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Steps to take when faced with hock pain

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  • Steps to take when faced with hock pain

    So I know my mare (10 yr old, OTTB) has hock pain (flexed a 1 and a 2, movement suggests it), I am trying to decide what route to take that would be the most effective for her and cost effective for me (relatively ).

    How should I approach this with my vet. She is my first horse and my baby, I want her to have the best I can give her. This is my first time dealing with my own unsound horse and I want to make sure I do this right.

    X-rays first right? How many should I expect to be taken? What will we specifically be looking for in the x-rays? If the hocks are starting to fuse on their own would the injections be worth doing or better to just leave them alone? Then there are the stuff like adequan and legends, how do I know that they aren't the route to go? How do you make these kind of decisions? I am still trying to figure all of this out, it is frustrating but I guess we all have to learn about this stuff at some point.

    I've had a couple people (a few boarders and a trainer) suggest just going ahead and getting the injections done w/o getting the rads done. Some of them have done this with success but I am just not sure. I just feel so lost in all of it.

    I appreciate all of the advice and comments, I come to COTH because of the great wealth of knowledge and experience on this board but I do understand that there also a great many different opinions here too.
    “It's about the horse and that's it.” - GM

    !! is the new .
  • Original Poster

    Shoot, this was suppose to go into Horse Care. Thats what I get for posting at 1am during a bout of insomnia.
    “It's about the horse and that's it.” - GM

    !! is the new .


    • #3
      I went through this a couple years ago with my mare. She was much older than yours and had bad hock arthritis that caused me to eventually retire her.

      I'd get the xrays, for a couple of reasons. Without them, you don't really have any idea exactly what you're dealing with, other than generic hock pain. You'd know where the problem is (upper or lower hock joint), how bad, whether one side is worse than the other, if there's a bone chip etc. It's good to have a baseline, so if things get worse down the road, you can go back and compare. Also, they can help guide your treatment choices. For example, my older mare had xrays the vet said were "as bad as it gets." He doubted there was enough joint space left to get a needle in for injections and wasn't sure they had much chance of restoring her to a rideable state, so we didn't pursue them and focused more on keeping her comfortable (24/7 turnout, bute, MSM). In my case, the xrays kept me from spending on a lot of money on something that wasn't likely to provide much benefit.

      Daily bute, joint injections, adequan, legend, IRAP....there are lots of possible treatment options ranging from dirt cheap to second mortgage. Your vet should be able to discuss the pros/cons of all of these with you and the xrays would help him/her give their recommendations. Whatever you decide, it is not written in stone. You can start conservatively and always go to a more expensive option if it doesn't work. Or you could start with something more aggressive depending on your preference.

      Ask your vet about what they see the prognosis being (pasture pet, trail riding, no jumping, only low jumping etc). Lots of horses drop down a level of competition and stay sound, even if they never return to their former peak level of performance. It is better and less stressful for you if you manage your expectations and make the goal to be keeping your horse serviceably sound and comfortable. Your mare is young so with all the options out there, I would say there's a reasonable chance you can improve things.

      I think lifestyle changes are as important as anything else. My mare does best with 24/7 turnout. Light exercise (with your vet's permission) is good. When my mare was really stiff , I used to do up to an hour of hand walking. Even with 24/7 turnout, she used to just stand around and we'd still do the handwalking just to get her moving. She might start out really stiff but came back feeling better.

      Some people may disagree, but I think joint supplements can do a world of good. It sometimes takes some experimenting to find the one that works for your horse. My mare never got much benefit from cosequin, but plain MSM (~$10/month from Smartpak, cheaper if you buy in bulk) worked wonders. Others I've known have had the exact opposite experience so as always YMMV.

      You know your horse best and that counts for a lot. You'll figure it out.

      Good luck!
      Proudly owned by 2 chestnut mares
      Crayola Posse: sea green
      Mighty Rehabbers Clique


      • #4
        Just kind of throwing it out there, but how are her feet? Bad trims/shoeings can cause a lot of issues higher up on the legs. Make sure her feet are in good working order.
        Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


        • #5
          This reference thread does not have 'hock pain' in the title so can get missed. I know that this procedure works. I now do every horse when they get radiographic hock changes or joint narrowing, as a lameness preventative. One major trainer in the area reportedly sends his new imported resale horses for this surgery right away as they will jump better and be worth exponentially more $$$$.

          Whether or not you want to do this procedure, you all should know that it exists and why it works. Hocks suffer from an unfortunate side effect of horse evolution, and our requiring horses to work, jump and collect as nature did not intend. Read page 2 first. http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...ad.php?t=29839
          Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


          • #6
            Originally posted by Plumcreek View Post

            Hocks suffer from an unfortunate side effect of horse evolution, and our requiring horses to work, jump and collect as nature did not intend.
            So true. My mare was a winning 2 and 3 year old WP futurity horse, then a regional level breed/open show horse before becoming my 4H/pleasure riding horse, and I'm convinced the early work did her no favors. Hock pain in horses is like back pain in humans. If you live long enough and work your body hard enough, it will happen eventually.....

            Proudly owned by 2 chestnut mares
            Crayola Posse: sea green
            Mighty Rehabbers Clique


            • #7
              Cortisone shots in the hocks, shot of legend, a supplement that targets the specific region of pain and see how that works out.


              • #8
                Be sure everything is all right with her front end. Sometimes hock pain is indicative of a problem with the front - the horse is uncomfortable putting weight on the front and overloads the backs.

                Good luck, hope all goes well.
                "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world." ~ Jack Layton


                • #9
                  Another thought

                  If a horse is down on it's heels behind it can strain their hocks. I had a horse like that and bar shoes behind made a huge difference. He is now 23 years old and retired sound. He no longer has hind shoes since he isn't working.