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OCD and upper levels?

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  • OCD and upper levels?

    Maybe this topic has been covered at some point but I thought I would ask any how Actually I wonder if any studies have ever been done to determine if OCD(surgically removed followed up with proper rehab) will limit a horse from progressing through the upper levels of dressage?

  • #2

    When I read this I thought it was going to be about people with OCD (Obsessive compulsive behavior) riding dressage!!!
    "The ability to write a check for attire should not be confused with expertise. Proficiency doesn't arrive shrink-wrapped from UPS and placed on your doorstep."


    • Original Poster

      still could be...do they make it to the upper levels..Hmmm, think so!!


      • #4
        Great question. When our then 5-yr old gelding was diagnosed and subsequently had surgery for OCD lesions on both stifles, I asked the vet the prognosis. He said that if the odds fell in our favor (statistically 2/3 of horses return to some level of successful work), eventing/jumping should not be a problem but higher level dressage (which we wouldn't attain anyway) would be a problem.

        I would love to hear some great stories.


        • Original Poster

          thanks for your response. . I to would like to hear some "positive" stories.. OCD seems to be somewhat common among many horse breeds, warmbloods included. My horse had bilaterial OCD in his stifles which were removed as a coming 4 yr old. I received the same response as you from my vet.. But...it would be nice to know there are horses out there that are able to go on and preform at the upper levels even if maintance is involved(injections)..


          • #6
            I have one, a 5 year old, who had one in a stifle removed at 2. While not at upper levels, he is schooling some 2nd, and is jumping, with a 5 day a week work load, and has never ever shown anything resembling a problem.


            • #7
              It depends on the location, size of the ocd, even all ocd's on/around stifle joint aren't created equal.

              But sorry to say, and I wish I had heard different, but I don't think it's common to have an articular ocd in the stifle and hold up for upper level dressage work. If the vet says not likely, s/he's probably talking about his experience with multiple horses over time, and that's a pretty good source of information.


              • Original Poster

                Thanks!! Guess my guy is going to have to prove everyone wrong You are right slc2.. I believe OCD's found in the younger horses(prior to undersaddle lameness) are usually more severe.. Luckly, mine was found when he was put undersaddle and was pasture sound until then.. Fortunately there is maintance through injections and again...big "if", the location and type of OCD is not severe.. My youngster has been in professional training(German trainer and she isn't easy on him) for the past 7 months.. He is holding up nicely and doing 2nd level work. She has also told me that he would make it through Prix St George but it would be the piaffe/passage/tempi's that would make or break him.. So sad..


                • Original Poster

                  and slc2... coming your way!!! Just found out. Now to find a good barn


                  • #10
                    If I can help just give a shout.


                    • #11
                      My horse had an OCD fragment removed from his stifle and he is in full work, schooling PSG and piaffe/passage. He gets adequan but no injections or any serious maintenance. He is fine and I don't anticipate any problems with GP work (soundness wise at least, don't know about training/talent).
                      I know of another horse who (GASP!!) has and OCD fragment in his pastern and continues to be sound and is schooling FEI.
                      It all depends on the type and severity of the OCD!


                      • Original Poster

                        Thanks!! some good news.. My guy had a very small fragment on the right and what the vet called "a golf ball surface" on the left. Meaning the bone was "dimpled" rather than smooth which of course would cause friction. I give him adequan every month and will continue to as long as he is in work. Thanks for the positive vibes. I think this guy can do it all if he stays sound.. The next question is...Can I?


                        • #13
                          Sorry if this question is not related to upper levels, but just general riding as such, (perhaps I need to ask this in horsecare), but if the horse is not holding up for the upper levels, what are the symptoms you see then? Do you mean lame horse, stiff horse, other??

                          This thread accidentally caught my eye. My WB had OCD fragments removed of his stifle as a 2 year old, I bought him as a 7 year old. I never thought any of it, as the different insurance companies I had since then, never considered it an issue and nevertheless insured his stifles (no exclusions) based upon the X-rays provided, which showed a perfect surgery had been done.
                          Hence I never thought this would be a problem.
                          Lately he's catching his stifles, x-rays & us, show nothing alarming. This thread now got me wondering if the catching stifles could in any sense be linked to a surgery he had 9 years ago.


                          • Original Poster

                            From what I gathered from my vet(large state equine hospital), I would probably notice lameness more than a "hitch" Not tracking under, switching leads, difficulty sitting and pushng from behind. .. Arthritis is certainly a possibility but then believe all horses will suffer from some degree of arthritis as they age. The wear and tear on the joints during the highly collective movements of dressage is substantial. Adequan and joint suppliments will help. Of course, there are joint injections and they do seem to help many horses.. Again, not all will be totally sound although many go on and perform at the top levels.. Again, I think it depends on the type of OCD, age it was found and how involved it was in with the surrounding tissue. Again, I am not a vet.. just what I was told which is why I asked this question.. I want to hear about some positive outcomes...


                            • #15
                              I have a show jumping background, and have seen horses with a lot of different 'jewelry' make it to the top. Surgery or no surgery. There are tons of studies on this going on in Europe. Infact you can even see x-rays on stallion shows and approvals and then track the horses results over time, this is easy to do with the KWPN for example.

                              Just remember that vets also run BUSINESSES and they do make quite good money selling x-rays and what many call "cosmetic surgery". Of course there are some OCD's (or OC's) which cause problems but many don't cause any problems.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by july View Post
                                Just remember that vets also run BUSINESSES and they do make quite good money selling x-rays and what many call "cosmetic surgery". Of course there are some OCD's (or OC's) which cause problems but many don't cause any problems.
                                That is exactly right. I recently spoke to a vet at a very good clinic and asked him what he thought of leaving small OCD's in the horses if they do not cause any clinical signs. He said absolutely not, you must take them all out, they will all cause trouble eventually etc etc. But when I told him about the horse I mentioned earlier that I know has an OCD in his pastern and is doing FEI levels and has never had any problems, he looked surprised and said "he eventually will". Time will tell I suppose, but I have a feeling the horse will be just fine.
                                I don't know, how many horses are never lame and never get x-rayed - how many of them might have something in there that never causes issues?
                                I think it all depends on how severe the OCD is and where in the joint it is located - and even then there is no way of knowing whether it will become clinical. I think OCD is a little bit like navicular was for a long time - just a buzz thing right now and eventually, like with navicular, people will realize that its more complex than just taking radiographs, and it all comes down to the horse being clinical or not.
                                But getting back to the original topic of horses who have had surgery - I think in most cases the horses have no issues and continue to compete/train. Stifles are more tricky than other joints, so in what I believe is around 20-25% of cases the horse is not 100% after the surgery. But in most cases they are just fine. I know of several horses who have had the surgery and are training as if nothing ever happened. I also own a horse who had the surgery for OCD in his stifle and he is totally fine.
                                Its a complex matter and I hope that they do more research about it.


                                • #17
                                  In my horses case the OCD was quiet for quite some time until another injury to a ligament - a very minor injury - diagnosed, treated successfully, completely healed and no evidence of it on ultrasound or xray - changed very, very slightly the dynamic of the joint - this was a tiny injury, barely detectable, almost impossible to see intermittent lameness...that was enough to cause the OCD to act up and bring about a career ending prognosis. They are, as the vet said, a potential time bomb. Sure. You might get lucky. Most likely you will not.

                                  If I had a choice, I would not try to go forward with a horse who could remain comfortable, happy and useful at a lower, lighter level of usage, but will far more likely to have trouble if more tested. I know this is not what people want to hear, but it is the reality of the situation. There is no getting around it. Sure you might get lucky. It is heartbreaking, incredibly expensive and a waste of how ever many years when the horse has to stop and you have to start over again. You have to start over with an untrained horse in most cases, as trained horses cost pretty much what the same as what it costs you to produce a trained horse over the years.

                                  I would estimate it costs about 15,000-20,000 dollars a year these days to compete and move a horse up - that's just board and lessons/training and some swag for shoeing and vet, and only 50 bucks a lesson, which few charge now. That's a conservative estimate. That means that you spend a lot of money to move a horse up, that's a year, and to move your first horse up to 4th level, 4 years minimum, and with lots of help, 6 years to move thru the fei levels - that's ten years, and over a hundred thousand dollars in basic costs. I would not want to do it and build up hopes of success, with a horse with too many problems. It's heartbreaking, and wallet breaking. Most people won't even get another chance, because it will put them so far down financially they won't be able to afford to get another appropriate candidate.

                                  The dream is that you have the wonderful experience of training your horse up the levels, and then many years to enjoy your work, and take pleasure in your own skill and the skill of your equine partner. It's better to choose the horse very wisely, if you want to succeed.


                                  • #18
                                    I have a horse that competed through 3rd level with hock and stifle jewelry with the former owner. I had them all removed, and now have a 4th level (soon to be PSG) horse who does not appear to be any different.

                                    I believe my horse will likely top out at PSG, but not due to the OCD, due to his rider (me) never having done past that, and the fact that his conformation was put together by committee.

                                    I'm not sure if this is what you consider "upper level" however.
                                    From now on, ponyfixer, i'll include foot note references.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Thanks for your response.. I think upper level meant doing piaffe/passage and canter piourette's(sp?) When the horse has to really sit and use the stifle and hocks.. I think any horse that gets to PSG is doing great and so is the rider!! Congrats!! Like I said in my post... I sure hope I can just make it that far so maybe I am worrying to much NO seriously.... OCD is so common anymore and diagnosis more common with good digital x-rays and arthroscopic surgery.. I really wonder how many horses who have "had" the surgery go on to perform at the top levels, I1, I2 and GP? I my self have never taken a horse to that level but would love to guess we all have goals and I am not getting any younger!!


                                      • #20
                                        Of course this is not dressage, but one study found that something like 1/3 of the SB youngsters under 2 years of age have had OCD surgery. The vast majority go on to a racing career.