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I have recently started part loaning a horse and noticed that he LOTS more flexion in his fetlocks than I’ve witnessed before. The owner says that this has always been the case and is down to his confirmation; same owner for 7 years and old pictures and videos back this up, so it is not something new. His fetlocks aren’t dropped when stood but when working the flexion is beyond anything I’ve witnessed before. I know this can indeed happen during intense activity but this happens to said horse in trot. I am concerned about the pressure this must be causing/ in worst circumstances that it could even be DSLD. There isn’t any swelling/ heat in fetlocks and horse not lame. Any advice please?
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Hard to see in the photo but which feet are affected? That may be relevant to pondering DSLD (quote below).

That said, I would note that the joy (and in fact the main advantage) of part-boarding is that you don’t have to be responsible for health issues and vets etc. I would say look into a bit and see what people on this forum say then talk to the owner, and then choose your next steps based on their response and what comes of it. It sounds like the owner is not inclined to see anything wrong and get a vet involved, and if your part-loan situation is a typical one where you pay a set fee per month for a negotiated number of rides, it’s not your role to proceed without the owner’s support.

It definitely looks odd and probably isn’t sustainable for the horse to be trotting in that position and canter may be a no go. My worry if I were part-boarding this horse would be that the horse would be injured while riding and if he trips or goes down in the front I could be hurt as well or held responsible if he goes lame.

I would look for another horse to part-board if it were me (unless the owner was my friend or I was somehow more connected, even then I might just give support from the sidelines and find a horse I could ride without worrying).

“DSLD is unique in that it has a bilateral distribution. This means that both forelimbs, both hindlimbs or all four limbs are affected. DSLD horses will be severely lame on affected limbs after a fetlock flexion test and will be noticeably painful on palpation of the suspensory ligament and its branches. The suspensory will also feel harder and thicker than normal, and the area may be hot or swollen. Ultrasound imaging will show visible changes to the suspensory ligament and its branches.”
 

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I'm assuming that you have a part-loan agreement with the owner. A vet check would be the next step. If the agreement says you're both responsible for health and costs, you'll need to talk it over with the owner. If health has been retained by the owner, you'll need to persuade them that a professional opinion is needed about long-term soundness. Could be a tough chat if they aren't concerned, blame it on confirmation and there's no other symptoms.
 
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As DSLD advances the horse becomes straight through the hocks. Because he has flexion in his hocks as well- it's possible this is normal for that particular horse. However DSLD starts very gradually and slowly progresses so if it is DSLD the horse will eventually get worse.
 

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We're not vets, but I think most people would be concerned about DSLD. Obviously, off of just one picture, nobody could or should say that the horse is affected. It may indeed just be that horse's conformation but I think in the long haul, the results will end up the same, eventually the horse won't be able to sustain that kind of over flexion and it will cause problems even if he's moving ok now.

I know that if I were going to look at that horse to buy, I would pass and keep right on looking. As the lessee you probably don't have the option to call out the vet and if the owner can't or won't, your only option would be to find another horse to lease or just keep riding this one until something makes him unridable.
 

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Our gelding always had straight hocks/stifles and low hind pasterns. He did ok for 9 years on light riding before being diagnosed with DSLD. It’s a horrid disease, if there is concern perhaps this horse can be ultrasounded in the suspensory branches. Our horse was never lame or puffy until he turned 15, then diagnosed via multiple
imaging studies over this last summer. Also should be noted he was not ridden until he was 7.

If it helps, two recent pics that are very characteristic of early(ish) stage disease. Worse in right hind but both fetlocks show damaged tendons and swelling. It is low even standing/resting and walking, which I think is a warning flag.

Horse Working animal Liver Fawn Terrestrial animal

Horse Working animal Wood Landscape Tints and shades
 
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