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Hey all,

My big 7 y.o. palomino walking horse has had a problem with his stifles locking up since he was a colt. Some vets I've spoken to have suggested riding him in hills and building up the muscle around that joint and some vets have suggested surgery. Most of my riding is in hills and he does fine. It's when I take a couple of weeks (or more) off that he seems lock up more. Any ideas? Has anyone out there dealt with this before? Anyone had the ligament split or severed or blistered as a treatment? Just trying to decide what to do. I have read all kinds of positives and negatives to the surgery. More positives though.

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Hi!  I just got back from the vet today with the same problem.  The vet has suggested blistering, to start with.  As well as hill work 4 times a week at a walk or gait only. This blistering thing is new to me, but I trust my vet, so I guess we'll give it a try and hopefully it will correct it.   My horse was ridden by a child and probably not consistantly, before I bought him,  which could be half his problem.  He has weak muscle tone.  Hill work will do wonders for him.

I hope this helps.  Best of Luck with your horse!


My former trail partner a foundation TWH had a locking stifle and I had the surgical release done on both hind legs at the reccomendation of my vet who I have a lot of faith in.  It was a simple surgery done with a local anesthetic and I was told to excerise him daily following the procedure.  He did fine after that and I never had the problem again although my vet told me occaisionally it has to be repeated if the ligament reconnects.  Good luck.  Hope whatever you do is as effective and successful.

Is there a pasture, that you can put him on, with a hill? Your's is flat.
I have had a couple of them that do that, we had them clipped (severed).  If you provide regular exercise post procedure, the recovery is quick. 

Thanks all. I'm probably going to talk to a vet again about surgery. Ron, I ride him so much in the hills that he should be stronger? I think that ligament or tendon is stretched. He is soooo loose in the back end. His mama is built like a tank (more like a quarter horse). Wish he'd gotten those genetics. Again, thank you who replied and wished us well  ~~      />


I have had to deal with this in two horses I've owned.  One I currently own and I mainly try and ride him and keep him out in the field instead of stalled so he can move around.  In his case the vet said he had weak stifle muscles and if he was kept in shape it would be better for him. 


The other case was a mare I had.  Now both of these horses had/have very long and straight stifles/hing legs and thus makes them more apt to have this problem.  Anyway with the mare I did have the vet do the surgery, I watched and it was nothing to it really.  It did alter her gait somewhat and she was more swingy (pacy) afterwards.  She had a more severe case and was really dragging her back legs where my gelding I currently own he will just get his caught and stiffens up from time to time.  I've noticed changes in the weather also affect him. 


In looking back I prefer not to do surgery unless necessary, in the mares case I think it was necessary.  I had gotten several vet opinions with a wide variety of answers.  This type of surgery is relatively common in gaited horses.  I never heard of blistering a ligament but the one I had operated on they actually split/severed the ligament.  They made little slits in each back leg, pulled the muscle out and clipped it.  I would suggest if he is fine with riding to just do that for now and avoid the surgery.  When you are taking time off are you keeping the horse in a stall?  If so, keep him out instead.  If it was severe the surgery may be your best route, the only negative I could think of is it may change the horses gait somewhat.

Thanks Dusty. My gelding is pasture kept all the time. His right hind locks up most often, but one day I went out and both were locking! It looked awful, but...the next day he was moving fine, bucking and running around. So strange.
Injecting the stifles with the blistering agent (iodine) will toughen up the ligaments that hold the stifle in place. This works well with the hill work and backing up excersise.

a paddock with hills will help a lot while he is turned out.
a light blister (green palmolive soap) may help but generally rugged terrain in a paddock is better and easier


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