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Update to Forum Rules: Criminal Allegations

In our continuing effort to provide an avenue for individuals to voice their opinions and experiences, we have recently reviewed and updated our forum policies. Generally, we have allowed users to share their positive or negative experiences with or opinions of companies, products, trainers, etc. within the industry, and that is not changing.

When it came to overt criminal allegations, however, those discussions have in the past needed to stem from a report by a reputable news source or action by law enforcement or the legal system.

We are now expanding our policies to allow posters to share their own first-hand experiences involving overt criminal allegations, such as animal abuse or neglect, theft, etc., but only if they publicly provide their full first and last name along with the post. We still will not allow anonymous postings alleging criminal activity.

So, a user may now make a specific claim against a named individual or company, but it must be a FIRST-HAND account, and they have to IDENTIFY THEMSELVES. Users have always been legally responsible for their posts, and nothing has changed there, but we want to loosen the reins a bit and further allow the free flow of discussion and information relevant to the horse community.

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The full revised rules are posted at the top of each forum for reference.
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Forum rules and no-advertising policy

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(Revised 5/9/18)
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Tendon Splitting for Upward Fixation of Patellas

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  • Tendon Splitting for Upward Fixation of Patellas

    I am looking for some feedback from fellow COTHers who have had horses with locking stifles who have had their tendons split. How did it go? What is the horse in questions hind leg confirmation? Did the results last? How was recovery? Is there anything I am missing in my fitness program listed below that you have had success with? I have read all the previous posts on locking/sticking stifles and did not see a lot of feedback specifically regarding surgery or potential outcomes.

    Here is a profile on my guy and why I am thinking about the surgery. He is a talented 7 year old well bred warmblood. Around his two year old year, his patellas (both) started locking when he would stand still for a period of time and then try to walk forward. I bought him knowing this issue thinking it would get better with growth - which is also what several vets and trainers thought as well. Radiographs of stifles are clean. When he was younger, if he turned in a tight circle, they would lock - but he seems to have grown out of that now. Since he was three, he was free lunged in an arena over raised cavalletti and ponied up and down hills. As he started under saddle, I kept up that regime and now he does hacking hill work 1x a week and cavalletti 1x weekly in addition to general dressage work with total work days of 5-6 total. He is currently working at third level, with high scores in the 70's at second three at recognized shows. I hope to debut him at third this fall once we have our changes confirmed and confident. However, fitness has not seemed to help or improve the issue - although I never seen him "unfit" so I really have nothing to compare it to.
    He has fairly straight hind legs confirmation wise. He locks badly enough that my farrier has trouble shoeing him because he will lock while his front feet are being done and then slam his front foot down to try and compensate for balance while he unlocks the stifle in question. He has received regular chiropractic care since he was two. He lives outside in either a 70x100 paddock or in large pastures with another playful buddy 24/7. They are both active horses and move quite a bit throughout the day. I don't risk him standing still at the mounting block and locking (its happened a time before and was quite scary) so, he has learned to walk by the mounting block while I jump on. Besides these issues, it does not show itself under saddle. He will have late changes if his canter is not absolutely and perfectly through, or he is not prepared. I feel like this is just a learning curve/typical young horse issue since we have not been working on changes long, rather than a patella issue - unless someone else has experienced this otherwise?

    I feel at this point I have done everything non-invasive to help the issue - including estrogen injections, which only seemed to escalate the locking. Now being 7, it seems he has developed enough that this is an issue he will not grow out of. He will mildly drag his hind toes (again, even on both sides) at liberty. If he doesn't have hind shoes, he will square his hind toes. I appreciate the feedback on your experiences to help me make the most informed decision on my boy! Thank you!

  • #2
    You might want to move this to Horse Care where a bigger cross section of members would see it.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


    • #3
      Is your chiro really really good with pelvises? I have a horse who had a locking stifle, and my vet/chiro said that she felt that it is almost always due to an imbalanced pelvis. So when she started working on my guy, she brought in her mentor who she calls her "pelvis expert." The before and after difference was absolutely incredible! I wish I had gotten the locking stifle on video so that I could show it!

      My point is that my very very good chiropractor didn't feel that she had the necessary experience (despite being able to understand what needed to get done) to fully get the job done, and it might be worth trying to find someone else to work on the horse? With my guy, it took several sessions to "work out" the locking, but eventually it because an issue of the past with no more locking stifles (in many years since).

      When I brought up the ideas of blistering versus estrone versus more extreme therapies, she laughed at me (nicely) and said that none of that was necessary and in most cases fixing the pelvis would fix the issue.
      Flying F Sport Horses
      Horses in the NW


      • #4
        I had the procedure done on my 5 year old - his UFP was mild but it was causing him discomfort and he had behavior issues because of it. I would do it again in a heartbeat. We still have to work on fitness and he does have a "slip" once in a while but it has totally taken away the behavior issues. My vet told me it could be done again if it wasn't enough the first go round but it has worked. He had two weeks off with turnout after the procedure and then back to work.

        Best decision I have made...we chased a mild hind end lameness for over a year (bone scan, blocks, strength work, estrone, wedges on his hind feet, were all tried first) and this quick procedure did the trick. Wish I had done it sooner!


        • #5
          I had an Appendix QH gelding that I was competing in H/J many years ago that was MISDIAGNOSED with a luxating patella. In fact, he had hindquarter fibrotic myopathy. But that's a whole 'nuther can of worms.

          Before I realized that the vet who was treating him was a total quack, I allowed him to do severing the tendon surgery. What this did was to make the horse unable to sleep standing up. Not a big deal, he managed. But it also completely ended his jumping career and made him permanently lame. It was a mechanical lameness, not a functional one - he was not in any pain, however he was no longer show ring sound. I gave him to the riding school where I was teaching to use as the fantastic flat schoolmaster he was. It was heartbreaking. He lived a good long time and taught many, many people to ride. I think it was the true cause of his lameness, the fibrotic myopathy, that caused him to be lame, not severing the pateller tendon.

          Now, that was all a VERY long time ago - over 30 years. I have no doubt that the diagnostics and treatments now are vastly improved, so you are unlikely to encounter the problems that I did. The surgery is supposed to work and the horse none the worse for wear. If it were me, I would get a second opinion before going for the surgery, but then I would definitely go for it again.

          Best of luck to you and your horse.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Mondo View Post

            Before I realized that the vet who was treating him was a total quack, I allowed him to do severing the tendon surgery. What this did was to make the horse unable to sleep standing up.
            The splitting procedure is not the same thing as the severing procedure. The splitting only puts small cuts in the ligament which then develops scar tissue which, in theory, tightens the ligament and prevents the locking. It is my understanding the severing is a last ditch effort.


            • #7
              My retired 21-year-old had the splitting procedure done when he was nine. We had tried everything up to that point to no avail. After the splitting was done, he gradually improved and within a year the stifle locking had completely resolved and never returned. As I recall, the recovery was no big deal. I don't think he got more than a couple of days off.

              He was retired for other reasons, but the stifle problem has not been an issue, and he is completely out of shape. He is very straight behind.


              • #8
                Did you do the tendon splitting? I am scheduled to have this done to my mare next Tuesday... curious how it worked for you and what you did for recovery.


                • #9
                  I haven't, but I have a friend who had it done with her horse. It was like a miracle - within a matter of a few months, she was totally normal. Her vet did it in the field - quick and easy surgery.


                  • #10
                    I just had the splitting done on a horse about a month ago. The procedure was pretty simple. The horse had three days with 24 hour turnout and then back to work. Before the surgery, the horse had very mild interference which affected ability to collect. Post surgery, horse starts out pretty uncomfortable and unhappy about going forward, but once warmed up is moving well and seems better able to collect. Im hoping for more improvement. Any feedback on how long it takes to assess final result?

                    Misticoakranch - it sounds like your friend's horse took three months? How did she progress before she became totally normal? Was she resistant to pushing through the discomfort for a period?


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Helicon View Post

                      Misticoakranch - it sounds like your friend's horse took three months? How did she progress before she became totally normal? Was she resistant to pushing through the discomfort for a period?
                      She wasn't a dressage horse, start with that. Friend rehabbed her very slowly - just walking for several weeks, then added the trot for several weeks, then finally the canter. By 3 months, she was totally normal. She does trail primarily - but a bit of basic flatwork - she's a well schooled trail horse rather then a dressage horse. I think because she took it so slow, mare really wasn't sore, so no resistance. By 3 months, she had "completed" her slow rehab, and the mare was happy and doing WTC with no complaints, as well as trails, hills, water, etc. Before she was quite bad - one side was worse, bad enough to lock up and drag for a few steps. And backing was not even possible.