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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would like some input. My OTTB gelding is 14. He's had known stifle issues for the past four years I've owned him. He's on daily Equioxx, and seems somewhat stable physically, not sound for galloping or heavy work but he goes on easy trail rides and seems fine.

Seeing photos of other horses on the forum, I have considered he might have DSLD and that is the cause of his stifle issues. Would you have the vet check him for it, or would you wait to see more signs of lameness or deterioration? Sometimes I think if he had DSLD I would be seeing more physical changes than I've seen so far.

He seems to be genetically very similar to his sire and grandsire. Here is my horse:
These two photos are from when I first got him, and two years later. Hopefully you can see his hind end angulation.
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Here he is recently: He's very straight in the hind, but I'm not sure that he has really changed in four years. His pasterns don't seem like they have dropped either. Do you think this is just his conformation and I would be seeing more changes if he had DSLD? I don't feel lumpiness or heat over his leg tendons.
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For comparison, here is his grandsire Mr. Prospector, known for soundness problems.


As you may know, this post-legged horse was bred heavily in the TB industry. He was retired to stud at age 4 with a sesamoid fracture.


My horse's sire was E. Dubai. At least as post legged as Mr. Prospector. I think they put his leg back in the photos to make it look more angled. E. Dubai was entered in the Derby but did not start, and he ran in the Breeder's Cup classic and was 11th. I can't find information on whether he had soundness issues. He was also retired at age 4 to stud.


So should I assume my gelding is just post-legged from his genes, and not worry about DSLD? Or should I ask the vet to do ultrasound and etc to make sure?
 

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He does seem rather posty-legged in the rear there, but he doesn’t look like he has dropped pasterns. Are you noticing any issues on the front end or just focusing on the hinds?

I have no idea regarding ultrasounds, since my mare got x-rays for her initial exam upon being entered into the Davis DSLD study. It probably wouldn’t hurt to do the nuchal branch test if DSLD was something you’re really worried about. They’ll take a little plug of tendon or whatever it is out of the nuchal branch at the top of the neck. I’ve had one vet tell me it doesn’t really give any evidence of DSLD, but my vet did it for my mare (and it didn’t cost me anything so I was like “suuuuuuure”)

For what it’s worth, here’s my mare. She’s presumably got it on the front legs because her fetlock and pastern are kind of fused (DSLD horses get little tiny micro fractures and calcium buildup) but her hind legs work great and allow her to get up and down which is probably why she’s made it for 4 years after her initial exam. Of course the only way we’re going to know for sure if she has DSLD is the post-exam and she doesn’t seem in any hurry to get to that.

You can kind of see the angle of her front pasterns. She’s not really post-legged in the rear, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see changes over time. She’s been really lucky that she’s out 24/7, gets light exercise and is super retired.

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
does it show up in all pasterns, or just the rear, or just the front?
Apparently it is a systemic disease, but if my horse has it the hind end seems to be mainly affected. Horses seem to be mainly affected on the front, hind, or all four legs, but changes can be seen throughout the body post mortem. Horses can have dropped pasterns or lose the angles so they are very upright.

@CaliforniaDreaming, thanks, that info is helpful. My friend's horse was diagnosed by ultrasound after he had a suspensory injury that was followed by another one on the opposite hind leg. She still rides him lightly, because the vet felt that his disease was not progressing fast and he does not seem to have chronic pain or lameness. But he had changes in both hind legs.
 

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@gottatrot Glad to have been able to share some information. Another thing to consider, does he seem particularly sensitive towards flies/allergies/etc? Some of my reading indicated that DSLD horses can be particularly bothered about flies. My mare needs to be covered most of the time during the summer because she will break out in hives.
 

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That would be about the age it starts to show up in horses. Would be interesting to see if there is any information out there about his sire and grandsire and whether they developed it or if there are siblings with it.

It looks to me like just caught standing oddly but I'd have it checked out.
 

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Following to learn. I have no experience with this, though my neighbor's mare has DSLD (hers was apparent as soon as we saw the horse and vet has advised no riding for this mare). Yours does not look to have dropped pasterns, but again, I don't know much about this.
 

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I would get the horse checked now so you know he has, he doesn't have but is predisposed to it arriving since his bloodline is known for it.
If I could stall or slow the decline of use I would.
I might also consider if there was another study or a study underway with additional animals being added and the previous animals what was found is being tried on the later entrants....trying to buy time is what I would seriously be looking to do..
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I have a 21-22 year old Arabian that has been recently diagnosed with DSLD. DSLD is a ligament deterioration issue in the back legs. It happens most frequently in gaited horses, but can happen on any breed. It was about 3 years ago that Ibn began showing signs that there was something wrong in one of his back legs. I could feel it mostly when we trotted, a little dip in his rump that didn't feel right. When he was doing this he was also reluctant to canter. But other times, he was fine, no rump dip in his trot, no reluctance to canter. Ove those three years, I took him to a few vets and they couldn't find anything wrong. They suggested giving him Phenylbutazone, which most often worked, but not always. The straw that broke the camel's back was when on one ride Ibn began to exhibit the rump dip at a walk. It didn't bother his gate speed; he was still walking at his normal 3 mph. But it bothered me. So I took him to the best horse vet I know, which I avoid because he has no interest in saving his patients money. Bottom line is Ibn is being treated with shots of Pentosan. So far it seems to be working, although I no longer work Ibn hard. DSLD is progressive and irreversible. Good luck with your horse.
 

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This is another one of those things I’ve never come across. From what I’ve learned on here though, listening to other people do conformations, whatever I have learned to look for I thought I could see evidently in picture two. So, I don’t know if I’m not looking for the right thing, or if in conformation one would say to avoid him because he may end up with dsld.

I probably would get him checked next time the vet was coming through, or maybe before if it was bothering me.
 

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Here are pretty good sites for information on DSLD.


 

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It’s inclined to be hereditary so worth the test if it’s in his bloodline.

Lyme disease, that is untreated because the horse didn’t show any immediate symptoms, can cause damage to ligaments that will eventually result in something that looks very similar.
One of my mares was affected by it.
 

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My Tico was diagnosed with it 10 years ago. The vet said he might succumb in 2 months or 2 years, or maybe never be affected by it. Tico is 27 now and still quite sound. My daughter in the picture is now 20. The vet told me, DSLD is very unpredictable.

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It is unknown how DSLD is inherited. If your horse has it, it is still in the early stages.

Horses can still live a long life, even if it does develop. It does eventually progress. I had my old mare put down at age 28.

I have seen a horse, out of a mare with DSLD, go on to compete in eventing, and that horse appears to be non affected. If it's inherited as a dominant trait, it's 50% likely offspring will be affected. If it's inherited in a recessive manner, the likelihood of having an affected horse is much lower.

There's really nothing you can do about it, if it develops. Other than effective pain management and maximizing turnout, reducing strenuous exercise, or retiring the horse. Jiagulan is claimed to help, but I didn't see any difference and I could not find any evidence to support using it.

Some exercise is helpful for these horses, just don't overdo it. I would not fully retire your horse until it is clear that the horse is uncomfortable. My mare gave many small children their first rides, even after her diagnosis. It is helpful for these horses to have a job and a purpose.
 
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