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Old 04-06-2008, 02:47 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Texas
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Fusing hocks?

My farrier came out the other day and, after trimming Dixie's back hooves, said that it looked like her hocks are fusing. She's only nine years old and has never had any real problems with her legs. My question is: If they are fusing, how will it affect her? Will she be completely un-ridable, good for light riding, or ....? Is there anything I can put her on (supplements, whatever) to help her? I know older horses sometimes get this, but is it normal for a 9 year old?

I will be taking her to the vet sometime in the next two weeks to get x-rays done. So I don't know for sure that they are fusing, but I want to be prepared in case they are.
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Old 04-06-2008, 03:06 PM   #2
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Well I hope I can provide good news--the hock has several rows of bones and many joints in it, and th ones that like to fuse (ankylose) are low-motion joints that barely impact the horse's movement at all. Usually. There's always a possibility to affect other joints which is why your vet's radiographs will be very valuable in telling you exactly what's going on, but for many horses, once they get over the discomfort of the actual fusion process (bone-on-bone=ouchy), they are just fine. Surgery (facilitated ankylosis or arthrodesis) can help speed the process up and there's things you can do to manage the discomfort but keeping the horse moving is very important to continuing the fusing process. So, chin up, don't panic, in all likelihood your horse will do just fine--those x-rays will tell your vet the most appropriate course of action and what to expect.
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Old 04-07-2008, 09:55 AM   #3
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My friend's 6 year old Arab just had a bone scan and full workup and they came to the same thing. It's the lower hock bones and it shouldn't do anything to him. He does endurance and they said he'd be fine. He is getting Adequan just to be on the safe side but otherwise, he's fine.

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Old 04-07-2008, 10:26 AM   #4
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Does your farrier have x-ray vision?

Bone spavin in the hocks is the most common reason for the lower joints fusing. Bone Spavin is common in Quarter horses, particularly reining and cutting horses. Sometimes you can see a bump from the outside, but usually you can only see it as degeneration of the space between the bones of the lower hock joint when you x-ray.

Often a horse with bone spavin is sound, but adequan injections can help keep them sound. Once the horse goes lame on the hocks, the best idea is to work them to irritate the area which will encourage the hocks to fuse. Once they fuse they are usually no longer an issue. the fusion will happen faster if you DON'T treat them with bute or other anti-inflamitories.

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Old 04-08-2008, 08:29 PM   #5
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Fusing is a natural process. Unless you are having lameness problems no need to worry.

One of my stallions (he's now 11) started getting lame as a 3 yr old. We took him to Columbia (largest vet/teaching hospital in MO) they said he had an injury as a baby - when he was only a few days old. They could tell this by the growth plates in his hocks. The bones are soft at birth and harden after the first week...The vets assured me it was most likely because this colt had been born in March and probly got to running or playing too hard on frozen ground. (you know how babies like to zip around when they find out they can) They gave him injections in the hock joints to help him, said to rest him a week then back to normal training. They said that after his hocks fused he would no longer have any problems. The fusing would naturally take care of itself and make the hock stronger. He has not been lame since the shots several years ago.
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