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Really bad locking stifle

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  • Really bad locking stifle

    So.... I have a 17.3 hand 4 year old (yes, you read that right) TB gelding... He has an awful locking stifle (back left), as in he can barely stand to pick it up when I pick his feet, and he is in constant discomfort from it. Every step he takes it locks up. Sometimes after a long walk he is better, other times it doesn't help at all. I've seen another horse with a stifle so bad it ended his career, and he was turned out to pasture and now lives a happy life, but my gelding has been off for a month and has regular turnout and is miserable. The stifle continues to give him hell. I originally was charged with training him as a jumper, but I highly doubt with this stifle that will happen, I just want him to be comfortable.

    Our vet looked at him once and said put him and heavy work and turn him out in the deep, sandy roundpen (so we did for quite a while) no better.

    I had a race trainer see him and she suggested it could be frayed any thoughts?

    Blistering didn't work, maybe clipping but not happy with that thought (or price).

    My main goal is to improve his quality of life.

    "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester

  • #2
    That doesn't sound good. I have not had any locking stifle problems but my vet always say stifles are a 2 step process. The ones with really bad stifles the first time she blisters (trot 2 times a day for 2 weeks) then injects them. She says this really allows the stifle area to strengthen. You may way to try that before going any further with clipping. I'm not sure what frayed means but you may want to do some xrays and ultra sounds to know what you are really dealing with. Expensive yes but it may help you to avoid many unnecessary treatments in the long run.


    • #3
      10ccs estrone every other day for a total of 3 treatments then once per week. At best if works a miracle, at worst it does nothing.
      McDowell Racing Stables

      Home Away From Home


      • #4
        I agree with PonyLady; with the really bad ones (and believe me, we've had a few), we blister, work, and then inject. We've even had a rare few that required a second blistering.

        However, if I were you and it were in the cards financially, I'd consider some imaging studies (x-rays and MRI). We had one horse that was found to have matching OCDs in his stifles...go figure! But basically, I'd want to know if I were treating the untreatable or if there was hope yet.

        Good luck!! Stifle problems can be SO frustrating!!
        Nine out of ten times, you'll get it wrong...but it's that tenth time that you get it right that makes all the difference.


        • #5
          Have a horse that has/had the same problem. I say 'has/had' because the issue seems to be under control.

          Our horse who is also a TB would get severe locking. Ended up on outdoor board for some time which helped and lots of trot work/cavellettis/hill work to strengthen. We ended up blistering, injecting, strenghtening, injecting again and now back wedge shoes and all seems to be well. The biggest difference came following the strengthening once he was comfortable enough to work.


          • #6
            I've used estrogen before, but my vet said it was thought (there is no scientific evidence that it does anything) that the estrogen helped to tighten the ligament. Therefore, it was only used on slipping stifles, not locking stifles. So not sure if it would help/make it worse?

            I had a horse with a bad stifle and but the joint was directly injected (like a hock injection) and we put degree pads on the back shoes to help change the movement. With lots of hill work, strengthening, and after I sold him, dressage work it has not been a problem (no more injections, and barefoot now). I was also told that the last resort would be clipping.

            There was a great article (I think in EQUUS a while back) about a horse that was becoming dangerous his stifles were so bad (to the point he was almost falling down) and when they decided to clip him, one side didn't get better. Through further exploration (surgical) they found this horse actually had two ligaments, the single one had one coming off of it. They aren't sure if in the first surgery the Doctor didn't cut it all the way or if it was something the horse had always had.


            • #7
              I worked a green mare (not nearly as big as your guy) years ago who had a locking stifle. The more work and the stronger she got, the better her stifle was. Just my 2cents.


              • #8
                Oh man, do I know about locking stifles!!! I bought my large pony mare (after a year of leasing to see if her stifle would hold up) with a bad locking left stifle-Hers was a result of injury-doing a split over a jump.
                Here is what has worked for me for the past 3 years (she's 10):
                24/7 turnout on a large pasture with plenty of hills if possible. No stall-EVER-unless absolutely necessary.
                Absolutely no lunging-ever!
                Lots and lots and lots and lots of trot in mostly straight lines. Start out 2-3 minutes and work up to 20 straight. I try to trot 20 straight minutes each ride before doing anything else. If my mare has had time off for such and such reason, Ill avoid 20 m circles, lateral movements, all jumping, cantering, and tight turns for 2-3 weeks or so until she's back in shape. This being said, I work my butt off keeping her going at least 5 times a week year-round, rain, cold, whatever and get someone else to ride her if I’m on vacation or can’t keep up. It is super necessary, and I can’t stress this point enough, to keep her going or else, I’m back to basics for a month or so and she's in pain. With a stifle horse, the more work, the better!
                Lots and lots of trot poles, lots of hill work, trotting X-rails, hacking out as much as possible. As much up and down motion to keep the ligaments, muscles, and tendons tight around the joint.
                We show the 2’6 locals in the warm months but even then, I bet I only jump around an actual 2'6 course a few times a month. The rest of the time is spent trotting X-rail and trotting 2ft courses, gymnastics, etc. I only jump 2x a week and minimal at that. She’s sound to jump as long as I keep a really strict exercise program.
                It’s a lot of sacrifice but its worth a try before trying surgery or other intrusive methods. When I first started her, she was in so much pain. It was really hard to listen to everyone saying to push her through the pain and to keep her going and making her move. In the end though, she has been fantastic and it’s totally worth it. Good luck! I feel your pain!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by BeanCounterPony View Post
                  I work my butt off keeping her going at least 5 times a week year-round, rain, cold, whatever and get someone else to ride her if I’m on vacation or can’t keep up. It is super necessary, and I can’t stress this point enough, to keep her going or else, I’m back to basics for a month or so and she's in pain.
                  Been there. Done that. Got the tee shirt. NEVER AGAIN. This is what did me in with my guy. If anything, ANYTHING happened that prevented even a DAY in which he was not worked-- major regression. Two to three days off and we were practically back to square one. Something innocous that would be no big deal for a normal horse (hives where the saddle goes, throwing a shoe and the farrier can't come back for 2 days) and it was a disaster for him. I hope your stifle case works out better than mine. I tried everything but surgery (which was new and not proven at the time) for 5 years before retiring him at the ripe old age of 9 having never really had any serious period of soundness.
                  "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                    10ccs estrone every other day for a total of 3 treatments then once per week. At best if works a miracle, at worst it does nothing.
                    Stuff works! Try it


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by johnhesting
                      This is why we always safe harbor self-awareness exists: because it simply aware of these hidden subconscious monsters and what they do to us to drag them into the bright light of our logical and rational mind ... where they often burn under the heat of reason, as vampires in the sunlight.
                      Great post. I could not agree more.
                      When the boogeyman goes to sleep, he checks the closet for George Morris. -mpsbarnmanager