Fused Hocks

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Fused Hocks

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    12-22-2009, 07:49 PM
Fused Hocks

A clients horse had recent xrays done and his hocks are 90% fused if not more... He has had some on and off lameness (grade 2 at worst) and the vet is convinced its probably not his hocks... or if so not for long. He said a big HOWEVER the consensus is once the hocks are done fusing their pain goes away but there are several skeptics that say the hocks are never 100% fused and there may always be some intermittent lameness issues.

I'm just curious what other peoples experiences have been with fused hocks and what they have done to managed the condition. Knowing what you know now would you still purchase your horse?
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    12-22-2009, 07:57 PM
A dear friend had a school horse with intermitent hind end lameness related to chronic hock problems.

She turned him out for a year and allowed the hocks to fuse completely.

I then had him in my barn for 3 years where he was happy and sound as a trail and pleasure horse. He did not jump, period. He could do ring work 1 - 2 days a week, no more. But he was a happy and useful horse until he had to be put down for an unrelated issue.

So, I think (and this is for *all* hock issues) that first, a break is in order. Continuing to work the horse is going to bring on inflammation and pain and actually delaying the fusion. Then, a career change is in order as well. If the horse can take a step down career wise, he may still have a long and useful life ahead.
    12-22-2009, 08:42 PM
Everything I've read said that consistent exercise helps hocks fuse more quickly... Not nescessarily hard cantering and small circles but some inflammation helps the hocks to fuse quicker.
    12-22-2009, 08:51 PM
Truthfully, I can't answer that. I don't know, and haven't done the reseach.

My contact with this individual horse was after his hocks were already fused.
    12-23-2009, 03:08 PM
If the horse is being ridden gently and slowly, walking and trotting on straight lines and large figures (no cantering, no jumping, no tight turns), the exercise will help keep the horse fit while encouraging the fusion to proceed as quickly as possible. If the horse is being worked hard, asked to canter or gallop or perform small, intricate ring figures or tight turns, the exercise can cause even more damage

Depending on the degree of cartilage degeneration present, your vet may choose to use several different forms of treatment. The most common treatment nowadays involves chondroitin sulfate (ask about Adequan); your vet may also suggest injecting the joints, usually with Hyaluronic acid, sometimes with steroids. Or he may advise against this: Some vets prefer not to do any joint injections at all, because any joint injection is invasive and could result in an infection. If he does suggest injections, this is how they work: The steroids (typically cortisone) injections serve to reduce the inflammation, allowing the horse to move more comfortably. The steroids also simultaneously contribute to the further destruction of cartilage, thus tending to speed up the process of fusion.

I pulled that from a good article I found on it.

    12-23-2009, 03:30 PM
My QH started having hock issues about 4 or 5 years ago. It started on the left side and x-rays showed at that time it was about 50% fused. It has since become a problem on the right. Last summer I had him looked at again and the left is now about 90% and the right is at about 50-60%.

Some horses never fuse completely and yes excersise will help with the fusing, but only up to a point. There are lots of articles written by lameness vets on this subject, as it's become so common. Even at 90% the horse can still be productive but he might need to have his "job description" changed. A HJ may have to be down graded to something else.

I used to jump with my guy and now we work on more dressage. He's still my trail horse and has no problems with going on a 10-14K ride with a little trot and canter thrown in. As he gets older the winters are a little harder on him, especially as we live in a cold damp climate. He gets lots of turn out, I try to keep his weight down, have a chiro look at him 2 or 3 times a year to make sure he isn't compensating anywhere else in his body from any discomfort in his hocks and if required he is put on a low dose of bute. (1 gram every other day). Hock injections are also an option.

I vetted my guy before I bought him and he failed the flexion test on his left hind. At the time he had never taken a lame step. X-ray's at the time (10 Years ago) never showed anything. Knowing what I know now would I still buy him? Yes, I have no problem changing my priorities to suit how my horse feels.

I suppose if competing was the bee all a person may feel differently.
    12-23-2009, 05:25 PM
I keep picturing a horse walking like they have a fake leg, like they can't bend their hocks. What does a hock fusion entail?
    12-23-2009, 09:08 PM
Hahahaa that's a funny image....

It is exactly what it says it is, fusion... theres multiple small bones in the hock, and usually just a couple lower ones fuse, so even when its fuse, it still lets the hock flex

Hahaha peg leg horse.... hahaha. I love it!
    12-23-2009, 10:25 PM
Actually, in severe hock injuries and subsequent fusion, I have seen a couple of horses that seemed to move with a "peg-leg" type motion when going faster than a walk. These particular horses were either retired from work altogether (after a grueling polo career and injury to the hock) and a Western Pleasure horse that was injured by a collision with another horse that broke a couple of the bones in the hock. The joints are fused in both horses, and they walk fairly normally, but flexion is almost non-existent. The vets (two separate specialists, as these horses are hundreds of miles away from each other) both claim the horse is probably not in pain, but it does alter the gait and they aren't useful for showing, polo, etc, but are cleared to be riddend at a walk or trot without harm. These horses won't allow me to trim them normally on that foot, as the joint won't bend enough. I practically stand on my head and have them "rest" their foot while I nip, and I can lift it about 3 inches off the ground for rasping. Fortunately, the hock injury also causes them to use the other leg more, and with frequent trimming, these hooves don't require much work by me.
    12-24-2009, 05:21 PM
Originally Posted by AlmagroN    
... theres multiple small bones in the hock, and usually just a couple lower ones fuse, so even when its fuse, it still lets the hock flex

That's correct, most often the joints that fuse are the lower tarsal joints, these joints are not involved in hock flexion, so once the fusing has completed your horse will move just fine.

It's important to know which joint/s are affected to know what the long term outcome is going to be.

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