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Locking stifle

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  • Locking stifle

    I have just bought a lovely new horse - I got her on Tuesday and have her on trial for a week.

    All was going well, but today when I had her on the cross ties, I asked her to move her butt over and her left hind had locked and she dragged it instead of lifting it. It was locked for about a minute (whilst I panicked like crazy!) then it popped back into place. A few minutes later the same thing happened. We walked her around and she seemed fine, a little sore on it, but OK.

    I called my vet who advised turn her out and give her bute and he will come and do some xrays tomorrow. I rung her owner who said this had never happened before and she had never even taken a lame step. So it's very bizarre.

    She is a 5 year old, and I know this is more common in young horses, but was being worked 5 times a week end July/early Aug, a mixture of schooling, jumping (inc. a few h/j shows), hacking, lungeing. Then late Aug/early Sept she was only in work 2x a week. And the week before I got her she wasn't worked. (I had thought she was in work 5x a week.)

    She is turned out in the day and at night is in a stall with a 30ft run out attached to it, so it's not like she is shut up in her stall all night. Where she came from she was out during the night and in during the day. She is also out at grass now which she has been gradually introduced to, whereas before she wasn't.

    Her feed has changed slightly and has been gradually switched over to a different feed. Her old feed was 14% protein, 7% fat, 15% fibre. Her new feed is 11% protein, 6% fat, 8% fibre.

    Sorry for the long post - but does anyone have any ideas what could be causing this? Or any experience of locking stifles.

    I really like the horse, but obviously don't want to buy a horse with a potential problem.
    Last edited by Hellypoo; Sep. 21, 2008, 11:30 PM.

  • #2
    It's not a otential problem. locking stifles are a problem


    • #3
      Locking stifles or "sticky" stifles or Upper Fixation of the Patella can be common in young, fast growing, large horses. My gelding had this problem briefly after schooling 20m circles and some fairly intensive longe sessions. He responded beautifully to rest, bute, and chiropractic. Your vet can tell you whether the problem is likely to be chronic or temporary. Read up on the literature and you'll find tons of stuff. It isn't necessarily a forever problem--we've never had another incident. My vet had recommended serious hill work and avoiding circles until the hind end got strengthened. Good luck


      • #4
        I really hate to sound negative, but... I would not purchase a horse with confirmed stifle issues. From personal experience, I will never go there, again. At least if I can help it. There are treatments out there that may or may not be successful (depends on the case). Also, hill work, etc. that may help some. It is just very risky. I know you do not want to buy horse that is going to be lame. My horse would only lock up for a couple of seconds max but long enough to get eliminated from dressage. It was just very stressful for me. You put so much in to them and try to do the right things and still never know from minute to minute when they may lock up. If just a trail/pleasure horse then no sweat, but if you are looking for a competitive partner please thoroughly research this and evaluate your pocketbook! Good luck to you.


        • #5
          A sticky Patella is very manageable with exercise and possibly chiropractic adjustments.My horses patella was sticky and then I had him adjusted and that took care of that problem.

          it all depends on why the stifles are locking.


          • #6
            I too would steer clear. Internal blisters, uphill.. etc you'll find another


            • #7
              my Dutch Warmblood mare that I owned since she was one month old, developed the upward fixation of the patella last year. She had a bone scan and her stifles were fine. She needed strengthening exerciese, hill work and long turnouts. So far, she had not had a recurrence. She is currently schooling third level dressage.
              If you had not yet bought the horse, then maybe needs to pause and think about it. If the horse is otherwise what you look for, this should not be the deal breaker.


              • #8
                I bought a young Hanoverian mare a few years ago, she was four. She did turn out to have a stifle locking problem big time. It was really a shame as I had to sell her for a fraction of what I paid for her. I did the blisters etc. and nothing seemed to help. She would lock her stifle several times within a very short period on a circle, and it seemed to hurt her.

                Anyways, I would not recommend buying a young horse with a stifle locking problem.

                I do know own a schoolmaster whose stifle locks when he first warms up, but not very often, thankfully. Fitness and hill work really help him. But he is 14 and is solid 3rd level and a super jumper, so this problem did not prevent him along the way. It apparently was nothing compared to the mare's problem. Be careful....


                • #9
                  I have known many young horses with this issue and as they grow and get fit it tends to go away. Alot of times it is due to overwork with a young horse stretching and straining the ligaments that hold the patella in place. Avoid circle work when having this issue and do lots of walking/trotting up hills and trotting over cavelletti. I have also had two that did not get better and we did the stifle surgery on them. Both went on to live long, sound lives one was an eventer the other a hunter and then later in life a school horse. Probably wouldn't deter me from buying a young horse if mild and intermittent.


                  • #10
                    A friend fought the problem for several years with her Friesian. A Medial Patellar Desmotomy fixed it.
                    The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
                    Winston Churchill


                    • #11
                      This can be managed with consistent excercise and turnout. Being overweight can also exacerbate the problem I have a pony gelding who had the problem when he was younger. He's over it now (he's nearing 30 years of age). However, I think it is good grounds to pass the horse up, or get a greatly reduced price, if you're really in love with her. The vet will be able to tell advise you better.
                      My Equestrian Art Photography page


                      • #12
                        I bought a horse with an intermittent locking stifle. He passed the PPE with flying colors except for this issue, x-rayed clean, and was a young OTTB. PPE vet thought he'd "grow out" of it with fitness and time.

                        He did improve, GREATLY, with carefeul hillwork-- but anytime he had a few days off (threw a shoe, bad weather, got sick) the problem was back again. It was a PITA and he was never quite right. I tried everything, all kinds of fitness, esterone, internal blistering-- you name it. Nothing really made it go away.

                        Ultimately this was something I managed but not something I would ever buy again. Stifles are a giant pain when they're not right. Give me hocks ANYDAY over stifles. I'd pass. If it was my own horse and I bred it, I'd deal with it-- but I would NOT buy stifle locking. No thanks.
                        "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                        • #13
                          I have a horse with this as well; as VXF111 said, it's a major PITA. He's fine when he's in regular work, but if he has a few days off he's wonky again. He also had it for long enough (he was a rescue) that he has some lingering leg lifting issues that seem to be psychosomatic. He's doing really well right now, but he was just blistered a month ago and has been in regular (every freakin' day) ever since, PLUS he's on selenium and enough joint supplement to buy a house.

                          If you have the time and the money, and already had the horse, it's not too bad. But would I BUY one with this issue? Heck no! He's been good for me, because I tend towards laziness (it's too hot, I'm too tired to ride) but with him, I've got to get on no matter how crappy I feel, but it's a pain.


                          • #14
                            I'm so glad to have found these posts; the information all of you have provided is wonderful (really sad sometimes, but really helpful, too). I actually just did a very long post this morning under the thread "intermittent upward patellar fixation" about some problems that I'm having with a four year old TB/QH gelding that I just purchased. Someone kindly posted to tell me to check out the "locking stifle" thread. If any of you that have experience with locking stifles would be willing to read my earlier post and give me any insight that you can, I would appreciate it so much... I'm really struggling trying to understand this problem (if this is even what my horse has?), and what future prognosis may be...
                            Thank you!!!


                            • #15
                              I have a 4 year old pony whose left stifle locks briefly when kept stalled overnight. If left out 24X7, never a problem....


                              • #16
                                My gelding has locking stifles. Worse on right but can be a problem on the left. As long as he stays in regular work it doesn't happen. I do hillwork at least twice a week and I try to ride six days a week. I turn him out as much as possible. If you are really having a problem with it, putting eggbars on the hinds can really help as well. The only time I ever have trouble with it now is when we go from shoes to barefoot for the winter in the hind feet. He locks up for a few days as he gets used to the new movement. Then he's fine for the rest of the winter. I think that if a horse was sound otherwise I would definitely buy the horse even with this problem. They all have something that is or will be a problem. I would take locking stifles over A LOT of other problems.