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SIGH! Jingles and hope requested--long

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  • SIGH! Jingles and hope requested--long

    Please, people, tell me that my world hasn't ended today.

    I have raised a young TB mare from 6 months. She's now 4 1/2, and in accord with my personal beliefs, she has just gone into training with a pro. Sh'es been there since the end or middle of November--I think. I love her very much. She has been worked on the longe and backed with a very light, very young rider. It's appeared from early on that she has a "hitch in her get along", so today we had an equine vet come out for an evaluation. Diagnosis is two bad stifles, worse on one side than the other, along with a terrible hoof trim from years of a natural hoof nazi who seems to have trimmed her hinds in a way that puts undue stress on the joints. She's not balanced--her inside is lower than her outside on the rear; and she has very low heels. We are using a different farrier now, and everyone who has seen her has commented on the lousy hoof trim angles. She doesn't extend or use her hind legs under her properly at the trot and canter at the moment, and her butt muscles are very sore from compensating.

    So today she got her stifles injected and a shot of polyglycan (sp). She is scheduled for monthly injections of the latter, possibly for the rest of her life, possibly only until her hooves grow out and get trimmed correctly, which could take six months or so.

    She was to be my event horse; she has the mind for it, is kind, and very willing with a great work ethic. She wants to please. Now I'm very worried that all she will be good for is light riding with nothing to stress the stifles. No dressage, no jumping, nothing. This isn't the result of injury; she's never been injured. It's either inborn or the result of bad farrier work for years that just expressed itself when she went into work.

    For those with experience, I could use some tales that give me hope that this is a temporary setback and not a permanent disability. The fact that she is only 4 1/2 (officially 5) and already needs joint injections and IVs has got me very depressed, as her usefulness is so limited at the moment and maintenance is looking extremely expensive over the rest of her and my lives. She's mine forever, and, with this, I can't even contemplate breeding her.

    We could both use jingles, and I could use hope, if there is any. Be blunt, be honest, and, please, tell me what you think.
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
    Thread killer Extraordinaire

  • #2
    What do you mean "bad" stifles? Did they do x-rays? I would get x-rays taken to find out if you are dealing with anything in the joint itself, ie ocd lesions, chips, or arthritis.

    If x-rays are clean then she probably just has weak stifles, which are quite common. In this case, you just have to get her fit and strong in her stifles....and keep her that way. Then she will probably be fine no matter what you want to do with her.

    Also ask your vet about Estrone shots.


    • #3
      They have a lot of new things that is actually helping reverse damage to joints. I would talk to the vet to see if there is anything they can do to help rebuild her stifles. (IRAP,shockwave, etc.)

      It takes a full year for a horse to regrow a whole hoof. As long as you are confident that your farrier has the know how to get her back in to balance, then it will just take time to see if she will stay sound.

      I am sorry! Good Luck. Talk to a few vets and see who is doing the most therapy work on these types of injuries.


      • #4
        Define bad stifles. Bone? Soft tissue? Were radiographs done? Diagnostic blocking?

        One of Star's bones going into the stifle joint has a slight flattening where it should be rounded. Didn't do radiographs on him when I bought him as a 2 y.o. Just about 4 years ago when he was coming 7 it became apparent that something was NQR and the stifle x-rays were done as part of the diagnosis. Stifles were injected with HA then and again about two years later. I have the vet out about every 6 months specifically to watch him and see if all seems OK. Meanwhile, he jumps, does decently hard flatwork...

        I truly don't know if the front-end issues he had were related to the stifle or not. It was the diagonal front leg. Could be unrelated, it could have started with the front or could have started with the hind. Hard to tell.
        The Evil Chem Prof


        • #5
          As others have said, I'm not sure what 'bad' stifles are in horse of her age.

          With better shoeing/trimming and a careful program of strengthening (does she live in pasture with hills?), your mare may do just fine.

          A good chiropractor/vet or osteopath/vet or acupuncturist/vet could also be very helpful -- both in terms of treatment and in giving you a different paradigm of what's going on with your horse. I've had 'hitch' horses improve dramatically with consistent chiro/acupuncture treatment.

          Good luck.


          • #6
            You need to find out what this vet meant with diagnosing as "bad stifles". The main thing you need to know is if there either is a genetic flaw (like the flat bone where it should have been round on Peggy's horse), or any type of calcification or scar tissue occuring. Those things can be a major problem or sometimes they can be fixed with surgery and you will never have another problem. Sometimes surgery can lead to arthritis later.

            It sound more like she has "loose stifles" which is not that uncommon in the completely unschooled or unconditioned young horse. It is not great, but it definatley can be corrected with hill work and conditioning.

            But, you need to find out if it is something else first or you may cause her more problems.


            • Original Poster

              The vet who saw her is a certified acupuncturist. This vet suggested giving her a couple of months and seeing how she does with the injections and more work while she is more comfortable before doing radiographs. That is definitely in the schedule before we try and doing anything but just getting her under saddle and going right, left, forward and stop. I'm told that getting really good stifle pictures is difficult because of the location and angles of the joint. However, I could schedule the xrays sooner than originally suggested.

              I suppose this is one reason the cavalry said to spend the first year under saddle just doing conditioning.

              Thanks for the hope. Y'all have made me feel much better this morning.
              "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
              Thread killer Extraordinaire


              • #8

                I would get the radiographs now, if only just to put your mind at ease.

                Good luck!


                • #9
                  I would get the X-rays ASAP so you know exactly what is going on; it could save you a lot of worry and stress.


                  • #10
                    A super chiropractor came here a few days ago and she's collaborating with my vet for some problems I have going on here. The first things she looks at when she meets a horse are their feet and if they don't meet her expectations the blacksmith is added to the team effort. She's excellent and travels from Western NY to FL to treat horses.

                    Please PM me if you'd like to contact her. I've only met a few people with an eye as good as her's and no one with as much understanding of the biomechanics of horses. She started her career managing a KY thoroughbred breeding operation. After watching a chiropractor work on sales weanlings she decided to turn down a coveted spot in vet school and focus on chiropractory instead.

                    She usually requires a vet reference, but maybe if you contact her you can set something up through your vet.

                    And by the way, she has a very special place in her heart for thoroughbreds.

                    I'm so sorry to hear this has happened to your mare.
                    Last edited by SEPowell; Jan. 15, 2010, 11:07 AM.


                    • #11
                      Oh, Vineyridge, I'm so sorry! But all is not lost yet. FWIW every one of my TB mares have had stifle issues at around the same age. I don't know if it's because their hearts make them push on when other horses would back off or what.

                      It's wonderful that you have a vet who is into alternative therapies and is approaching your mare's treatment conservatively, although I suppose a series of injections would be considered a little invasive. Is the thought to lessen the inflammation first? You may have said and I missed it: is there any thought of corrective shoeing, not just trimming until the feet grow out?

                      But if you are going to lose sleep over the mare's future, get thee to a vet clinic or vet school for a workup ASAP. Find out what it isn't, and then begin treatment for what it is. Stifle diagnoses can be tricky and frustrating, but since the mare means so much to you, it may be wise to spend the time and money for the best workup you can get and have an answer.

                      Otherwise there's the old remedy of turning her out in a hilly pasture for a few months and then seeing what you've got.

                      In any event, please don't despair. Many jingles are coming your way.
                      They don't call me frugal for nothing.
                      Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


                      • #12
                        I am not able to provide any feedback on her diagnosis or 'injury' but just want to send some jingles your way


                        • #13
                          I actually think you did this horse a disservice waiting until 4 1/2 to start her. Weak stifles are generally caused by the muscles in and around the stifle and hind leg not being strong enough, a horse "at rest" particularly a youngster is not likely to build up the muscles to support the stifles adequately, particularly is they have rather straight nid leg conformation. The BEST thing for a horse with this condition is to first BLISTER the stifles, to encourage the stifle area to "tighten up": and then put them in regular, but not strenuous work. Lots of long trotting, trotting up hills, trotting ground poles, but not so ,much in the way of circles at this point. all of this will help the horses supporting muscle structure to get stronger. This is the path I would take (and have taken on many horses like this).


                          • #14
                            Whoa ... before you go blistering your horse, ...

                            I agree with frugalannie that the injections were invasive to begin with, but you have already done that.

                            1st, what is you horse's living situation? Is she out on turnout? How many hours per day TO? Is she in a pasture or a paddock and is there any slope to it?

                            In other words how unconditioned is she?

                            I do agree with the cavalry method 100%.


                            • #15
                              The cavalry also spent well over 50-75% of young horse conditioning at the WALK (with the rider).

                              Walk up the hill, walk down the hill, walk up the ....


                              • #16
                                So sorry Viney for what you're going through. I will be the voice of optimism here.

                                Had an experience not entirely different. Long story short, his feet ended up with high laterals, low medials, low palmar angles, and a breakover point twice what it should have been. Don't want to dis the farrier, he does have very small feet and I believe that the farriers intentions were good. However . . .

                                The first sign of trouble were the stifles. Got injections, did adequan, etc. No improvement. Saw the equine podiatrist who, after taking new films, adjusted all the angles and put him in natural balance shoes for 6 months while he adjusted.

                                Guess what? He went back to light work and after only a few months of conditioning his stifles are a ZERO-ISSUE.

                                The old adage is true: No hoof. No horse.

                                Jingles to you and good luck. Keep us posted!
                                Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

                                The Grove at Five Points


                                • #17
                                  Posted by ACMEeventing:

                                  So sorry Viney for what you're going through. I will be the voice of optimism here.

                                  Had an experience not entirely different. Long story short, his feet ended up with high laterals, low medials, low palmar angles, and a breakover point twice what it should have been. Don't want to dis the farrier, he does have very small feet and I believe that the farriers intentions were good. However . . .

                                  The first sign of trouble were the stifles. Got injections, did adequan, etc. No improvement. Saw the equine podiatrist who, after taking new films, adjusted all the angles and put him in natural balance shoes for 6 months while he adjusted.

                                  Guess what? He went back to light work and after only a few months of conditioning his stifles are a ZERO-ISSUE.

                                  The old adage is true: No hoof. No horse.

                                  Jingles to you and good luck. Keep us posted!


                                  • #18
                                    Don't give up yet. Like the others, I don't know what 'bad stifles' are either. Many vets haven't woken up to the fact that NON-draft horses can suffer from EPSM-maybe your vet is one of these. Not using her hind end correctly can be a given with a 4 year old TB BUT, sore rump muscles and abnormal hind end gait can also be EPSM symptoms. I urge you to just have a look at www.ruralheritage.com-go to the 'vet clinic' page and you can read for days!
                                    Also, I'd be looking into the kind of work your trainer has been doing. Hours on a lunge line are never good for a baby, etc.
                                    Best of luck.
                                    Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


                                    • #19
                                      Nothing to add, except that walking raised cavaletti and trotting straight lines, in addition to hills, are good for strengthening stifles.

                                      And jingles from TN!
                                      Taco Blog
                                      *T3DE 2010 Pact*


                                      • #20
                                        Don't panic!

                                        Get a second opinion.

                                        You say you will have her forever so do yourself and her a giant favor - Take your horse to the best sports medicine vet you can find. Get an evaluation, get x-rays, get the joints ultra-sounded. If nothing else this will be an excellent baseline to have while you are fixing her feet.

                                        Until then you don't know what you are dealing with - it's a guessing game even for experienced vets.

                                        You need to see if there is something in the joint - chip, ocd. You need to see if there are bony changes occurring in the joint - arthritis. You need to see if there is a soft tissue injury. Until you know what you are dealing with exactly the treatment and prognosis will always be a shot in the dark. Sure the feet are a big contributor to the problem but you need to assess the current state of the damage.

                                        Good Luck!!!