Stifle issue - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 09-30-2012, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2012
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Stifle issue

I have finally found the horse I love. I took my trainer to see her and she liked her but said that she felt she had a possible stifle issue. She is 7 and has not done much of anything. She is out of shape and very green. Started under saddle and jumped a small x to a 2 stride, small oxer, for us. The lady who has her is an extremely reputable breeder with some of the top stallions in the country. This mare is by one of their stallions, Pablo. She is very protective with her horses and would not allow the trainer to do anything more with her. They are asking 28k for the horse. My trainer says that that is ALOT of money for a horse that we can't even see jump more than an X to a 2 foot oxer. She says that she is a wonderful mare, from what she can judge, for the amt able too see of her. She is concerned about her stifle though. She showed a video of the mare to her vet and the vet agrees that she "could" have a stifle issue. From the video, the vet said the mares fetlocks have too much flex which adds to the stress on the stifle. The mare likes to break in her canter after going around the ring once and when the asst. Trainer rode her and forced her to keep going, she would cross canter when she wanted to break. I thought she did this because she was green but my trainer believes it is because of the stifle issue. She is a beautiful mare, great mover and a cute jumper (from what we can see). She is sweet as can be and allows you to do anything to her. Question is: would you take the chance and vet her? It will probably cost 2500 to 3000k to do it. Which will bite into my budget for a horse, if she doesn't pass. I absolutely ADORE her and really feel she is the perfect horse for me......what is a girl to do? Any words of wisdom by all?
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post #2 of 4 Old 09-30-2012, 08:56 PM
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First- I have a 15yo TB gelding with stifle problems. I can tell you that they can be devestating. We went from competing at training level eventing possibly moving to prelim to retired and looking for a new horse in just 2 months. 28k is asking WAY too much- even if her breeding is great.

Second- The vet might not be able to find an actual problem now, but because of her confirmation, there will be one sooner or later.

Third- If you really love her and have to have her, be ready for a ton of work. I have to ride my horse 6 times a week to keep his stifle strong. I tried to give him a few days off, and we were back to slipping stifles. The vet said I shouldn't jump him any more and dressage is very hard on him too. He can't do smaller than 20 meter circles or be lunged because of the stress on his joints. Be ready for a ton of hill work and hours of trotting poles to get this stifle stronger.

Fourth- Sometimes the vet can inject the stifle, but other times they can't. I've heard that injecting the stifle is expensive and only lasts a handful of weeks. it's like a hock injection, but the horse has to be sedated. With my horse, injecting it won't help because the problem is a tight ligament that locks over the joint so they can sleep standing up. Since the joint is what gets injected, injections won't help with tight ligaments. My horse gets a shot of Depo Provera every 2 weeks to try and keep is muscles loose in his hind end. The farrier might be able to add wedged shoes to help with the angles of the joints in back. This is what we did with my horse and it helped a little bit, but not a ton.

Fifth- A weak stifle can lead to a slipping joint which is bone on bone rubbing. This can cause/ aggrivate arthritis and is painful for the horse. A slipping joint can lead to a locking joint which is very scary because a locked joint isn't far from blowing the joint. If you are riding the horse and it blows it's joint, the horse will fall. I've seen it happen at a show and it is terrifying and painful for both the horse and the rider. Most horses can't be worked after blowing a joint.

In my opinion, 7 is WAY to young to have stifle problems. I understand weakness, especially if the horse isn't worked much or correctly (you said she was fat). There is no way to tell if weakness will turn to problems or if you will be able to strengthen the joint, but her confirmation and the fact that it's hard to keep her cantering, leads me to believe that it will be a long term problem. I had a horse vetted back in April who was 5 and carried extra fluid in his stifle. The vet said it could be nothing, or it could be a problem- there was no way to tell. We walked away from that horse. Any other joint issues are fine, but the stifle is a deal breaker for a lot of people. Please, please, please think about the consequences in the worst case scenario. Are you ready to have a 7 year old EXPENSIVE horse that is unable to jump and show because of joint problems? I'm sure there is something that I'm forgetting, so if you have any questions- ask away. I've been through it all with my gelding and I can probably answer most of your questions. Really consider this- I'm not in a place to say, "Don't get this horse", but the stifle is a major concern- especially with such a young horse.

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post #3 of 4 Old 09-30-2012, 11:56 PM
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As another owner of a horse with stifle problems, I would say walk away. Drifter is slowly getting back into work but it is going to be a LONG process. I also think 28,000 is a lot to pay for a horse with stifle issues. That is a big deal
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post #4 of 4 Old 10-01-2012, 10:49 AM
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Walk away unless the owner is willing to 'guarantee soundness'.

For that much money, I would ask the breeder if the two of you could agree on a reputable leg Vet that does not 'work' for either of you. Then, have a soundness exam done with x-rays. You pay if the horses passes and the breeder pays if the horse fails.

Around here, an exam with a set of x-rays can be done for $700.00 to $1000.00.

You cannot even sell a good cutting or reining prospect now ($10,000.00 or higher) without x-rays of the hind limbs from feet to stifle. The big NCHA sales in Fort Worth require digital x-rays in their office before they accept yearlings for the select sales.

Any reputable breeder that is selling a home-bred prospect for that much money should WANT to have the horse x-rayed. No one should want to know what is going on more than the seller in this case.
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