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Dropped Fetlocks

This is a discussion on Dropped Fetlocks within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Foals with extreme flaccidity in the hind fetlocks
  • What causes dropped fetlocks in the horse

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    05-02-2013, 02:28 AM
  #11
Yearling
Get some pictures of the horse standing still/square.

What you are describing (dropped fetlocks) is usually due to degenerative suspensory ligaments (DSLD). Usual signs include hind limb lameness (both hinds), swelling over the suspensories, and thickening of the ankle. As the fetlocks begin to drop, the horse's conformation changes. The horse will become very straight in the hind end.

The farrier is the first person who noticed it on my old horse.

Remember it is also normal for the pasterns to drop as the horse moves (to absorb the impact). The difference is with DSLD, the ligaments weaken and no longer spring back. It's like a rubber band that gets over stretched.

It is most noticeable at the walk and standstill. Some horses can have it and still be sound, but it is a degenerative disease.

It is very common in older horses. Now that I know what it is I've seen at least 5-6 horses with it. It is can be a slow onset, or quick onset. My mare probably had it for years without anyone knowing. Everyone assumed she had hock issues.

If she did have it, I would keep working her lightly as long as she is sound and not having any major swelling. The muscles need to be strong to make up for the weak ligaments. Stall rest would be the worst thing for a horse with DSLD.
updownrider and jaydee like this.
     
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    05-02-2013, 02:00 PM
  #12
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
I remember your threads. Do you still take lessons there?
When did you get your own horse? That is pretty cool. She's cute.
How old did you say she is?
Yup! I still take lessons on that Friesian mare. Unfortunately she is moving away sometime this year... yikes!

I got this horse about two months ago. Dory is five and a sweetheart. I'm working with a nice family to continue getting her headed in the right direction.

4horses, I've attached a side photo of her. It's also a couple of months old and I've posted it in the conformation section here before.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Doryconfo2.jpg (58.4 KB, 81 views)
     
    05-02-2013, 02:33 PM
  #13
Yearling
She looks fine! I don't think you have anything to worry about! Nice upright pasterns! The front ankles should always match the back. At her age, you probably have nothing to worry about.
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    05-02-2013, 03:13 PM
  #14
Super Moderator
She looks fine on the last pic - maybe just the angle of the shots on the first one as it did look as if she had a suspensory problem coming on from those.
All us horse owners suffer from paranoia - my husband had me rush out to the barn the other night in my nightclothes because his 'baby' was dying or 'had colic' when he did the last check - she was actually fast asleep and snoring her head off, she wondered what all the fuss was about!!
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    05-04-2013, 07:55 AM
  #15
Super Moderator
She looks a little 'coon footed' to me but not severely so.

An 'upright' pastern is one that is at a steeper angle than a normal hoof -- more upright than 50 to 55 degrees.

A 'coon footed' pastern is one that is lower or more angled than a normal hoof when the horse is standing.

This horse has pasterns that are slightly more angled than her feet, particularly her hind pasterns. The 'ideal' pastern would be one that is in a straight line from the fetlock to the ground and does not have what is called 'a broken axis' where the hoof joins the pastern.

This horse is not severely coon footed and should not have any problems. Carrying a very heavy rider and extremely hard work could be a problem, but I've seen a lot worse that had no problems with general riding.

When this is much more severe or if the angle changes and gets more extreme over time, it is often diagnosed as DSLD (Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Desmitis). This is a very severe and crippling condition. It is seen very often in Peruvian Pasos and Paso Fino horses.

If you 'google' the term, you will find many photos and they show horses much worse than this horse.
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    05-05-2013, 12:57 AM
  #16
Weanling
I went through this with my Arab gelding a few months ago-- he has a lot of bounce in his movement and as a result his fetlocks really flex when he's trotting. Turns out he's just fine, and has never been lame to boot. ;) Your mare is fine (and cute!), don't worry about it! :)
     
    05-05-2013, 07:31 AM
  #17
Super Moderator
Many horses have a lot of 'flex' in their fetlocks at the trot or when they run. It is not unusual for some horses' fetlocks to touch the ground when they are running. Some race horses need protection, particularly on their hind fetlocks, to keep them from getting all bloody during a race. To judge if a saddle-horse horse is coon footed, you have to look at the pastern to hoof axis when the horse is standing squarely.

Here is a photo of a horse that would be considered very coon footed and more than likely has DSLD.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSLD.jpg (14.8 KB, 48 views)
     

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