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Injecting Upper Hock Joints

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  • Injecting Upper Hock Joints

    Vet was out yesterday and we did injections in the top two joints of the right hock.

    I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with a horse with arthritis in the Upper hock joints? I can't find much on google about upper hocks except that this is career ending.
    Vet didn't say anything about that, he kind of gave me a non answer when I asked about prognosis.
    I know that each case is different and "it depends", but I'm wondering what to expect, am I going to get a few probably uncomfortably years out of my girl, before retiring her at 7, or worse.
    Thanks for any input, just feeling really sad about my baby

    I am going to get my vet to do hock injections on my 4y/o mare.
    I was looking for anyone else who has had a young horse with arthritis to share their experience.

    I have had my mare about a year and a half, and she will be 5 in may. She was green broke when I got her.
    In the last year I started noticing hind end issues, started as kicking out or switching leads behind at canter, some bucking, and more recently reluctance to move forward in the trot and quite obvious lameness stepping short with the right hind.
    A couple months ago we had X-rays done which showed significant arthritic changes in the right hock and some minor changes in the left. Vet said degenerative joint disease. Vet immediately wanted to do the injections but I wanted to think about it and explore other options.
    We did a week of bute with a little improvement, and then did the loading dose of adequan. I saw some improvement but she was still uncomfortable, now 4 weeks after the adequan she is quite lame and in obvious discomfort at anymore than a walk.
    I think the arthritis is just too severe for adequan to have any impact.
    So I think it's time for injections
    Anyone else ever been through this with a youngen?
    Last edited by Danier; Feb. 8, 2013, 10:36 PM. Reason: Update

  • #2
    My mare is not that young, but we had a similar situation last spring. Started out as sporadic "just didn't feel right" and then was lame behind. Hers was a stifle issue; my vet recommended immediate steroid/HA injection, stall rest/lots of hand walking for a month after which she was sound. Back to work, rehabbing much like a soft tissue injury. Then @ 4 months from orig. injections, we did IRAP as he is more comfortable with that long term - said to figure a year w/ regular work and then repeat, so we stay ahead of the problem. Meanwhile, so far, so good. Dont know what your budget is or plans for the mare, but worth thinking about...
    We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


    • #3
      Been there! My now 8 year old horse was X-rayed at 5 and we found that his hocks were already 50% fused. He was not started too early and was doing Training Level dressage. Like you I hesitated with joint injections....not wanting to invade the joint unnecessarily. I opted for the noninvasive route ..Surpass, Adequan etc. he eventually developed back pain and edema over his back and then I knew it was time. He has been injected twice over the last 3 years and is doing great having moved up to Second level. One hock is closer to fusing now, which means its harder to get any medicine in the joint space. As a preventative I do keep him on the Adequan loading dose twice a year. My concern is protecting his other joints in particular the upper hock joint, not for any pain/stiffness relief.


      • #4
        I think they refer to this as juvenile arthritis. If you haven't already done this and can afford it, get some xrays of her stifles as well. She may have something going on there too that needs some help. I feel badly for you.


        • #5
          My gelding was diagnosed with hock arthritis the spring of his three year old year. He's a homebred I know he wasn't pushed too early or anything like that. While breaking him out he just seemed like there was a lot of "just not quite right" that went a little beyond the typical uncoordination of a youngster. We did take stifle x-rays as well and they were clean, although the vet said they were a little "flat" but that it could just be how he's built and not anything wrong. He was maintained for a few years with a feed-through joint supplement, occasional Adequan before a big show and my shoer was very diligent about keeping him balanced (he moves completely differently in the hind end when he has shoes on vs. barefoot). He was injected for the first time the fall of his seven year old year just before our world show but then ended up getting done again last July as an eight year old (I took him in to try to get some answers when he started headshaking and the vet thought he looked sore in the hind end as well). I'm hoping it doesn't mean that he'll need to be done that often in the future, just have to keep an eagle eye on him to see how he goes.

          It's frustrating and disappointing, but not always the end of the world if you can figure out how to maintain them.
          It's not about the color of the ribbon but the quality of the ride. Having said that, I'd like the blue one please!


          • #6
            OP, what discipline do you ride?

            I know a many WP horses started young who are getting maintenance injections at or before age 5, followed by the IM adequan or pentosan maintenance routine.
            "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


            • #7
              Would love to know what breeds you are dealing with, OP and others?

              I'm developing my own little theory which you may or may not be able to blow out of the water...


              • Original Poster

                We don't really have a set discipline. I guess I'd say dressage, but we've been doing basic stuff, and we've hopped a few cross rails.
                She has only been in steady work for the last year.
                As far as I know she was started in the spring when she turned 2, then spent that winter turned out, then I got her the spring she turned 3.

                She is a Percheron tb cross, a pmu baby.


                • #9
                  Interesting. Is her conformation conducive to having hock issues? Cow-hocked, sickle-hocked, very upright?

                  My arab mare is slightly cow-hocked, and the vet said this could contribute to her arthritic changes in her hocks earlier in life than if she had better conformation.
                  "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


                  • Original Poster

                    Vet was out yesterday and we did injections in the top two joints of the right hock.

                    I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with a horse with arthritis in the Upper hock joints? I can't find much on google about upper hocks except that this is career ending.
                    Vet didn't say anything about that, he kind of gave me a non answer when I asked about prognosis.
                    I know that each case is different and "it depends", but I'm wondering what to expect, am I going to get a few probably uncomfortably years out of my girl, before retiring her at 7, or worse.
                    Thanks for any input, just feeling really sad about my baby