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"Hitchy" Hind End

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    "Hitchy" Hind End

    Hello all, I am posting in order to get some different opinions on my 3-year old mare, and if anyone has had any similar experiences with a youngster. My apologies if this post turns long.

    She was originally purchased as a 2-year old in August on 2019. I had her fully vetted, including radiographs of all four feet, knees, navicular(s), back, hocks and stifles. Extensive for a 2-year old but I wanted to be sure about my purchase. The vet that did my PPE (~6 hours south of where I currently reside) concluded that nothing was abnormal and I would be able to achieve my intended use (hunter, likely jumper, goal is 1.20m+ with her). The only thing that I thought was strange on the report, was there was effusion (fluid) in her stifles. She had stated that this was normal in 8/10 horses. However, due to the statement, my insurance policy will not cover any injury or maintenance regarding her stifles, which I thought was fine.

    Fast forward to November 2019 when we decided to break her (we had her in a 5 week program prior to giving her the entire winter off). She was OK for the first few weeks, and then became slightly "hitchy" in her hind end. My trainer assumed that she was growing and maybe a tad sore from the work (nothing extensive, very low intensity and nothing longer than 10 - 15 minutes). We concluded her training, decided that we would help her out by pulling her on E plus Selenium when she returned to work mid May. No issues over the winter.

    Fast forward to May of 2020, she has been put on the supplement and re-introduced to her under saddle work. She has been worked consistently (4 to 5 short sessions per week) since then, fast forwarding to today. Training is going well and she has been super eager to work. However, the ever so slight "hitchyness" has returned (approximately 8 weeks in). We are stumped.

    The vet comes this week to take a look at her and I want to assume that it's growth, maybe a touch of soreness or weakness in the hind end, but I'm worried that all of the puzzle pieces are coming together. The effusion from her PPE, hind end "hitch", and not to mention she rests her hind a little funky in the cross ties (see attached photo, everyone assumes it is because she is young and that I am being a hypochondriac). She is not started over fences, has only ever been worked on the flat, which also concerns me. Has anyone had a similar experience with a young horse? Better yet, any reassurance you can give me to rest my anxiety until the vet comes mid week?

    I was told to keep riding lightly as she tends to work out of it, and the "hitch" has not gotten any worse since we first discovered it in November. We also had a saddle fitter come last week to ensure my saddle is not bothering her in any which way (currently using an adjustable shim half pad to keep a good fit). I am worried that she will not be able to achieve what I bought her for. Any insight helps, thanks in advance.

    EDIT: I forgot to mention, this "hitch" is only really visible at the trot. She is un-phased at the walk and canter.
    Last edited by kwpn_01; Jul. 20, 2020, 08:49 AM.

    #2
    On a scale of 1-10 where ten is the worst, where does the lameness fall?
    Personally, I wouldn't ride a 3 yo, but rather would be doing lots of work in hand, groundwork, long lining, and exposing their baby brain to literally everything I can think of (hard w the lockdown stuff).

    Has chiro been done? If it is only one side, it could be an indicator something else is going on elsewhere...

    Comment

      Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by blue_heron View Post
      On a scale of 1-10 where ten is the worst, where does the lameness fall?
      Personally, I wouldn't ride a 3 yo, but rather would be doing lots of work in hand, groundwork, long lining, and exposing their baby brain to literally everything I can think of (hard w the lockdown stuff).

      Has chiro been done? If it is only one side, it could be an indicator something else is going on elsewhere...
      I would say probably a 2 or 3, it's definitely there, but very slight. We have a program for our young horses that we've followed for years without issue, she will be getting more time off in the fall/winter and will stay in light, consistent work until then. We did plenty of groundwork and exposure in her time off in 2019/beginning of 2020, but I do not disagree with your method!

      Chiro has not yet been done, that is something that the vet will do once she arrives mid week. We will see if that helps.

      Comment


        #4
        Got a video?

        What is her turnout regime like?
        AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by kwpn_01 View Post

          I would say probably a 2 or 3, it's definitely there, but very slight. We have a program for our young horses that we've followed for years without issue, she will be getting more time off in the fall/winter and will stay in light, consistent work until then. We did plenty of groundwork and exposure in her time off in 2019/beginning of 2020, but I do not disagree with your method!

          Chiro has not yet been done, that is something that the vet will do once she arrives mid week. We will see if that helps.
          Two times I have had a low grade stifle lameness:
          1. Compensating for a lameness in the opposite front limb/shoulder
          2. SI issue that was helped by chiro and eventually injected (hopefully not the case for your young horse)

          The other time I've had a stifle issue was in a young horse-- a patellar luxation, which mostly went away with strength and growth.

          Would also be interested in seeing a video!

          Comment

            Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by beowulf View Post
            Got a video?

            What is her turnout regime like?
            I will try to post one tonight or tomorrow! Turnout is from 8am - 4pm every day in a grass paddock with two other mares.

            Comment

              Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by blue_heron View Post

              Two times I have had a low grade stifle lameness:
              1. Compensating for a lameness in the opposite front limb/shoulder
              2. SI issue that was helped by chiro and eventually injected (hopefully not the case for your young horse)

              The other time I've had a stifle issue was in a young horse-- a patellar luxation, which mostly went away with strength and growth.

              Would also be interested in seeing a video!
              Thank you for your insight! Although none of these injuries/issues are great, they are more reassuring than a career ending one at 3 years old. Hopefully we don't require injections for a while but regular chiro might be in our future.

              Comment


                #8
                Considered or done a biopsy for EPSM? "Hitchiness" is often one of the first symptoms to show, regardless of age or length of time under saddle. Do some poking on the interwebz. There is a great Facebook page all about it: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1015...f=group_header

                Answer the Membership questions and you'll be in. Great folks to bounce stuff off of.
                <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.

                Comment

                  Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by ChocoMare View Post
                  Considered or done a biopsy for EPSM? "Hitchiness" is often one of the first symptoms to show, regardless of age or length of time under saddle. Do some poking on the interwebz. There is a great Facebook page all about it: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1015...f=group_header

                  Answer the Membership questions and you'll be in. Great folks to bounce stuff off of.
                  This is very interesting, thank you! Perhaps it is worth mentioning to my vet. However, she doesn't seem to carry any other symptoms or have a laid back personality as the article mentions. She is pretty high strung and in front of my leg, most days. Mind you, for being 3 years old, she is pretty muscled and "grown up" looking.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    In what phase of her stride does the "hitchiness" appear. In the weight bearing, or the carrying forward of the leg ?

                    If weight bearing, I would look at leg joints.
                    If carrying, I would look at the muscles of the upper leg and back.
                    ... _. ._ .._. .._

                    Comment

                      Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Equibrit View Post
                      In what phase of her stride does the "hitchiness" appear. In the weight bearing, or the carrying forward of the leg ?

                      If weight bearing, I would look at leg joints.
                      If carrying, I would look at the muscles of the upper leg and back.
                      It is definitely in the carrying forward of the leg, when she does it she also short steps a little bit as well. Hoping chiro will help.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Does she rest her hind like that in her stall, or in turnout? Is the hitch only on one side? Does she have a clear strong/weak side when riding and does it correlate to the hitch? Is it only when in work or is she hitch-y on the first step when you go to get her from her stall or turnout, or when you ask her to turn after standing?

                        My lease horse is hitch-y in a way we have never been able to get to the bottom of - he's also 19, had a successful 1.20m career, and was still jumping around 3'6 at 16/17. It does improve after injections (hocks for the past few years, coffin bones this year as well) and it's better when he's very fit. He has never had any stifle issues in the 3 - 4 yrs we have had him. I believe he has a very mild stringhalt but don't think he's every been officially diagnosed and it doesn't impede him in any way.

                        Comment

                          Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by 173north View Post
                          Does she rest her hind like that in her stall, or in turnout? Is the hitch only on one side? Does she have a clear strong/weak side when riding and does it correlate to the hitch? Is it only when in work or is she hitch-y on the first step when you go to get her from her stall or turnout, or when you ask her to turn after standing?

                          My lease horse is hitch-y in a way we have never been able to get to the bottom of - he's also 19, had a successful 1.20m career, and was still jumping around 3'6 at 16/17. It does improve after injections (hocks for the past few years, coffin bones this year as well) and it's better when he's very fit. He has never had any stifle issues in the 3 - 4 yrs we have had him. I believe he has a very mild stringhalt but don't think he's every been officially diagnosed and it doesn't impede him in any way.
                          To answer your questions: she typically rests her hind like this before/after work in the crossties, occasionally in her stall, but nothing consistent that I've noticed. For riding she is relatively equal in both directions and a little stiffer on the left rein. However, the hitch is more prevalent on the right rein and especially on a circle (lunging) at the trot. Hitch is only really present when working and not so much outside of that.

                          We did x-rays yesterday and didn't find anything obvious. There is a small difference between her stifle x-rays when I purchased her last year and today, so that might give us some answers. OCD seems possible, but no official/firm diagnosis yet.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Have you blocked yet?
                            AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Agree with getting her tested for EPM, did you check for a hip fracture or possible issue with the semitendinosus muscle, I've had 2 horses one with a hip fracture (track related) and the other with a torn semitendinosus (healed but with scare tissue) both had a shortened stride in that hind leg where the injury was, the hip fracture was more pronounced? I would get a good diagnosis before you consider using this horse for any kind of jumping if that is your goal.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                As the horse is only 3 - I would consider putting her out to grass for the rest of the year and let her grow and develop a bit more.
                                ... _. ._ .._. .._

                                Comment

                                  Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by beowulf View Post
                                  Have you blocked yet?
                                  No, we haven't blocked yet. Still awaiting the results from the rads and we'll go from there.

                                  Originally posted by js View Post
                                  Agree with getting her tested for EPM, did you check for a hip fracture or possible issue with the semitendinosus muscle, I've had 2 horses one with a hip fracture (track related) and the other with a torn semitendinosus (healed but with scare tissue) both had a shortened stride in that hind leg where the injury was, the hip fracture was more pronounced? I would get a good diagnosis before you consider using this horse for any kind of jumping if that is your goal.
                                  Also performed rads of the hip, definitely no fracture. I'm also unsure how she would have managed such an injury! Absolutely, though. No more riding until this is figured out for sure. If this provides any more insight to bounce ideas off of, we did flexions on both hinds and she was more sore to the right (as expected) and trotted off lame. There is more effusion on the right than on the left, so that has also been noted. I'm overwhelmed with what it could be and I just want answers at this point.

                                  Originally posted by Equibrit View Post
                                  As the horse is only 3 - I would consider putting her out to grass for the rest of the year and let her grow and develop a bit more.
                                  I'm also considering this, but after whatever this is has been put to bed. I'd hate for it to return when we get back under saddle say, early next year at four and when jumping comes into play.

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    I've been in a similar situation with my 4 year old mare. Full set of x-rays as a late 2 year old were all clean. Lightly started at 3, 3 days/week light rides, 3 days/week groundwork, zero issues. Put back out for 6 months. When we restarted this spring, same program as before, she developed a hitch about 3 weeks in. Not apparent at the walk, fine trotting on a straight line, slight hitch when carrying rh forward when on a circle and the trot to walk transition. Became more apparent when on the right rein and stiffer/harder to turn going left. Vet said she was all over body sore and probably originating from stifles as her conformation is slightly straight through stifle and hock and she's a little butt high. No effusion on either stifle. She recommended muscler relaxers and a chiro visit. 5 days on muscle relaxers resolved the body soreness but not the hitch.

                                    Vet/chiro came out 3 weeks after vet. Mare is on 24/7 turnout and we had been handwalking/ponying on hills about 30 min/day since initial vet visit but hitch was still apparent to the same degree as 3 weeks prior. Chiro said just a young horse stifle weakness, set up by straight stifle conformation, being a mare, and being young/building muscle. Did a few adjustments and recommended she be put back undersaddle immediately doing short daily rides with lots of serpentines and leg yields. Hitch was gone and according to the chiro if it doesn't come back over the next three weeks (currently at week 2) then she will be good to go and it shouldn't ever be an issue again. Apparently, there are separate nerves for each stifle and they can misfire, which creates the hitch. He also recommended more alfalfa to help strengthen her top line, but my mare is more lean looking than yours from your pics.

                                    My chiro was very reassuring that this was a common issue in young horses, especially mares, and that if I stuck to the workload he recommended she would be completely fine. Hoping he's right and that this possibly helps with your mare as well!

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      I would have done it the other way; block first, and then do rads of suspect areas.

                                      I'm with Equibrit that, the horse is so young I think real Dr Green (as in 24/7 turnout) for another year would be good. No stalling.

                                      I am also the type that I can't not know. I need to know what it is; so if you're that type, I'd be involving a lameness vet and start blocking and see where the horse improves, and start ultrasounding (or x-raying) there.

                                      I've had more issues with soft tissue injuries in the stifle, than bone chips or OCD. At this point in my horse owning career a clean x-ray of the stifle doesn't mean much to me especially if there is effusion. I always ultrasound them first.
                                      AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                                      Comment

                                        Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by flea52 View Post
                                        I've been in a similar situation with my 4 year old mare. Full set of x-rays as a late 2 year old were all clean. Lightly started at 3, 3 days/week light rides, 3 days/week groundwork, zero issues. Put back out for 6 months. When we restarted this spring, same program as before, she developed a hitch about 3 weeks in. Not apparent at the walk, fine trotting on a straight line, slight hitch when carrying rh forward when on a circle and the trot to walk transition. Became more apparent when on the right rein and stiffer/harder to turn going left. Vet said she was all over body sore and probably originating from stifles as her conformation is slightly straight through stifle and hock and she's a little butt high. No effusion on either stifle. She recommended muscler relaxers and a chiro visit. 5 days on muscle relaxers resolved the body soreness but not the hitch.

                                        Vet/chiro came out 3 weeks after vet. Mare is on 24/7 turnout and we had been handwalking/ponying on hills about 30 min/day since initial vet visit but hitch was still apparent to the same degree as 3 weeks prior. Chiro said just a young horse stifle weakness, set up by straight stifle conformation, being a mare, and being young/building muscle. Did a few adjustments and recommended she be put back undersaddle immediately doing short daily rides with lots of serpentines and leg yields. Hitch was gone and according to the chiro if it doesn't come back over the next three weeks (currently at week 2) then she will be good to go and it shouldn't ever be an issue again. Apparently, there are separate nerves for each stifle and they can misfire, which creates the hitch. He also recommended more alfalfa to help strengthen her top line, but my mare is more lean looking than yours from your pics.

                                        My chiro was very reassuring that this was a common issue in young horses, especially mares, and that if I stuck to the workload he recommended she would be completely fine. Hoping he's right and that this possibly helps with your mare as well!
                                        This is reassuring, thank you! We did a little bit of chiro prior to the radiographs and vet mentioned that she is not sore in her muscles. I suppose the only difference between our cases is that my mare does have more effusion in one stifle than the other so there is definitely something there. Hoping my story ends as happy as yours did! Still awaiting results.

                                        Originally posted by beowulf View Post
                                        I would have done it the other way; block first, and then do rads of suspect areas.

                                        I'm with Equibrit that, the horse is so young I think real Dr Green (as in 24/7 turnout) for another year would be good. No stalling.

                                        I am also the type that I can't not know. I need to know what it is; so if you're that type, I'd be involving a lameness vet and start blocking and see where the horse improves, and start ultrasounding (or x-raying) there.

                                        I've had more issues with soft tissue injuries in the stifle, than bone chips or OCD. At this point in my horse owning career a clean x-ray of the stifle doesn't mean much to me especially if there is effusion. I always ultrasound them first.
                                        I'm considering putting her out to pasture, it's a tough decision but I think it will be worth it in the end once we figure this mess out. Whatever it is, we've narrowed it down to the right stifle. I'm thinking the radiographs are too clean to come to any conclusion and we'll likely need to do an ultrasound and maybe blood work.

                                        Comment

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