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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Stifle lock in a yearling - Some help please.

    I'm bummed. An 18 month old colt that I bred has recently been diagnosed with locking patella of one hind limb.

    What does this mean for his future? As a riding/competition horse? Future soundness, etc?

    I have had limited exposure to this condition so any advice, insights, info is greatly appreciated.




  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerole View Post
    I'm bummed. An 18 month old colt that I bred has recently been diagnosed with locking patella of one hind limb.

    What does this mean for his future? As a riding/competition horse? Future soundness, etc?

    I have had limited exposure to this condition so any advice, insights, info is greatly appreciated.

    Depends. Typically it just means doing things that will develop the muscles that will hold the ligament in place. On the arab facility I worked at years ago, we had one that would literally lock up so severely that the horse would drag the hind leg. Freakiest looking thing. We ended up putting him out on a fairly steep hill for a year to mature. When we brought him in, we did quite a bit of work over ground rails...some backing up, etc. But as he matured, the condition got better. Ultimately, he was completely sound with no residual after effects.
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  3. #3
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    I had one that did the same thing. She's now made over $100k on the track. We treated her with something. I will check my tack room in the morning and report back


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  4. #4
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    It's highly prevalant in Miniatures. Steep hills, trot work, no treadmilling, keep them fit. A lot of times they'll grow out of it although you can often see the affected ones get a little "hitchy" at times. Worst thing you can do is let them get squishy! I've worked with a good number of them (even owned one) and it's really not the end of the world.

    The really hitchy ones have a highly effective surgery that rarely leaves any scar.

    For a breeding animal I'd consider it a disqualifying trait, but for a riding/driving horse? Nah. I wouldn't get really concerned.
    "The nice thing about memories is the good ones are stronger and linger longer than the bad and we sure have some incredibly good memories." - EverythingButWings


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  5. #5
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    Thank you for your help so far! COTH is the best for getting advise and support!!

    So nice to hear there is a future for him.

    He is definitely in a soft condition. He lives with another colt who is lean, lean, lean. He has the same nutrition but is squishy - not grossly overweight with hard fat deposits, just rotund and unfit.

    He will be gelded shortly as he was never intended as a stud colt. But what does this condition mean as far as future re-sale goes? Is it considered an 'unsoundness'? Would you buy a horse that had a history of this as a yearling?

    Does it ever really go away/stay away? Will it reappear if he's not kept fit, or is it that once the muscles/ligaments strengthen it will cease to occur?



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerole View Post
    He will be gelded shortly as he was never intended as a stud colt. But what does this condition mean as far as future re-sale goes? Is it considered an 'unsoundness'? Would you buy a horse that had a history of this as a yearling?

    Does it ever really go away/stay away? Will it reappear if he's not kept fit, or is it that once the muscles/ligaments strengthen it will cease to occur?
    I can only answer from the Miniature perspective, but, over here in our strange little world...

    Sometimes they really do grow out of it once they stop hitting growth spurts. I think growth spurts aggravate it in general.

    Many cases you can keep at bay just keeping the pony fit. They get squishy, they start getting funky behind. Keeping them fit is important. So I wouldn't say it ever really "goes away" but a lot of times it's just a fitness issue. I've seen adults who were REALLY funky as youngsters (as in fully locked and leg-dragging) out in a 24/7 pasture situation and they're just fine. IME opinion if you've got one that's got a funky stifle and you can't keep them 24/7 pasture you've got to be vigilant on their fitness.

    The really bad cases that don't improve with maturity/strength (or need to improve promptly for the show ring) have a very minor silver-bullet-esque surgery. We call it "the surgery" Racehorses have chips removed? We have stifles fixed.

    It's not one of those things where the horse is a little hitchy, oh no, can't work them. If their leg is locked and dragging, obviously, bad idea. But if they're just a little hitchy the thing to do is to get that hindend working and the blood flowing unless they're in some obvious distress- sometimes they do seem to be bothered by things not working quite right back there.

    Obviously I'm painting this with a VERY broad brush! Your mileage may vary.

    I would NOT be quick to buy a youngster with sticky stifles. Growth can make the problem seem worse than it is, but it's really hard to tell where growth-related problems end and the real problems begin. Nor would I buy a breeding animal with bad stifles

    But an adult performance pony? It would be on my list of things to examine but if it was just the occasional bad step or an extra 5 minutes of warm-up? No big deal. I'd be way more concerned about a previous colic surgery 5 years ago than the occasional hitchy stifle.
    "The nice thing about memories is the good ones are stronger and linger longer than the bad and we sure have some incredibly good memories." - EverythingButWings



  7. #7
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    Jeez Littleum, I can't thank you enough for your candid account.

    He is a well bred warmblood/TB that is not overly large or bulky. He is out at pasture 24/7. He's never spent a day inside in his life. But he's still a bit soft. I can definitely throw him out on the hills to grow up a bit and firm up.

    I will look into 'the surgery'. Although I'd wait to see if fitness/maturity sorted it out first.

    I can't imagine trying to train a dressage/jumping mount with this issue.

    Also, is this hereditary/genetic in anyway? Should I avoid this cross again? Blame the mare? And/or stallion?

    Questions, questions...!!

    Keep the info coming. And thanks again.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerole View Post
    I will look into 'the surgery'. Although I'd wait to see if fitness/maturity sorted it out first.
    Look at it as an absolute last resort. I is done by cutting the patellar ligament and results in the horse not being able to "lock" his hind legs. Horses typically sleep standing and with the ligament clipped, they can no longer lock their legs to sleep.

    I can't imagine trying to train a dressage/jumping mount with this issue.
    Truly...with exercise and work, it typically corrects itself. The only times I've seen it, it has been in youngsters.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerole View Post
    Jeez Littleum, I can't thank you enough for your candid account.

    He is a well bred warmblood/TB that is not overly large or bulky. He is out at pasture 24/7. He's never spent a day inside in his life. But he's still a bit soft. I can definitely throw him out on the hills to grow up a bit and firm up.

    I will look into 'the surgery'. Although I'd wait to see if fitness/maturity sorted it out first.

    I can't imagine trying to train a dressage/jumping mount with this issue.

    Also, is this hereditary/genetic in anyway? Should I avoid this cross again? Blame the mare? And/or stallion?

    Questions, questions...!!

    Keep the info coming. And thanks again.
    I agree with the above that surgery would be an absolute last resort --as a yearling if you give him some time to mature, get him fitter, maybe get him on some hills I think you might be pleasantly surprised that he grows out of it. I'm not sure if you said how often he's done it? If it is constant (or often) that is one thing, if it has happened a couple/few times it could very well be growth, situational, etc. I've had a pony hunter do it out of the blue (once in his life), we managed it, got him stronger (he kept up his show schedule) and he's never done it again.

    And again I agree with the above, with the exception of the random case of my pony, its not often an issue with older horses. Since he's a yearling you have a lot of time to figure out how to get him bit more conditioned and this event will likely be a distant memory by the time he's riding horse age.



  10. #10
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    The surgery is MOST definitely a last resort, and unless you've got something really, really serious going on, not suitable for a yearling.

    I bet he's in a butt-high growth spurt- that can do it in a hurry. It goes away when they level out - but can come back when they get butt-high again.

    If he's stalled at all, keep him out if at all possible.

    If there's a hilly pasture he can go into, do that.

    This isn't uncommon and most cases go away as the horse matures, coming and going based on the growth. In most of the rest of the cases, while it can remain a bit of an issue, it's usually well-managed by keeping the horse fit.
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  11. #11
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    I had one that went through it too - showed up in his growth spurt yearling/two year old year. Absolutely keep them active, on hills if possible. I've talked to a few vets about "upward fixation of patella tendon", as well as a few people who have had horses who went through it, and the number one advice is as much exercise as possible.

    Then, if they still have the problem once they are done growing - there is a very simple surgery, scoring of the tendon - they don't cut it clean through, the vet puts little score marks in it so it is "looser" and slides off the stifle instead of being too tight and getting stuck. I have two friends who had it done - one to a Warmblood, one to a QH - and in both cases, it was done in the field, total success, horses are performance capable (well, the QH is just a beginner lesson horse, but still). But not a surgery to consider until the horse is done growing because they could just grow out of it once their tendons catch up w/ their bones!

    Off topic, but I never realized it was a mini-horse issue - all the vets I talked to said it was generally a "big horse" problem caused mostly by growth spurts. FWIW, they don't think it is hereditary.



  12. #12
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    It's a big deal in minis, and in certain big-horse breeds like the TWH where the more ideal conformation is a straight stifle
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by JB View Post
    It's a big deal in minis, and in certain big-horse breeds like the TWH where the more ideal conformation is a straight stifle
    Yep, BIG issue with Miniatures.

    As for is it heridatry... I believe that's a component. I've been involved with Minis for 20 years now (grew up with the breed) and I've seen "funky bad ends" from the same bloodlines over and over and over again. I'm not saying I've never seen it crop up randomly in other lines, but there are some lines where I've rarely seen it and some where I pretty much expect to see something wrong back there.

    That's strictly my experience though and I'm sure it's an arguable point.

    As to if I'd repeat the breeding? I guess it would epend on a lot of things. Does/did either parent have it? How severe is it? Does the stifle conformation seem like it contributes to the problem? How good is the horse otherwise?

    I will be very honest. If I had a sire and dam that did not have it, the conformation was good, the quality of the foal was otherwise exceptional and the problem was minor? I'd probably repeat the breeding. I might get some flack for that, and I am a little squirmy admitting that. But it can so often be a maturity issue that just resolves itself (or is *easily* managed, and rarely causes the horse distress) that there are reasons to argue baby/bathwater.
    "The nice thing about memories is the good ones are stronger and linger longer than the bad and we sure have some incredibly good memories." - EverythingButWings



  14. #14
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    It sounds like he just needs to grow up a bit and get fitter.

    The first it was noticed was mid last week. One step with a straight limb and then it self corrected and he carried on like it never happened. The following day he was thoroughly checked over and poked and prodded. The hind limb was 'grabby' but not totally useless. Sometimes he looked a bit ataxic. The following day he had several steps in a row where his leg was snatched high and jerky, and two steps (4 or five steps apart) where it was locked straight out. The vet has ruled out all manner of other things.

    All your help and advice has taken me from really despondent to fairly positive. I still don't know what this means for his future as a competition horse but at least I'm not looking at having to do anything drastic in the near future.

    For those that wanted to know whether his conformation is linked to this, here is a folder of photos of him. The most recent were taken 4 weeks ago.



  15. #15
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    We've seen sticky stifles every now and then. Mostly in the boys at young ages. But they have always grown out of it and with lots of turn out and when they start work (lots of trotting) it has resolved on it's own.
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  16. #16
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    I had colt with it a long time ago. We tried conditioning (hill work etc.) and waiting to see if he would grow out of it but that didn't work. Vet said it is common in some pony lines and horses that have a straighter hind leg conformation. We ended up doing "blistering" and it worked perfectly. He did the hunter circuit for many years and never took a lame step. It was never a problem for him again.



  17. #17
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    Canone - was his condition and subsequent procedure considered an unsoundness? Something that devalued him in any way?
    Last edited by Kerole; Apr. 30, 2012 at 02:16 AM. Reason: poor grammar



  18. #18
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    Also...

    Some of have commented that a locking patella may be linked with a straight stifle.

    This is going to sound very ignorant but could someone show me what a straight stifle looks like? Does my yearling have this?



  19. #19
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    Default relieved!!!

    just read this whilst doing some research of my own, have a yearling gelding -fresian/tb - who is the first foal I have bred myself, a few months ago his hind leg starting locking up - i'd never seen anything like it, and neither had anyone on our yard. as soon as he starts moving on it he is fine, its just those first steps, particularly if turning in the stable, I wonder what feeds/supplements people recommend to help this ?(uk based) i initially cut out all hard feed, thinking that we could have caused the problem by overfeeding him as a youngster... I am going to increase the amount of trot work I do with him now, and only have him stabled for the bare minimum time, - any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated, as I have a lot of hope for him, when he is out moving properly, he looks amazing, you would never know there was a problem!!!
    thanks guys



  20. #20
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    Know a mare who was blistered as a 2 year old and it worked great. She is now 12 very active the only time we tend to see a hitch is when the mare is in heat. That won't be problem with a gelding.



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