OK. My horse vetted with hock arthritis. We knew it would be an issue but I was assured it could be managed.
About 6 months after buying him he began to be uncomfortable --- quite obvious jumping (I am an eventer) and less obvious in the lower level dressage work he was doing. Assume it would have been very obvious if he was doing upper level work.
Injected. Yes, very clear improvement. Got even more clear (and certainly longer lasting) improvement by turning him out full time. I think this is the cheapest and kindest thing you can do for a horse with hock arthritis.
Since then (I've owned the horse for 9 years) we have injected his hocks no more often than once a year, sometimes less than that. He's had unrelated issues that have constrained his job much more than the hocks. It has been something that needs monitoring, and occasionally injecting, but it has not been limiting.
Similar advice as Asterix. Had 5 yr. old showing mild spavin and small ocd. Injected once and had 3-4 months of improved movement. Also switched to 24/7 turnout and I started trimming, also used Lubyrysin periodically.
Horse received other unrelated career ending injury and once or twice per year use Lubrysin for a couple months. Trim and turnout seems to help most.
While I certainly don't take inserting a needle into a joint capsule lightly, I view hock injections as fairly basic maintenance for horses of a certain age and/or workload. My 20yo TB came to me having raced and then evented; the prepurchase vet recommended hock injections based on what she saw, and my usual vet and trainer agreed. He was back to full work within a week and we saw a big difference within a couple of weeks. He moved more comfortably and freely forward, and some of the slight unevenness we noticed at times went away. I'll happily keep injecting his hocks on an as-needed basis indefinitely.
I agree with Cat and would consider hock injections a maintenance procedure. Most sport horse vets do quite a lot of them and the incidence of complications is pretty rare, although of course there is always some risk when you put a needle in a joint. My older horse had 3 rounds of injections, about 6 months apart, when his hocks were fusing; they helped him be much more comfortable and once he fused, he never needed them again. (He's in his mid 20's now and still going strong.) My younger horse, now 12, had a single round of hock injections done about 3/4 of the way through a fairly demanding show schedule when I was doing the equitation. He has some changes in his left hock that were starting to bother him a bit, and it was showing up as a sticky lead change and a bit of stiffness when he first came out of the stall. The injections fixed both issues and he's been comfortable ever since; he's now on more of a fitness program and jumping a lot less, so I doubt they will need to be repeated.
********** We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
It did NOT help with my 18 yo SWB mare - but then again vet and trainer said we needed to inject, I felt she needed chiro. After injecting both hocks no change, but after chiro adjustment she was good as new.
I think trainer couldn't believe a horse that age didn't need hock injections (I have had her since she was 2 years old so she has always been well taken care of).
I consider them maintenance too - of course, not all horses need them, but most horses develop some arthritis by the time they are 10 to 14 years old. So if they are working hard, why not help them out?
We started my horse on them when he was 11 - his synovial fluid was like water! It made a huge difference in his willingness to sit and collect - he went on to show to Grand Prix, so I'd consider it a success story.
I also don't take sticking a needle into a joint lightly - I grilled the vet about it before the first procedure. The vet who we use for injections is not our "regular barn vet" - it is a vet who specializes in performance horse procedures and evaulations - he probably does 50 every month all over the region.
I agree, not every horse needs injections - but many do if they are working hard and at a certain age. An experienced vet can easily tell if your horse has hock pain.
I had my 10 year old western horse injected over the summer. The difference is amazing. He went from lame and knuckling over in the back to a lope that is like riding in a luxury car. He's so happy now.
He'll be getting maintenance injections from now on. I never want him in pain again.
Thanks for the feedback. Horse is 2nd level 7yo. Although he's built uphill he has a fairly large front end. Sitting and collecting was getting difficult for him. Xrays last year showed minor changes both hocks. We waiting on injecting and used IM Glucosamine weekly. Recently I've noticed he was even more uncomfortable the more collected work we do. I kept an eye on him and it got to the point were I could not get him to pick up the right lead. When I would ask he would shift all weight to his inside fore leg. I also noticed when I had someone walk him away from me that instead of picking up the hind and putting it under him he would put it a little out to the side and twist it. I noticed the movement in his hock was a little double timing. (Hard to explain) Anyway vet decided to inject. Synovial fluid was watery on both lower hocks, upper hocks were greasy which I'm told is good.
I'm happy to see that most of you have seen major improvements. I'm hoping for a full and pain free recovery for my guy. I think I may have to rethink his job if he's having issues at 7 and 2nd level. Kind of makes me sad.
Last edited by KurPlexed; Nov. 14, 2012 at 07:33 PM.
Reason: ETA: Horse on 16hr a day turn out.
My horse never showed any signs of hock lameness, but at about age 13 he was moving shorter behind and was less willing to work into the bridle. I never had him x-rayed, but he was positive to hock flexions, equally on both sides. Vet said that was unusual, that they're usually worse one side or the other. I thereafter had him injected at approx. 6 month intervals through age 19 or so, by which time his hocks fused and we no longer needed to inject him. He did very well with the injections over the years and never had any complications. Late in his 20th year, he became lame behind. The hocks were fused, so that wasn't the issue. Sigh. Arthritic stifles. I tried stifle injections twice, but that's a much bigger joint, and it just wasn't working effectively - some improvement, but not enough. He was sound for walking trail rides and that was about it, so, unable to find a sponsor who just wanted laid back trail rides, I retired him.
My 21-yr-old mare gets hocks done about once a year. No obvious lameness, but she always seems more comfortable and willing to go forward afterwards. I started when she was about 16 and consider it routine maintenance. (She's still in full work, jumping & showing regularly.)
I had them done on my older TB mare a few times. They did help but in the end I decided that it was just time to switch jobs. She went from dressage to doing a few ACTHA competitions. She stays comfortable on 24/7 turnout, supplements and light trail rides.
I did them for the first time on my 10 yr old mare. She was showing resistance to wanting to canter under saddle, and she was also not developing a top line as she should have been. After several other therapies such as chiro/massage, supplements, diet changes, etc. I had a lameness evaluation preformed and we did blocks. Definitely in the hocks. The vet injected and upon doing so the fluid was like water with a bit of blood I gave her some time off and then started her back up very slowly. The difference in her top line, especially over her croup, even with very light work for the past couple of months is amazing! She's definitely using her hind leg much more under and I'm really glad I did the injections. We are using a maintenance of monthly Pentosan IM injections which also is helping her immensely. I will not hesitate to have her hocks done again if/when needed.
IRAP, I had it done as preventative on my 10-yr old PSG horse..wonderful and it doesnt destroy the cartilage as steroids do. It is expensive but worth the investment IRAP stands for Interleukin1 Receptor Antagonist Protein and is isolated from the horse's own blood, their own natural anti-inflammation