is sore.

    IMO jumping to the conclusion that a minor x ray change =pain = misbehaviour = euthanise is madness! Give the horse a chance.

    I also think that jumping straight to hock injections is jumping to conclusions. You have to find out if the bucking (which is the problem. If the horse was not bucking you would not have a problem, would you?) is pain related or behavioural.

    The logical path to follow is Bute then reassess under saddle.
    If no improvement send the horse away for reschooling.
    If there is improvement call your vet for a full lameness work up with nerve blocks.

    I'd be very surprised if this is anything more than a schooling issue.
    Well said!



  17. #17
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    Jul. 5, 2002
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    FL
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    Quote Originally Posted by stolensilver View Post
    Let's put some logic into this situation. You have a young horse with a minor x ray finding who also bucks when going into right canter.

    The question is are these two things linked? If they are linked then the cause would be pain. So the answer, surely, is to aim to remove the possibility of pain and see if the horse's behaviour changes.

    The simplest way to do this is to give your horse a loading dose of Bute. It's cheap and effective. If your horse stops bucking then you know the cause of the behaviour is pain although you don't know where that pain is coming from but it would then make sense to have a vet out and do nerve blocks in the horse's leg to establish the area that is sore.

    IMO jumping to the conclusion that a minor x ray change =pain = misbehaviour = euthanise is madness! Give the horse a chance.

    I also think that jumping straight to hock injections is jumping to conclusions. You have to find out if the bucking (which is the problem. If the horse was not bucking you would not have a problem, would you?) is pain related or behavioural.

    The logical path to follow is Bute then reassess under saddle.
    If no improvement send the horse away for reschooling.
    If there is improvement call your vet for a full lameness work up with nerve blocks.

    I'd be very surprised if this is anything more than a schooling issue.
    I agree with this 100%. There is a real possibility that the bucking is merely a coincidence, rather than something caused by a small spur that did not flex positively at age three. Your vet who was talking euthanasia sounds like a wack job. I hope he doesn't do many PPEs. I would do exactly what stolensilver recommends.

    I also had a Hanoverian that I bought as a 4 year old with hock spurs. They never bothered him. He was not unusual.



  18. #18
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    Jan. 10, 2010
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    Prince Edward Island, Canada
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    Thanks you have all been very helpful and have made me feel a lot better.

    It is really hard to feel comfortable having a different opinion then a vet when you don't know that much about the condition. Since I have no knowledge of hock spurs other than what little I have been able to find online it was very easy for the vet to make me feel hopeless. On one hand you don't want to be that annoying client that always thinks they know better than the vet, on the other hand I do realize that vets are just people and not infallible.

    I will will try a loading dose of bute on him tonight and see what happens.

    What worries me about the bucking is the way he is bucking - I expect silliness and/or stubbornness in a youngster so I am not surprised to see bucking in the canter - but when he bucks he is kicking out violently and tucking his tail between his legs - he just looks very irritated and worried. That makes me think pain somewhere so the bute idea may be able to confirm that for me.

    I don't think it is saddle fit since he is doing in on the lunge - I don't dare to try and canter him under saddle if he is that bad on a lung line (I would come off for sure - and I don't bounce like I use to). I have been trying to do lots of trot work under saddle in the hopes that it was a balance issue and the trot work would strengthen him and the trot has improved A LOT over the past few months.



  19. #19
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    Aug. 14, 2000
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    I had something not dissimilar happen when I put a 4 1/2 year old mare to work. She got extremely leg and body sore, although not bucking sore. I doubt if she has ever bucked in her life. We gave her two months off, hock and three months of IM injections of one of those not to be used Adequan or Legend substitutes, and brought her back to work in straight lines for quite a while. She also got massage and accupuncture.

    She had a complete lameness exam with all that entails with a conventional vet, and she also had a vet who practices alternative medicine. She was fine after going through this regime.

    You'd be surprised how hard going round in small circles (longeing and pure arena work) can be on a young horse's joints.

    Hock spurs--I've had one with those, and they are not necessarily the kiss of death. You can have them removed if they are causing trouble. Any state that has racing will have practices that do such work rather frequently--vet schools also do it.
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
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  20. #20
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    If the horse has a badly fitting saddle on, saddle issues can show up on the longe, not just under saddle. In fact some horses will buck on the longe and never buck under saddle, without any saddle problems.

    A good dose of bute may be a less expensive way to see if pain is causing the bucking. However, if you don't get a definitive answer with the bute, I'd recommend shooting some new xrays and doing some new flexions. I'd also recommend you use a different vet (one that specializes in lameness) if you go that route.



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