How do you suppose my 6 year old has osteoarthritis? Advice for dealing with this?

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How do you suppose my 6 year old has osteoarthritis? Advice for dealing with this?

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    10-12-2013, 11:38 AM
How do you suppose my 6 year old has osteoarthritis? Advice for dealing with this?

I have a 6 yr old mare and she is such a sweetheart. I've had her since 2011, just over 2 years, and she has been a dream come true.

Our first few months, we were sort of just bopping around, having some fun. But when I moved stables in an attempt to get a bit more serious, I started to notice some issues.

She began to crow hop, one day she wouldn't even move forward but tried to buck me off. She was in too much pain. So, we had the vet come out, and she said it was stifle lameness. OK, so we put her on bute, gave her some rest, and in a couple weeks she was back under saddle.

We still noticed the crow hopping, but that could easily have been a form of resistance because she was so green. After weeks and weeks of riding, she still had some little crowhops, but overall had seemed to smooth out for the better.

Then I moved stables after a fall I had caused by the slope of the paddock I would always ride in. It was a lack of control and balance on my part, but I doubt it would have happened had it not been for the downward slope we were cantering over. (that's not really important to the story though haha)

Anyway, we moved and then stiffness and riding issues returned, so we had the vet come out. After hundreds of dollars of testing, my girl was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. It could be seen in her joints, and the injections were in each side of the sacroiliac area. It would make sense that things would show up in her stifles because they are such closely related areas. The joint injections didn't seem to do much at first, but after 3 months of rest, hand walking, and pasture turnout, she was much better and ready to start dressage.

Now, something else is going on, her legs keep swelling up and getting hot (just the two back legs), but I'm going to elaborate on that in another thread. My question is, how can I deal with this and why do you think this happened? If anyone else has been following my ring thread about how I just switched stables and none of the rings are great for riding in, do you think too hard/too soft rings can contribute to this? I know I've been dealing with this for a while, but I'm really extra cautious about everything after I realize she has these issues. If you saw her in the field, you wouldn't think she has arthritis at all.

Thanks :)
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    10-12-2013, 09:49 PM

Various reasons that horses develop body probs that lead to osteo-arthritis. Could be due to chronic long term issues that have gradually got to this stage, or could have been a reasonably recent injury. Apparently, depending on the type of injury/joint problem, ossification can begin within 6 weeks!!

As horse's joints in their back & hocks don't 'close' until 4-5yo on average, weightbearing & high impact work prior to that can cause damage, especially in their 'lower' back.

Another consideration is that of birthing trauma. While I haven't personally looked into this much, I've heard, from a well respected vet chiro who has researched it extensively - and fixed many young & old horses with the problem - that because of the position of the foal & shape of the pelvis/birth canal, injury to ribs, withers & hips/sacral region is very common. If the problem isn't rectified in the foal/young horse, the front end tends to heal without intervention, but hips/sacrum don't & can get worse. Apparently it can be treated in older horses, but is more difficult & not as successful. I don't know whether it could be treated once it's got to the point of osteo-arthritis, but worth considering a good vet chiro IMO.
iDressage likes this.
    10-12-2013, 10:17 PM
Is she an OTTB? It could be the result of hard racing.
    10-13-2013, 07:10 PM
She's a quarter horse!
    10-14-2013, 01:48 AM
My Paint horse has a mystery lameness similar to what you describe. Her joints have no arthritis according to X rays, but the vet suspects she injured her SI.

Did you get a nuclear scan done? The vet said the only way for me to tell for CERTAIN what was wrong was to get a nuclear scan. She could have a small defect in the cartilage which doesn't show on X rays or something else going on.

I just had her SI injected 2 weeks ago Friday. How long did it take you to see any improvement? My vet told me to give her 2 weeks rest and than start her back into work. Said I would see the most improvement after 30 days.

Any pictures of her back legs? If they are both swelling maybe she is just stocking up? Or could she have a ligament or tendon injury?
    10-14-2013, 09:53 AM
Originally Posted by iDressage    
She's a quarter horse!
Did she do any gaming, cow work or anything competitively or hard training? Hard work or injury are often the causes for early arthritis.
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    10-14-2013, 11:59 AM
I mean "hard training" for us is considered light work to a lot of other people, and the doctor said that work would help her. We got not only x-rays but ultrasounds done also, which confirmed the arthritis because he could see it in the scan. I gave her 3 months off because putting her back into work sooner after the injections wasn't going well.
    10-14-2013, 12:03 PM
And by the way, I'm sorry about your horse. I hope she feels better!
    10-14-2013, 06:32 PM
So have you had/are you going to get a vet chiro or such to have a look at her? It'd definitely be worth doing sooner rather than waiting - the more damage there is, of course the harder it is to treat.
    10-14-2013, 09:49 PM
Well of course we had the vet do plenty with her and her arthritis, and we had a chiro come once or twice I can't remember, but I think it's definitely worth revisiting. However my trainer just suggested today that we get the vet to look at her again and/or put her on a joint supplement to help her out. She's getting a little stiff again.

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