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Which hock is the problem now?

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  • Which hock is the problem now?

    My horse has had hock problems for as long as I've owned him. He was 10 when I got him and he is 13 now. He didn't start jumping till I owned him, but he raced a couple of times on the quarter horse circuit in his younger days. Shortly after I first got him, he had lameness problems and x-rays revealed that he had mild to moderate arthritis in both hocks, but it was worse in his left hock. He gets his hocks injected once a year and has been pretty sound. Last December he crashed through a fence and had surgery to remove two bone chips and wood fragments that had abcessed from his left hock. He came back into work in early summer this year and we had his hocks injected in early August, but we couldn't get him to stand for one of the injections for his right hock (the one where they have to stand on the other side of the horse and inject on the inside of the hock- the distal intertarsal joint, I believe)- he bent two needles, so the vet decided not to try again.

    He was fine all fall, actually very full of himself, and jumping well, but he's slowed down a lot over the past few weeks (from him trying to take off to me having to push him to keep cantering). I rode him Sunday and didn't exactly feel off, but just very stiff and when he was cantering on his left lead he just didn't feel right so I got off to lunge him. I thought I possibly saw a very slight lameness with his left hind, but the barn manager didn't see anything. Tonight I was lunging him and he would not pick up his left lead (he normally lunges very well). I thought he might be tired but we switched directions and he picked up his right lead right away. We switched again and I still couldn't get him to pick up his left lead for more than a stride- it definitely looked like he was uncomfortable.

    So he's always had problems with his left hock, but if he won't pick up his left lead, wouldn't it be his right hock that's bothering him? Either way, he's getting started on a new joint supplement and getting some time off, but I'm still wondering what the problem is. If it's his right hock, maybe I do need to see about getting that joint injected.

  • #2
    Why are you jumping a horse with arthritis in the hocks and other "unknown" issues joint-wise?
    --Gwen <><
    "Treat others as you want to be treated and be the change you want to see in the world."


    • #3
      Op jumping her horse is no different than more than half of all performance horses out there showing regardless of discipline. In the real world a great percentage of those horses are getting joint injections or some type of treatment for arthritis or arthritic changes.

      Op....it is not uncommon for horses that only get one hock injected to become sore on the other hock....Ask me how I know????

      Most vets like to inject both hocks for this very reason. It would be a good idea to have both hocks injected if the vet agrees that yes....this is the issue.
      There are no stupid horses....just stupid people


      • #4
        Originally posted by supernatural View Post
        Op jumping her horse is no different than more than half of all performance horses out there showing regardless of discipline. In the real world a great percentage of those horses are getting joint injections or some type of treatment for arthritis or arthritic changes.

        Op....it is not uncommon for horses that only get one hock injected to become sore on the other hock....Ask me how I know????

        Most vets like to inject both hocks for this very reason. It would be a good idea to have both hocks injected if the vet agrees that yes....this is the issue.

        to all that
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


        • Original Poster

          Okay, some clarification. He has mild arthritic changes in his hocks- not uncommon for a big horse of his age, especially one that was raced in the past. After he was injected the first time, he was sound and I got the ok from the vet to jump, etc. As for other "unknown" issues, like I said, he had surgery on his left hock last year to remove two bone chips and treat an abscess caused by an injury. He recovered well and I again got the ok from the vet before jumping him. He has had many many x-rays, an ultrasound, etc. done on his hocks, so if there were other "unknown" issues, we should know about them.

          Also, we always get both hocks injected. Last time the vet injected both joints in his left hock but was only able to inject one joint in his right hock because he wouldn't stand even with the sedatives. They offered to come back and do the second joint in the right hock and waive the farm call fee, but my horse and I moved 800 miles away for school a couple of weeks later.

          So my original question was, his left hock has always been the problem, but do you think his right is the problem now?

          And new question. It's been about 4 months since he had his hocks done. If I were to get that joint in his right hock done, should I do just that joint or go ahead and get all 4 joints in both hocks done again?


          • #6
            A good lameness evaluation should be revealing where your horse is sore and help you understand how to best make him more comfortable. Good luck!


            • #7
              Time for a lameness exam. He might just need that joint in his right hock done, or it could be totally unrelated- like stifle or SI.


              • #8
                Originally posted by caballus View Post
                Why are you jumping a horse with arthritis in the hocks and other "unknown" issues joint-wise?
                You don't even know what type of jumping the OP is talking about. Many horses are used for jumping of all levels that have arthritis. The OP could be be talking about jumping 2'.


                • #9
                  I would strongly encourage a lameness exam. Typically, if your horse won't take the left lead easily, the right hock is the culprit - IF it's the hock. However, under flexion, horses can act the opposite of what you thought. Ask me how I know this.

                  I just took my horse in for flexions, Xrays. He has known arthritis in both hocks, but it had been a few years since we Xrayed. And before injecting again, I wanted a clear picture of what had changed to make sure we were doing the right thing for him.

                  His symptoms this time at the almost-6 month mark (for injections) were not wanting to take the left lead, and very stiff tracking left in general. He also leans to the inside heavily tracking left at the canter. Tracking right he was lovely, forward and happy.

                  Guess what? At the vet, on flexions, the LEFT hind was way worse! That's the one with the tiny bone spur (newly developed) He tracked left on the lunge better than on the right. He made me look like a liar, LOL. No seriously, the vet did say that when both hocks hurt, they can compensate either direction depending on the movement, how they feel that day, etc. - it's not as black and white as we think, a.e. "won't take left lead, it's the right hock..."

                  Bottom line, without the exam in general, I wouldn't have known about the spur. And I am now inclined to also check saddle fit and my position tracking left more. I do feel something else could be bothering him. I also know that he is close to fusing on the left, and that his coffin joints needed some injections too as they were under more pressure due to the hind end not being quite right.

                  So please get a vet out, do flexions. They can act quite differently when the leg is flexed first, and it gives a much truer picture. My horse flexed a 3 and a half to ALMOST 4 on the left. I would have never, ever guessed it was that bad. He gallops around the field with his buddies at top speed and is perfectly happy trotting over crossrails and doing light work, trail. But when flexed, it was a much different picture. Good luck!