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Sickle hock and loin pain, are they related?

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  • Sickle hock and loin pain, are they related?

    Hi ,I have a mare on trial for a month, she is a little sickle hocked.
    The mare is coming four this year (TB/Qh percheron x) she was started last spring and then turned out for the past seven months. I have been lunging her in side reins and riding her consistently since the beginning of March. The other day when I was grooming she pinned her ears when I curried her over her loin area.

    I haven't had my saddle reflocked to fit her, since she is on a month trial; but, she isn't bothered by being saddled/ cinched ect. And I am wondering if possibly the soreness is a pressure point for the hocks.

    If it is related to the hocks and not the saddle then what might I be in for if I decide to keep this mare?

  • #2
    If she was started as a 3 yr. old and is being lunged frequently "coming four", it's way too much and too early for a draft x. I didn't even start mine until age four. Even then just hacked them out (no lunging) until age 4 1/2. Didn't start "serious" work until 5, but never kept them on the lunge beyond 10 minutes until they were 6.

    They didn't fully mature (skeletal and muscle) until they were about 7 years old. Keep that in mind with the work you do.

    Surely sickle hocks aren't helpful for long-term soundness, but lunging can surely create problems that might not be a problem if you let them mature a bit. JME with a boat load of tb/shire x's (who, btw, are still sound in dressage in their mid/late teens).

    Bottom line? Though I haven't had one, I would think that sickle hocks and loin pain can be related. But you can create the same problem with these late maturing x's by excessive lunging and asking for "collection" while they are still growing.

    Hope this helps.
    www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
    "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
    Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


    • #3
      She might just be being marish - a lot of mares with perfectly healthy backs get very nasty when you piddle around with their back and flanks.

      If she really is sore, which is possible, though not mandatory, yes, hock pain and back pain are very good friends.

      There's also every possibility that it's spring, and a young mare can get VERY back sore and touchy in spring when she starts to cycle again.

      And yes, longeing a 3 year old draft cross is a recipe for disaster. You may dodge the bullet with 1-2 horses, but it's just not the best idea. They take a long time to grow up.

      That's not to say that sickle hocks cause PAIN, in and of themselves. No, they don't. The thing is not that a horse is in pain all the time with sickle hocks, it's that they're just far, far more likely to get arthritis in those hocks.

      If a horse is SORE in the hind legs anywhere, he is usually SORE in his back too.


      • #4
        Actually, I I rethink the OP's post, this mare was started as a "coming" 3 yr. old. What was involved with "starting"? Doing what and for how long? Precision of information is important.

        Regardless of how the horse was started, it's great that she was turned out for the next 7 months.

        But again...what is the regimen for this "coming" 4 year old -- in very clear terms? That information would be very helpful.

        SLC, absolutely agree with the "ovary" problem...or even when some horses get very, very cranky when they start shedding out and being groomed.

        Regardless, this horse IME may be just having the screws put to it before it is physically ready. I trust the "starter" and OP don't mean any harm.

        Draft x's require a pretty keen eye when trying to put the goods on them a bit too young IF you want to keep them sound and happy for long term. Many are such "old souls" even as youngsters, they try hard and when they can't, they stop. They are SO late maturing, but so willing...and they can run into trouble (sort of like the talented 10 year old girl in competitive gymnastics).

        They're a bit more like a Cockburn port, rather than an early harvest Reisling...wink!
        www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
        "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
        Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


        • Original Poster

          Ok, thanks. She is 1/8 percheron. Her dam was TB/percheron/QH and her sire is QH. So, she is mostly QH, but could be still growing. She was started at a hunter barn and I'm not sure exactly what they did with her, but the barn has a very good reputation so probably nothing horribly demanding. She is very green, very little steering....

          She was on turn out for seven months after she came home from the hunter barn. I have her on 2x the feed she was on + vits. I'm lunging her with one side reign on the outside, last notch it's usually slack. I lunge her on both sides for about 5 -10 minutes before I ride.

          The first week and a half she showed no signs of soreness, now her back is sore on both sides and I think her left hock has more heat in it than the right, but it's not swollen and she is not lame.

          Also, her pasterns in the back are long and fetlocks closer to the ground than what is ideal.

          I am going out to the barn tonight I'll take some pic's and put them up thanks.


          • #6
            I had one draft x that had to have hind shoes with trailers (not my favorite thing to do) as a 2 yr. old to give support to those hind pasterns that seemed to be too dropped.. and big butt he had to support while he was growing. And he wasn't even in work. He turned out perfectly as an adult, but I know that if we had not intervened, it might have turned out differently. Sometimes a bit of mechanical help with "physics" while they are growing is needed for these big dudes.

            I'm not saying that you should do that. But if you have abnormally sloping, dropping hind pasterns, be sure to keep the toes short to help breakover and get the stress off the ankles.

            Can you post a picture? That would be a huge help. "Form and function" is key -- there is no horse with perfect onformation. But a good comfo photo help assess what you think you are seeing and your horse may be accurately telling you is a problem in her way of going and her behavior.
            www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
            "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
            Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


            • Original Poster

              Here are some pics and video, they were taken last spring when she was broke. She has grown a bit since then... As you can see she doesn't look drafty. http://s224.photobucket.com/albums/d...nsRanch/Ditto/ and a video is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggprB3khKmQ Photos

              According to the woman I am buying her from she really hasn't done much, at the hunter barn they mostly took her out on trails and did some light arena work a few times a week.

              She is VERY green. anyway, thanks or all your input and opinions.


              • #8
                If you are longing her for 5-10 min on each side, so quickly after 7 mos off, she might be resentful and sore. Longeing is quite intense exercise, and needs to be done for shorter intervals at first.
                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.


                • #9
                  She looks like a sweet girl. But I would say that she is not "slightly" sickle-hocked, but "quite sicklehocked".

                  More reason to just trail ride her and keep her off the lunge or doing serious work in the school until she is more mature to see how she actually turns out, conformationally, lest she become permanently lame young.

                  There is a lot a horse and rider can learn on the trail that comes more "naturally" and with less demands from the walls of an arena...turning on the forehand, hindquarters, transitions, etc. All these things can prepare a horse for dressage when they are mature enough, physically, to handle it.

                  I would say the "jury" is out on this girl re: her hind leg conformation for long term dressage work and keeping her sound. But time will only tell. Also, I don't think her hind pasterns look to be a problem and her toe length looks fine.
                  www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                  "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                  Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                  • #10
                    While I do see what many of you are calling "sickle hock," I would say this mare is actually more "camped out" behind. The hock joint is fairly straight in its articulation. As a rule, sickle-hocking will result in more extravagant movement in the front legs, and there will be greater engagement of the hock joint.

                    The little lunging you are doing should not be a problem. If the mare is sensitive in the loin area, I would either suspect the saddle or the way you are sitting it. A saddle whose tree is too narrow for the horse on which it is being used is one of the biggest offenders for creating loin area pressure points.


                    • #11
                      Regardless of the terminology..I'd be very careful with the kind of work you ask of this girl until she is mature.
                      www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                      "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                      Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                      • Original Poster

                        Ahh, I hate trail riding I live in Western Wa. I have also noticed that she stands funny in the cross ties, I kinda chalked it up to her being three. But, her hocks do come in at an angle when she is resting.
                        This probably isn't related but she likes to cross canter on the lunge she picks up the right leads when I'm riding but I haven't been cantering her under saddle for more than one round around the arena.
                        The saddle hasn't been fitted to her specifically yet but the tree is not too narrow.
                        I am worried about her back being sore and it being related to her hocks, is there anything I can look for that may determine if it is or is not related?

                        I would like also to know besides trail riding; excersizes that may help this problem. She has a fabulous temperament and I would like to keep her but I can't afford to board a lame horse.


                        • #13
                          Angel is incorrect, this horse is sickle hocked.

                          She also is quite low set in front, with very short front legs compared to her hind legs, a soft back and a high croup, and has a long coupling (space between last rib and croup). She seems to have a very willing, decent, cooperative temperament. I'd take my time if she was mine, condition her gradually over time.


                          • #14
                            As to your question, have the vet out to look at her. Personally I wouldn't ride a 3 year old consistently, muchless start a horse in their 2 year old spring, but honestly chances are very light controlled exercise probably isnt the problem. With her conformation, which looks to me to have three major issues- sickle hocks, downhill build, and possibly behind at the knee/calf kneed- there is no telling whether she will stay sound into the future, or if her current workload is too much for her. A vet though, may be able to give you some insight into whether there is any damage there currently, whether her saddle is the problem, or what her potential might be.


                            • Original Poster

                              She is only three, do you think her front end might catch up to the back? I have until April, 1st to decide if I keep her or not. I haven't been pushing her too hard but I want to know what I'm going to have once she is fit and healthy... I'm having the vet out tomorrow for the PPE, is there anything specifically I should ask them?


                              • #16
                                IMHE Percheron X's frequently do not look "drafty" until they are around 5/6 year olds. Possibly,because they do not have the bone, say of a Belgian or the other draft breeds.
                                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.


                                • #17
                                  I also agree, she is VERY sickle hocked. Of course that can relay to loin pain, because she will strain her loin carrying herself. She might grow up to support herself, and get stronger, but she will still be quite sickle hocked. Sorry if that's not what you wanted to hear, but those of us telling you that are telling you the truth.
                                  She also looks really long in the back to me, and has the drop behind the withers of a horse that will continue to drop in the back...I'd expect to see that back on a long backed 12 year old, not a 3 year old. A vet will tell you what he or she finds that day....it is not really their job to evaluate potential.
                                  If it were me, no matter how sweet she is, I'd let her go to someone not looking for a performance prospect, but then, that's just my fairly educated opinion.
                                  What would you try if you knew you would not fail?


                                  • Original Poster

                                    umm, I'm up for blunt opinions, that's why I am asking. This mare is #1 very sweet/ calm #2 Is very trainable 3# likes the interaction and work.
                                    I have heard that being sickle hocked doesn't necessarily mean "run for the hills" in regards to a dressage horse. The angle of her hocks makes her step under herself. But, I am afraid that it is a false/ forced positive and if in the future she is asked to come under more the whole thing will poop out. Sorry for the ineloquence of the description, but that is my fear. Because, she is sore already from 2 weeks of consistent, be it light work, I wonder, if she really will grow up into a horse that can be anything other than a trail/lesson horse.


                                    • #19
                                      No, actually, that's utter and complete baloney. I've retired two young sickle hocked dressage horses so far.

                                      If the angle is at the hock, it puts the hock in a vulnerable position and each step puts more wear and tear on the hock. This is why dressage works SO hard to get the horse to step up by bending each joint of the hind quarter and swinging the leg freely forward, from the croup on down, just a slight bit, overall moving the leg under the body, instead of having the hock overbend.

                                      This mare has several issues, and yes it is quite sickle hocked as sid says. And sid is not wrong about that; the folks who are contradicting her are. It seems we're trying to start another myth at this bb, that Anne Gribbon's letter unwittingly supported - that we can do anything with any horse, and that conformation issues don't exist, or if they do, they're actually advantages.

                                      Actually, if I wanted to keep this horse sound for a long time, I would not plan a very active, demanding career for this horse, and I would not longe her or jump her. I would allow her to work a notch or two down from 'very active, forward and correct dressage' so she wasn't working those hocks excessively hard. I would try very hard to keep her work consistent, so she was brought into a moderate level of fitness gradually and kept there very diligently, and I wouldn't throw a long heavy workout at her one day or go for a long gallop or trail ride, just cause I felt like it. This sort of hock is vulnerable both to cumulative wear and to injury.


                                      • #20
                                        As far as being "downhill" -- well she hasn't finished growing. That may well change. Of course, being downhill makes it harder for them to carry themselves and stay balanced on the lunge line.

                                        I wouldn't write her off, just let her mature, then see what you've got. I suspect that the sicklehocks will not change much change but her present "stage" of being butt-high probably will.

                                        IME, x's can go through extremely funky growth spurts. I've raised a couple who were lovely, conformationally, as babies through age 2, then between 3 and 5, looked like none of their parts fit. By 6, they were fabulous.

                                        Try to think of trail riding as "conditioning", creating an even better brain in preparation for later work if you can (wink!). Frankly, a ton of people would give their eye teeth for a dressage horse that can actually work outside of the arena without melting down.
                                        www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                                        "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                                        Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube