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Re: Locking fetlock joint

I have a yearling that has exactly the problem you describe.  He locks his
hind leg, sometimes drags it, and sometimes lifts it a little too high to be
right.  Then sometimes doesn't do it at all (it's usually worst in the
morning after he "wakes up").   My vet diagnosed it as a patella problem -
"upward fixation of the patella" to be exact.  On my colt, you can put your
hand on his patella, back him up, and you will feel it pop into the right
place.  The vet came out three times to see my colt's problem - and of
course he never had it when she was there.  I finally got a video of him
doing it.  :-)  Apparently, there are ligaments or tendons or sometin' that
horses can lock into place voluntarily - they do it when they are sleeping
or resting - and my horse is not able to unlock it properly.  The diagnosis
for him is lots of pasture time with hills, and if he doesn't heal up by
himself with strengthening, then there is a 10 minute surgery that can be
done in the vet's parking lot to clip a tiny bit of the offending tendon (or
ligament or whatever that thing is) that will resolve the problem and leave
me with a fully functional horse.  Backing him up does reliably unlock the
patella.  That's part of why the vet couldn't find it - every time before
the vet got there, I caught him, lead him, fly sprayed him, cleaned his
feet, and backed him up (the usual yearling routine).  We will consider
surgery when he is either a late two or as a three year old if this still
troubles him.

Vet said my horse isn't in pain, his knee just feels funny to him.  Like if
you had a knee that went in and out but didn't really hurt.  As a result,
he's not as active as he would otherwise be (doesn't run around pasture
much).  However, there's no swelling, heat, and he never looks like he has
any pain at all.

Hope that's what's up with your friend's mare.  Other possibilities are OCD,
EPM, and a host of more serious problems.  Those things are less likely to
be as intermittent as the patella problem I described above, though.

There was someone on this alias (or maybe the CTR alias?) that told me about
having seeing problem in a couple of mustang horses and having great results
with surgery.

Wish your friend best of luck for me - I know how scary and frightening it
can be not being able to diagnose intermittent lameness.

Good thing I can type so fast since I type SO MUCH...

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, August 02, 1999 6:16 PM
Subject: RC: Locking fetlock joint

> I am writing this for a friend in an attempt to get her some help with her
> horse.  She has a 6-7 year old mustang mare that she has owned since the
> of 18 months.  The mare has been well cared for since then with plenty of
> turn out in a pasture of a few acres.  The mare foaled 8 months ago and
> separating the two, the owner began a program of LSD with the thought of
> attempting a LD at the end of the year.  The mare was used throughout her
> pregnancy and was ponied at the end to maintain light conditioning.  She
> then ridden lightly while ponying the foal.
> The problems started about a month ago when my friend took her mare from
> stall to go for a ride.  The mare's right hindfoot was dragging.  I
> to witness this recently and it appears that the fetlock joint is locking
> after the hoof leaves the ground and is in its forward arc, causing the
> to drop and the toe to drag into the ground.  She then picks the leg up
> high and stiff in order to clear the ground with her hoof.
> She did have the horse evaluated by Gilbert Equine Hospital but, of
> the mare was not showing these symptoms when she was there.  They
> x-rays (of both legs for comparison) and felt the mare might have some
> of muscle strain.  She was sent home with instructions for plenty of
> and cool-down.  Also to walk some gentle hills to strengthen the area.
> Just wanted to see if anyone else has experienced this and has any
> Thanks for your help.
> Lee and Boogie, Bravo and Kaci (who is featured on page 16 of the new
> End catalog - what a cutie).
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