Just before thanksgiving, my gypsy vanner came into the stall dead lame, dragging his back leg. The vet came straight out and said that it was upward fixation of the patella. He said it is not uncommon in young horses (my horse will turn three April 2013). He suggested cutting the ligaments if it became a repetitive issue. He used his hands to get the knee back in place and I gave my horse bute for a few days. Online articles suggested hand walking him to build strength and then trotting up hills...but avoiding lounging or round penning. So, for his first walk, it was very short, but as soon as the ground sloped down he started crow hoping and acting up. The next day I chose a very level short walk and seemingly out of nowhere he exploded ...crow hopping, bucking kicking etc and finally bolted. In the process he kicked me in the face, knocked me out and landed me in the ER. I was lucky...got away with just stitches all over my face and nothing broken, however, now I'm concerned about walking him. He is a very sweet, dead quiet horse and has never ever done anything like that before. My vet felt quite certain that he may have taken a longer than normal step, causing the ligament to lock up. When this happens the horse feels like they could fall and they panic. He suggested, again, cutting the ligament. I really don't want to jump into cutting the ligament. He seems fine and has not had any other "locking" incidents (that I'm aware of). I tripled the size of his paddock to include some hills and hope that more exercise on his own will help. I read that as he continues to grow and the bone lengthens the ligament will stop slipping off and locking the leg. Some articles suggest blistering or making tiny cuts in the ligament and it will shorten as it heals. He is young and I want him to be my little dressage pony someday and am really worried about cutting ligaments in his hocks. I have to do something though...at this point I'm not riding or walking him because I'm afraid wither he or I could get hurt. Any thoughts or experiences that anyone can share will really help me in this tough decision making process.
I have this issue with my 3 (will be 4 in Feb.) yr old OTTB. He has been off the track for a little over 3 months and after I got him he had on/off issues, but not really often... maybe just a few times a month and was always sound on it. Two days ago his leg locked up again and he was a little off on it, but today he was better. I am going to have to call the vet out.
I have read/heard that hill work and poles (both ground and raised) help. Since he is still pretty fresh off the track, he is still learning what SLOW gaits mean, and I have been utilizing lunging for that and have gone back to riding in a smaller arena due to his speed and taking off with me once at a full gallop. I was always concerned with keeping a young horse on a "circle" like that, but more so now that his leg is still causing issues. Lunging helps with his speed and gets some of his energy out on a semi-regular basis so I can ride and not have a super hyped up bright green baby under me. I can do poles in the arena, but the tiny little hills we have are in the open jump field, so can't do those under saddle yet.
I was searching online and these forums for info on this, so look forward to reading everybody's responses...
Had a mare that had that as coming 2 yr old. Her's never completely locked up she could generally drag her toe forward enough then it would release vet said she should outgrow & she did with a month or 2.
Don't cut anything just yet!!!!!!!
My standie was retired before even racing due to that, but nobody knew what was wring, he just wasn't going fast. After being in paddock for a couple of months without work( had a lot of growing to do), he locked up the first time. So I went researching.
First thing suggested was TRIMMING THE HIND FEET SQUARE TOE AND LEAVE A BIT MORE HEEL.
Idea behind it is earlier breakover will avoid the full stretch and stop the ligament from getting over the patella and hooked. So farrier did this and horse does not lock up for the entire time between trims, in his case 6 weeks. If I left him longer, he'd lock up
Same problem with a Gipsy Cob, 4 years old. He never locked up entirely but he is usually limping on his right hind leg. The vet told us that we should strengthen his muscles to help him and work him daily if possible. We discovered that work is indeed helping him. He is a bit off when he starts and then he doesn't have a problem. If we work him daily he is better than if we work him occasionally. Now because of the snow/ice we can't work him as much as needed so he is limping again. Another great exercise is riding cavaletties as much as possible. Here you can see the limping that I'm talking about.
I so glad that some folks responded. We are dealing with ice/snow here too, which makes excercise hard. Plus, after he exploded the last time it locked Im anxious about hand walking or riding him. The vet suggested a long long lounge and for me to run a big circle in the middle so that he stays mostly on the rail...so as soon as the snow melts I will try that. I also hope to talk to CSU vets, since I finally have a day off work :)
Interesting comment about the hind hoof trimming, but it makes perfect sense. I will have my farrier try that. So far, he doesnt seem lame or sore and I have not seen it lock up...so maybe its a phase? Also, ****edEvans, I love you Vanner!!!! SO beautiful! I will try ot figure out how to post a photo of mine. :)
@ Michelle3 : Beautiful horse you have too. The one that I showed you is not mine, I just work with him. It's strange to hear that your Gipsy is so full of energy.. Rafael is very mellow and such a sweetheart that you wouldn't guess he's a 4 year old stallion. Walking him in hand is a pain only if I ask him to trot :)). Being such a lazy one he prefers to walk. Good idea with lounging him in a big circle, it's a good way of exercising him. When I'm to lazy I just let him free in the arena and make him move with the whip. He knows what to do and he is very good with voice commands so I can make him walk on the rail at whatever speed is needed. It's like free lounging him but because we don't have a round pen I free lounge him in the arena on the rail. It's great because the space is bigger and he doesn't have to walk on a circle. Good luck.