Monday, January 28, 2013

Sticky Stifles.

Stifles have been the bane of Bobby's existance from day one. When I refer to hind end issues in Bobby, this is what I'm refering to. His owner while racing even emailed me after seeing some of his jumping pictures that he was blown away I could get the horse to jump at all, his hind end was such a disaster.

The counter cantering, the swapping behind, the occasional baby bucks--all hind end issues. All stifle issues.

Jog him out, put him on a line, I doubt you'd notice a lameness. It's more feeling that tiny bit of stick when you're looking for it when riding, and knowing his past history of weakness, connecting the "misbehavior" to the pain in the stifles. (That doesn't mean it doesn't still frustrate me. I am human.)

It's not an injury. It's a strength issue brought on by his shoddy conformation. Time off apparently compounds the problem, and I've obviously already made the decision that in place of time off this November, we'll just stick with hacking to maintain motion and booty work. Once fit, there are no problems.

I know the tricks to building up his strength. Ground poles, hill work, and rein-backs. I have the Equine Fitness book with the stifle strengthening exercises. Come spring, I feel pretty confident he'll be strong enough again that these issues will be either nonexistant, or much, much less of a problem.

However, I'm kind of up in airs on weather or not I want to do more for him. The work is only going to get harder from here on out, and the hind end is really going to have to start carrying its weight this year. He's a coming eight year old. He's never been on a joint supplement, and I've never had him injected. Can you even inject a stifle? I'm a bit of a sceptic when it comes to joint supps, especially since I am also poor (and currently paying for hoof and ulcer supplements). I did have Red on SmartTendon and it absolutely helped him maintain his soundness.


Any thoughts from you guys? Any supplements you'd swear by? Any injection stories?

I feel bad making him work through the pain, but building strength is the only thing that I know will take care of it.


  1. Don't inject!!

    Recovery Eq. Do a month, guarantee you will see a result in 2 weeks. The stuff really is amazing. I have known several success stories, and had great results myself.

  2. Hill work. I have that book and its very cool. Building up the hind end helped strengthen my horses weak stifles.

  3. I also have a horse with sticky stifles. If he's not in work five to six days a week, I notice it. Never lame, but I can just feel that little "hitch" that he's eventually able to work through. Like you, I'm also very skeptical about supplements, but I do have him on one. I have him on Smartflex III Resilience and he does seem to warm up faster, and not have any soreness after a tough ride. I've tried Cosequin and a few other joint supplements, and if joint supplements really do anything, this seems to be the only one that's done anything for my guy. I also have him on DMG which is supposed to help sore muscles/recovery rate. But I really think that the best thing is consistent and correct work...LOTS of hills, lots of poles, lot of cavaletti. My vet gave me an exercise that is supposed to help strengthen the stifles: set three poles up, the distance you'd normally ride them and approach them at an angle and then come back over them in the other direction, basically figure eight back and forth over the poles. I don't think I'd inject until my horse was noticeably in pain and unable to perform.

  4. My pony had stifle issues and I did ridiculous amounts of those strengthening exercises and it ABSOUTELY helped.

    I fully believe if a horse has to be injected to be sound he needs to be retired. I will never again competitively ride a horse that needs injections every other month to be comfortable. Its just not fair to them, IMO.

    The same horse with stifle issues also got arthritis in his hocks at age 17 and it only got worse. (horrid conformation haha) I injected him twice at age 17, said enough, and then retired him to a home where only novice riders rode him.

    Not saying you should do that, thats just how I will always be. If yankee starts needing injections he will immediately be retired.

    AS for supps, I SWORE by Cosequin for the pony. Yankee gets smartpak maintenance and I LOVE both products. COS is a little overpriced and you can always comparison shop on smartpak since they make it easy to search out ingredients.

    I would just keep up with the exercises and ad a supp :D

  5. Long warm ups, cool downs, and lots of walking tough hill work.

  6. I don't have a horse with stifle issues, but I know exactly what you mean about just a little "stick" in their normal gait.

    I've had Moe since he was 8, and he just turned 18. He's had the last four years off (he and I were living in different states), but when I finally started working him again last year, he wasn't lame, but he had the tiniest hitch in his giddy-up. I'm not sure I would have noticed it at all if I hadn't known him so well.

    Anyway. I started him on MSM and saw immediate improvement. He's not stiff or sore and the stickiness in his gait is totally gone.

    Good luck finding something that fits your needs!!

  7. I feel you on the $ issue. You definitely can't do everything (at least I can't) and it is hard to decide what to focus the few extra dollars we have on. No experience with stifle issues (yet!), but fitness is free and maybe there are other strategies to try.

  8. I think hill work is the best idea, I don't like injects though so i am a bit baised

  9. I like the idea of fitness work to help his own body build up the strength he needs. I'll be curious to see how it helps as Laz is a fatty boom batty and needs more fun exercises too! :)

  10. Hill work is what my vet recommended. Then we did a trial of IV Polyglycan and when he still needed more support we ended up injecting his stifles.

    My vet swears by Tandem and Houston is about to start on it here this month. I think a 3 month supply is just over $100 but I am not 100% on that.

    Good luck. Sounds like you have explored your options :)

  11. I didn't have much success with either injections or Adequan. I really wanted both to work.

    For Archie, and I completely get that every horse is different, chiro work and exercise has been the most beneficial. He gets SmartFlex Senior (which I recommend to non-senior horses, too) to help with the random ouchies. And he's only in a stall to eat, which helps with the arthritis.

  12. I have no advice that hasn't already been given.. hopefully you can find something that works for you and Mr Booby!

  13. Stifles can in fact be injected, but it's going to help more with inflammation in the joint (from arthritis, etc) than it will with an overall stifle weakness.

    I have my horse on Cosequin ASU and I'm happy with it. Unfortunately when it comes to joint supplements I don't think the cheap versions really do much good and you get what you pay for. =-( The bonus would be that it would help all of his joints, not just his stifles.

  14. I have a 4yr old Standardbred mare who has had sticky stifles for a year. I had the tendon splitting operation done about 3 weeks ago, but as yet, no improvement. I am keeping a diary of her progress, or not, on my blog if anyone is interested.


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