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Dropped fetlock

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  • Dropped fetlock

    I recently did a PPE on a mare I'm looking at as a 3' hunter. She's 14 years old and requires injections in her left hock/Adequan as maintenance, which I am OK with. However, in the PPE, vet identified a slightly dropped fetlock on her right hind (opposite leg from the hock with issues). I have some concerns about this from what I've heard about dropped fetlocks, but I wanted to run it past COTH to see if I'm off base at all, partly because I've heard mixed things from different parties. Can anyone confirm/deny the validity of the following?

    - Trainer says dropped fetlock isn't a big problem, because if the mare is 14 and still sound on that leg, it isn't going to cause problems in the future. He says it's a confirmational thing and that a dropped fetlock is something a horse is born with. T/F?

    - From doing some research, I read that sometimes horses can develop fetlock drop as a compensation for an injury on the opposing leg (in this case, arthritis in the left hock --> fetlock drop on the right), so if you fix the injury on the opposing leg (injections/maintenance in left hock), the dropped fetlock will also improve. T/F?

    From what I've read/heard, I'm inclined to disagree with trainer that "if she's fine on it now, she's likely to stay fine on it later." Is there any way to further investigate this? Would X-rays or something similar be able to tell what kind of issues I might encounter with the suspensory, etc. from this in the future?

  • #2
    Check out this site: http://www.angelfire.com/bc/curlygait/diagnose.html

    Lots of info on DSLD-related dropped fetlocks. May be a different issue if it's caused by an injury.

    Your research on compensating for an injury on an opposite leg makes sense. My horse has the opposite problem: his pasterns are upright, so we're doing Pentosan now. After first three shots, no improvement on angles yet.

    Interested to hear what others think.

    Comment


    • #3
      After losing one of my mares to DSLD I wouldn't even think to purchase another horse with a dropped fetlock or one that is shown as 'coon footed'. DSLD is heartbreaking.
      --Gwen <><
      "Treat others as you want to be treated and be the change you want to see in the world."
      http://www.thepenzancehorse.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Isn't there a difference between a horse with fetlocks that are a bit low and DSLD? Does a small drop always develop into DSLD?

        I'm really curious to see what folks say here. I have a 15 year old OTTB with hind fetlocks that are slightly dropped. I worry about it quite a bit. I have shod him with hind shoes with trailers which is supposed to help. I will also start using SMBoots to support the fetlock in the back. I don't know if I will do the hind shoes this summer as he's in a pasture with other horses and I'm afraid he might hurt one of them.
        "The captive bolt is not a proper tool for slaughter of equids they regain consciousness 30 seconds after being struck fully aware they are being vivisected." Dr Friedlander DVM & frmr Chief USDA Insp

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        • #5
          Originally posted by caballus View Post
          After losing one of my mares to DSLD I wouldn't even think to purchase another horse with a dropped fetlock or one that is shown as 'coon footed'. DSLD is heartbreaking.
          It is, but not every dropped fetlock, particularly when it is only one fetlock, is DSLD.

          I would be concerned about potential for DSLD or as it is now called ESPA, if BOTH fetlocks were dropped and would then get ultrasounds if I really wanted this horse.

          but I would not pull out my DSLD hammer just cause I think I see a nail- ie the horse has one dropped fetlock and perhaps no other 'symptoms' of DSLD.

          OP did you ask the seller about what rads or other diagnostics they have done on the hock? I would want to see those and maybe new ones, and also look further into that fetlock.
          Could be nothing, but the only way to know is for a Vet to check it out.
          Yo/Yousolong April 23rd, 1985- April 15th, 2014

          http://notesfromadogwalker.com/2012/...m-a-sanctuary/

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by ptownevt View Post
            Isn't there a difference between a horse with fetlocks that are a bit low and DSLD? Does a small drop always develop into DSLD?

            I'm really curious to see what folks say here. I have a 15 year old OTTB with hind fetlocks that are slightly dropped. I worry about it quite a bit. I have shod him with hind shoes with trailers which is supposed to help. I will also start using SMBoots to support the fetlock in the back. I don't know if I will do the hind shoes this summer as he's in a pasture with other horses and I'm afraid he might hurt one of them.
            Yes, DSLD/ESPA is truly diagnosed when you see swiss cheese tendons in the legs due to the proteoglycan accumulation [ESPA stands for Equine Suspensory Proteoglycan Accumulation]. There are other symptoms of DSLD/ESPA beyond dropped fetlocks [ BOTH fetlocks being dropped not just one, coon-footedness, swelling, shifting weight, discomfort, etc]
            No a small drop does not always develop into DSLD. And yes I think there is a difference between horses with low fetlocks and one with DSLD, Fetlocks can get low for a variety of reasons. - that proteoglycan is truly the definition of DSLD.

            My horse had fetlocks that articulated low the entire time I had him [since he was 6 and just off the track]. He was fine until he turned 23 and was suffering several months with undiagnosed ulcers... it was then that his fetlocks dropped.
            It is my opinion that perhaps the DSLD/ESPA thing is latent, ie it's there, waiting for an opportunity and in my horses case the stress of ... well stress... and then the ulcers and all that he went through made it possible for that DSLD to express.
            Obviously there is no scientific proof of that, but there is very little scientific proof of ANYTHING with DSLD/ESPA.

            My horse gets shod with shoes with a lift pad and these, and a change to an IR diet and lots of turnout and retirement, have helped him enjoy the last 4 years.
            Yo/Yousolong April 23rd, 1985- April 15th, 2014

            http://notesfromadogwalker.com/2012/...m-a-sanctuary/

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            • #7
              I would want to ultrasound that leg to see what the condition of the tendons/ligaments was before proceeding, but I would not assume the worst.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Angela Freda View Post
                OP did you ask the seller about what rads or other diagnostics they have done on the hock? I would want to see those and maybe new ones, and also look further into that fetlock.
                Could be nothing, but the only way to know is for a Vet to check it out.
                The seller has been extremely unhelpful with any sort of history about this horse. He is the "horse dealer" type, and I think he knows/cares little about her vet records, etc., which is why I'm trying to be extremely thorough before writing a check. Especially after all the feedback here, it seems an ultrasound is in order to be sure.

                Comment


                • #9
                  My 29 year old mare has what we suspect to be some kind of a blown suspensory or something in her LH. Her pastern is almost horizontal to the ground. It's ugly to look at, but she doesn't seem bothered by it and is sound on it. I don't know when it happened, it was that way before I ever knew her and I know she actually jumped with it that way for awhile. She did develop some flares in her hind feet for a time that I suspect were due to her funky leg position, but that's about the extent of the issues she's had because of it (she has arthritis and some other stuff unrelated to legs). I've known her for 10 years now.

                  Not saying you should or shouldn't do anything based on my story, but I just wanted give an example of a horse that was okay despite a fetlock abnormality and to say that it could potentially be a non-issue -- it depends on all the other circumstances that people brought up.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Just remember, dropped fetlocks can change all the angles in the hind leg and can put added stress on tendons and ligaments.

                    After what I went through with my last horse, I would pass on any horse that had even one dropped fetlock, for whatever reason.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I bought a horse for a client that was like this. He was maybe 10 or so and sound. He stayed sound for awhile. But, then he would strain one leg, take the weight off of it, so put more stress on another, and it was a house of cards from then on. All four fetlocks almost touched the ground after awhile.

                      It may stay just fine. But, it is a weakness, and if something gets stressed, it makes it more likely it will set everything off.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I own a DSLD horse and would be VERY wary of taking on any horse I hoped to ride that already had a dropped hind fetlock.

                        If you are serious about pursuing this horse, get a vet to ultrasound both hind legs and look at the condition of the suspensory ligament and its branches, especially.

                        Personally, I would not buy this horse!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          My 14 yo trail horse (in my sig) has a slight-medium dropped sesamoid / fetlock on his LH. I bought him without a vet check (last time I'll ever do that!) and while he was sound, he likely had an old injury to the suspensory on that leg. He stayed sound for 9 months of re-conditioning and beginner reining (he'd had several years of training when younger), and then tore the suspensory, causing the fetlock/sesamoid drop, on the 4th of July last year - combination of bad hoof angles (I've got a new farrier and his angles are now awesome) and firework caused freakout.

                          He's recovered well and the suspensory branches are enlarged but clean on ultrasound. He's sound at w/t/c but my vet has advised me that I'm taking a big risk to use him for reining or other strenuous sport. Hence he's now my semi-retired trail horse. If I could find him a w/t trail home I'd happily lease him out since he really does love to work and I've got limited time to trail ride.

                          Soooo, really long way of saying that before I made any decision I'd want x-rays and ultrasound of the fetlock. Depending on what was seen, I'd pass if I was looking for a horse to hold up to showing and jumping. Just not worth the heartbreak.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            dropped fetlock may mean history of suspensory injury

                            my mare's dropped fetlocks are due to chronic desmitis related to prior (repeat) suspensory injuries. not DSLD or ESPA, but nonetheless the suspensory mechanism was compromised and made her more prone to subsequent injuries, which eventually forced her early semi-retirement at 18 years old (we used to do some distance riding before, now we just take little hacks at a walk).

                            so keep that in mind and definitely get an u/s of the suspensory mechanism. a good vet can tell you a lot about the history of past injuries by looking at the u/s.
                            http://www.eponashoe.com/
                            TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by marta View Post
                              my mare's dropped fetlocks are due to chronic desmitis related to prior (repeat) suspensory injuries. not DSLD or ESPA, but nonetheless the suspensory mechanism was compromised and made her more prone to subsequent injuries, which eventually forced her early semi-retirement at 18 years old (we used to do some distance riding before, now we just take little hacks at a walk).

                              so keep that in mind and definitely get an u/s of the suspensory mechanism. a good vet can tell you a lot about the history of past injuries by looking at the u/s.
                              We've got one good old guy just exactly like this, too--probably compounded by being built downhill and toeing out. But he's past 20 now, seems happy and playful and steps out very forward on his little walking trail rides. I give him 1 gram of Bute every other day on general principles.

                              Comment

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