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Stifle Injections at Age 6?

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  • Stifle Injections at Age 6?

    I know of someone who has a six year old horse that needs it's stifles injected. She blames the trainer she was working with for pushin the horse too hard.
    Let's day the horse had no health issues that would predispose the horse to having stifle problems how much work would cause a horse to need stifle injections by that age? Let's say it was started at a normal age (3 years old) and start jumping at age 4. How much/how high jumps and how strenuous or workouts would cause a healthy horse to have such stifle problems?

    On the other hand what problems may the horse have been born with/gotten as a baby that would predispose it to stifle problems? The horse did get a prepurchase, I don't know how exactly it went but the vet obviously must have felt the horse was going to have a high likely hood to do the job it was going to be asked or they would not have bought the horse. So if the horse did flex poorly on the hind end it was most likely very mild. Could the horse have had a pre-existing condition?

    Just out of curiosity. Thanks for reading.

  • #2
    By "injections" what do you mean? There is the typical injection for arthritis (generally a product like legend), or a blistering product to help tighten the stifle.

    Generally, young horses are injected in the stifles (actually, thats a lie - around, but not into the joint) to blister and cause a tightening effect. Often the sign is dropping a canter lead behind, not being able to track up properly, or drag out in the hind end. In most cases it is bilateral and its young horses that are just starting out into work. Usually, vets recommend this after hillwork and muscle building hasnt fixed the problem. It usually doesnt have to do with overworking them, they just have loose stifles. A LOT of horses get this done, and as its not actually a joint injection there are very few complications.

    Injections for arthritis are something different, and not as common in the stifle region, especially for younger horses. Arthritis can develop in that area due to an OCD or degenerative process. Usually, an OCD will cause lameness and be unilateral. OA can be either unilateral or bilateral.

    What are your horses actual symptoms? Who told you he needed to be injected?


    • Original Poster

      No this is not blistering. This is the same type of injection that is done in hocks and coffins for aged competition horses.
      I heard the trainer explaining the vet visit to the owner and the vet wants to inject. Not sure if it's one or both (didn't want to eavesdrop) but I BELIEVE they are doing both.
      About a year ago the horse started to refuse jumps, sometimes not even going near a jump. At first they thought it was just chestnut mare attitude. The coach could get her around so they thought she just had her riders number (riders first young horse) The mare didn't appear to show any lameness. She did have lead issues but mostly just not getting lead changes in flat work not really cross cantering. She would get flying changes on course while at jumping 'speed'. She changed trainers and after a few months they decided to try a vet check to see if it was something physical.


      • Original Poster

        This is NOT my horse. This is just for curiosities sake to see if the amount of work this horse got was enough to take a healthy horse to need ing joint injections by age 6 or if there might have been another pre-existing condition.
        I don't need any advise on what to do with the horse as it isn't mine.


        • #5
          Sometimes they are just predisposed to lameness problems from conformation or genetics, unfortunately. Did the horse improve from the injections?

          Did your friend do stifle x rays at the pre purchase? We injected my guy's stifles at 6 because x rays showed OCD. I did not do x rays when I bought him, but he had absolutely no lameness issues from the time I bought him to a year and half later when the OCD showed up. I have also had a bunch of pre purchases done where the horse flexes fine but x rays reveal potential issues. So if your friend did not do stifle x rays at the pre purchase, there is really no way to tell if there was an underlying condition (like OCD.)

          I don't think there is an answer to your question on how much/how high because it depends on the individual horse. If you look at some of the sales sites in Europe, a lot of those horses are doing significant jumping at 3 or 4 yet most turn out fine.


          • #6
            I know vets that just like to inject for anything. Horse seems a little stiff? Maybe something going on but you can't figure out what? INJECT and see what happens! It's like a hobby for them.
            On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog


            • #7
              What makes them want to do stifles? Most vets I have come in contact with want to do hocks first for changes/stiffness if they are injection happy. My experiences with stifles have all be genetic related and had nothing to do with work (usually loose stifles like another poster said). In my experience over work has resulted in some hock problems, but for the most part front end problems with horses "needing" coffin joint injections at early ages and stuff like that.


              • Original Poster

                THanks for the replies. So from the sounds of it most likely their isn't a semi reasonable amount of work that would cause such problems.
                I do not really know anymore about the horse's issues as like I said I am not the horse's owner and only heard that they were doing stifle injections when I walked by the trainer and owner talking. THe horse supposedly flexed poorly in it's stifles that's all I know.
                THe vets around here don't generally start injection till 8+ years old. I haven't seen a single horse that I know that has gotten any joint injection younger than 8. I haven't seen vets that I would say are injection happy however will suggestion them happily if the horse does seem sore in joints and has had a good competition career, so I would say that this is unusual for the vets around here for the most part.


                • #9
                  Well I dont think there is necessarily an "age" to inject... My friend injected her 3 year old filly. She is NOT riding sound, had her hock smashed up pretty bad which resulted in quite a few fragments. Although she did send the mare for an arthroscopy to remove the fragments, arthritis quickly set in and she was quite sore, even in pasture. The injections made a world of difference for her, she is completely sound - although never going to be used as a riding horse, she is very happy and comfortable in the field. She was bred this year (has lovely hunter bloodlines) and with joint maintenance to keep her comfortable she will hopefully makea lovely broodmare for many many years. In her case, inject at 3...but resulted in a very happy horse.


                  • Original Poster

                    Of course if an animal has some kind of catastrophic injury it may need extra veterinary care no matter what it's age. I was talking about a horse that had not suffered any accident or crash.