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Stifle locking after standing still?

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  • Stifle locking after standing still?

    I have some questions and was wondering whether anyone else here has experienced something similar with their horse. I'll try to explain the situation as best I can ... Sorry if it gets a little long!

    I have an 8 year old Appendix gelding whom I have noticed, on occasion, experiences locking of the stifle. However, I have NEVER seen or felt him do it while moving forward ... It only seems to occur after he has been standing still for several minutes, such as in the cross ties or wash stall. Usually it occur when you ask him to pick up a hind leg to pick out the hoof or check the shoe ... His stifle locks, then releases suddenly causing him to jerk his leg upward with an audible "pop". It seems to happen more frequently with his left hind than the right, although I have also noticed it on the right hind on rare occasions.

    It also sometimes happens when you ask him to back up, but once again it always seems to be after he has been standing still for a period of time, and usually after having his feet picked up. However, when it occurs he is able to step forward normally, although if you ask him to step back again it frequently recurs. I have never noticed it while backing him under saddle, though.

    I have never felt him lock or catch while riding ... As I said it is always when he has been standing, and usually after he has had to stand on 3 legs while having his feet handled. He is turned out every day, in a large pasture on a hillside, and is currently in moderate work, although he is getting more arena riding and less hill work this time of year due to the weather.

    Has anyone else experienced anything like this? Is it something that is likely to affect his soundness and safety, or is it something that really isn't much of a concern since it doesn't seem to affect him as long as he's moving forward? He has spent most of his life up to this point being ridden Western but I am hoping to use him for lower level eventing.

    And yes, I already plan to discuss it with my vet
    Last edited by Sticky Situation; Jan. 10, 2013, 05:40 PM. Reason: Clarification

  • #2
    My B/O's mare had the same issue...vet DX'd as upper fixation of patella...He recommended more uphill work and anything else to build muscle

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    • #3
      I had a similar situation with my previous horse. He would stand in the cross ties with his leg "cocked", resting on the toe and not be able to put it down. Long story short, vet blistered his stifle and I made sure to increase hill work. It really wasn't much of a problem after that.

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      • #4
        Mine used to do that quite frequently. What fixed him was squaring his toes. I've seen him do it a couple of times after a night in his stall after that, but he is about 99% better.

        Comment


        • #5
          That presentation is probably the most common presentation of UFP issues

          Make sure his toes are short, heels are not underrun, get him more fit, turn him out as many hours as possible.

          But, if he's straight in his hind leg conformation, he may always be predisposed to it. If it is only ever after he's been standing, then I wouldn't worry about it.

          when you find he's locked, try backing him up first, or massage his flank area a bit. There are muscles there responsible for hooking and unhooking the ligament, and sometimes, massaging the area can get it unlocked before you move him and that's the best scenario.
          ______________________________
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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          • #6
            Another vote for UFP.

            A friends horse does this as well, and that was the diagnosis.
            He is 99.9% better with turnout - as soon as she stalls him, he locks up.
            "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."

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            • #7
              My boy does this, and I actually didn't know for the first several months I owned him. Brought him home in the summer, he was turned out 24/7 in in light work - no problems. Winter came, he started getting stalled at night, I wasn't working him so much, and then he'd start coming out in the morning dragging a hind leg. We've got a PT routine when he's bad or if he has to be stalled, but for the most part turnout is enough to keep him unlocked, and the more he's worked the better he gets!

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thanks for the input. This is the first time I have ever had a horse with stifle issues, although I understand that locking stifles/UFP isn't all that uncommon. Most of what I have read about it seems to describe either an occasional funny step with a hind leg in mild cases, up to dragging the leg in more severe cases, but usually it was described in a horse that was moving forward at the time. In my horse, I have noticed in ONLY after standing, and never while stepping forward, even on his first few steps after standing still.

                Anyway, sounds like he has a lot of hill work in his future!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sticky Situation View Post
                  Thanks for the input. This is the first time I have ever had a horse with stifle issues, although I understand that locking stifles/UFP isn't all that uncommon. Most of what I have read about it seems to describe either an occasional funny step with a hind leg in mild cases, up to dragging the leg in more severe cases, but usually it was described in a horse that was moving forward at the time. In my horse, I have noticed in ONLY after standing, and never while stepping forward, even on his first few steps after standing still.

                  Anyway, sounds like he has a lot of hill work in his future!
                  Turnout is great as well. My friends horse literally overnight will start having locking troubles if he is stalled or even confined to a small paddock. He is bad enough that he drags his leg, it doesn't really bend, its like a peg leg just attached to a horse. When this happens, the vet instructed her to back him up quickly, very quickly, to help put the patella back into place. He was locked like that for a few days before she was able to get the vet out (and she had no idea what was going on at the time, never seen this issue) and the longer he stayed "stuck" the more stiff/sore he was after resuming normal use.

                  I had him pasture boarded in a very large pasture with my mare one summer, and he had not one incident of locking up. She moved him home in September to his small paddock, and the very next day, he was so stiff and hitchy.
                  "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by SuckerForHorses View Post
                    Turnout is great as well. My friends horse literally overnight will start having locking troubles if he is stalled or even confined to a small paddock. He is bad enough that he drags his leg, it doesn't really bend, its like a peg leg just attached to a horse. When this happens, the vet instructed her to back him up quickly, very quickly, to help put the patella back into place. He was locked like that for a few days before she was able to get the vet out (and she had no idea what was going on at the time, never seen this issue) and the longer he stayed "stuck" the more stiff/sore he was after resuming normal use.

                    I had him pasture boarded in a very large pasture with my mare one summer, and he had not one incident of locking up. She moved him home in September to his small paddock, and the very next day, he was so stiff and hitchy.
                    My guy already gets a lot of turnout ... He is out in a big, hilly field all day in the winter and all night in the summer, and his stall has an attached small paddock that he can go in and out of as he pleases. However, he has been stalled some in the past, and it didn't seem to really make it worse in his case.

                    He is also sort of "opposite" your friends horse ... He only locks if you ask him to either lift his foot straight up or step backwards, and he unlocks as soon as you step him forward, although it sometimes will happen again if you ask him to back up again. Your friends horse sounds more like the "typical" cases I have read about, in which backing up helps the patella to release instead of causing it to lock up. I'm not sure what causes the different presentation ...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Interesting! Sounds like his turnout situation will at least promote some "hill work" for you!

                      Curious...is his conformation of his hind legs quite straight?
                      "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        I wish I had good conformation photo of him to share, but unfortunately I don't. He's not especially straight behind, but he definitely is built somewhat downhill or "butt high". He also tends to be leaner muscled through his flank and stifle area.

                        I'm hoping the hill work will help, although fortunately it seems to be a pretty isolated problem in his case, that only happens under certain circumstances. If nothing else, at least I'll have a fitter horse!

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