Hock Injections? All Answers Welcome

Last post 12-09-2010 1:24 PM by BoyleHeightsKid. 18 replies.
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  • 10-07-2010 2:51 PM

    Hock Injections? All Answers Welcome

    I'm kind of confused about hock injections, and I would like to learn more about them:

    What are they?  What drug are they composed of?  Are they bad/good (I've heard it both ways)?  If bad, why?  Do they have side effects?  If so, what side effects, and what are the chances of getting them?  What can be done to keep from having to give a horse a hock injection (other than slide very little)?

    Basically, if you know something about hock injections or you've had experience with them, I'd like to know!  Also if you know of any veterinary papers or the like that I can read about them, I would be happy for you to post a link to them.

    Thanks!

    "99.9% of horse problems come from either a lack of respect or fear--or both." ~Clinton Anderson
  • 10-08-2010 10:36 AM In reply to

    Re: Hock Injections? All Answers Welcome

    Joint injections are usually done after xrays are taken, and the vet decides they are necessary.  They are just that, injections directly into the hock or joint.  Also, if the synovial fluid in the joint has lost it's lubricating ability, the injections can be very helpful. 

    Personally I think they can be very beneficial, IF your horse really needs them.  BUT, any time you intrude on a joint capsule you risk the chance of infection. Infection in a joint can lead to very early retirement, so be sure your vet knows what he's/she's doing.

    Also they are very costly (to me anyway) and once started must be continued to be effective.  I certainly would not recommend them if you have not tried other options such as supplements (given consistently) first. 

    How old is the horse and what is his work load?

  • 10-08-2010 1:46 PM In reply to

    Re: Hock Injections? All Answers Welcome

    Well, I was just wondering because I've got a two-year-old that I will probably begin training for reining next year, and I've heard everyone saying how sliding stops are so hard on the hocks and how all these reining horses need hock injections when they get older and how horrible it is and everything else.  I just wanted to get more information so I could be prepared. :)

    "99.9% of horse problems come from either a lack of respect or fear--or both." ~Clinton Anderson
  • 10-08-2010 2:02 PM In reply to

    Re: Hock Injections? All Answers Welcome

    As with everything you should always check with your vet first.  Each horse is individual, you can't really say "reining horses have to be injected" although that seems to be the latest fad.  And how old is "older"?  Lots of things to consider.

  • 10-09-2010 1:49 PM In reply to

    Re: Hock Injections? All Answers Welcome

    Yeah, I'm actually not sure how old "older" is.  I've mostly gotten these comments from English riders, who tell me that three year olds should not be used in reining because they won't be competitive in their golden years (assuming "golden years" means past eight-ten).  What is your opinion on reining on a three-year-old?  Should I wait until he's older to avoid hock problems, or is it okay?

    "99.9% of horse problems come from either a lack of respect or fear--or both." ~Clinton Anderson
  • 10-11-2010 6:11 AM In reply to

    Re: Hock Injections? All Answers Welcome

     Basically, when hocks (or any other joint) is injected, a needle is inserted into the joint (generally both the upper and lower hock joint are injected at the same time) and steroids, hyaluronic acid, or a mixture of both, are injected directly into the joint.  They treat arthritis or other loss of joint lubrication/inflammation.  Arthritis in a horse under 15 is premature and not a good thing. 

    It is not something to be taken lightly -- you are puncturing the joint capsule and every time you do so, you take on a risk of infection.  Infection in a joint can be the end of a horse's career or his life.  These things should only be done by a vet who is very experienced and careful.  Also, you can only jab a needle in there so many times before the joint calcifies.

    Unless there is a specific injury, a horse under 10 years old generally should not need hock injections -- unless they have been started too early and had joints damaged.  I know the QH people don't like to hear us "English people" saying they start their horses too early, but they do and you can't argue with the science, because there's plenty of it out there. 

    The injections definitely do help extend a horse's career when he gets to the point of needing help with joint lubrication.  The steroid brings down the arthritic inflammation and is like an "oil change" for the joints.  Solo got his first hock injections this February at 14  -- I have a suspicion he was started as two year old as he has had mild arthritis in his hocks since I bought him at age 10.     

    An injection will NOT fix a serious problem or a joint that is broken down.  Degeneration will continue once it has begun.  An injection will not undue damage once it has been inflicted.  They are also VERY expensive.  Just to do two hocks, you are looking at anywhere from $350-600, depending on your vet.  Like all other aspects of vet care, it is something which should be thoroughly thought through and prevented as long as possible!



    Solaris -- 16 hh Appendix Quarter Horse = MY DREAM COME TRUE!
    We Are Flying Solo
  • 10-11-2010 8:43 AM In reply to

    Re: Hock Injections? All Answers Welcome

    Okay, Solaris, thanks.  And is there any way to prevent hock problems, other than doing very little sliding stops and not starting the horse too early?

    "99.9% of horse problems come from either a lack of respect or fear--or both." ~Clinton Anderson
  • 10-11-2010 8:50 AM In reply to

    Re: Hock Injections? All Answers Welcome

     It's good to ask questions, by the way, I hope you don't take my post the wrong way, it's hard to convey tone online.  :-)

    I think it's all about management.  You avoid activities that stress the joints you are protecting until those joints are fit to perform the task asked of them.  If you are looking for a treatment or a wrap or something along those lines, no, such a thing does not exist.  I think the best thing you could do is exactly what you are doing -- educate yourself on how the joints work, how they develop and how they are stressed and then plan your horse's career to maximize the longevity of his body and your enjoyment of him.

    This is an EXCELLENT article I would strongly encourage you to read about how a horse's skeletal system develops.  Well worth it and very educational and well written.

     http://www.equinestudies.org/ranger_2008/ranger_piece_2008_pdf1.pdf

     



    Solaris -- 16 hh Appendix Quarter Horse = MY DREAM COME TRUE!
    We Are Flying Solo
  • 10-11-2010 9:02 AM In reply to

    Re: Hock Injections? All Answers Welcome

    Okay, thanks!!  I love reading!

    "99.9% of horse problems come from either a lack of respect or fear--or both." ~Clinton Anderson
  • 10-12-2010 9:03 AM In reply to

    Re: Hock Injections? All Answers Welcome

    RL-

    As has been said, actual hock injections are usually reserved for horses with existing hock problems..I personaly like to avoid them, unless the horse NEEDS it badly, as it makes me nervous injecting the joint directly. The only vet I trust to this is a leg vet in our area..he has a special piece of equipment that allows him to actually guide the needle in correctly, thus minimizing the risk of not hitting where it needs to be. I wont trust my horse's joints to a vet simply "eyeballing" it.

    An option I take advantage of is Legend. it comes in an IV form and given to a horse, it basicaly "goes where it is needed". When my now almost 19 year old mare was still reining, I gave her a Legends injection every year..this mare was started at 2 and campagned heavily..she retired 100% sound, at 18 years old this year and still gives beginner reining lessons. She never "needed" the injection, but it was preventitive maintenance..she wasnt younger anymore and I was asking alot of her..why would I not help her stay comfortable was my rationale. Feed thru suppliments are crap..and I was told this directly by an equine nutrionist..he said something like the Legend is cheaper in the longrun and you KNOW the medication is in the horse's system, where it needs to be.

    you will see some trainers take my approach, preventitive maintenance, on their younger horses in reining training. That is a personal choice and something I would discuss with my trainer, if I had issue with it.

    Reining is hard on a horse's joints..that is why we put plates on our horse's hind, to minimize the jarring their hocks gets.That is why reiners are so fanatical about perfect footing to work in. That is why there are many tools at our disposal to help joints and bodies remain healthy.. (like Game Ready for example). Reining horses are athletes..athletes work, physically..and their bodies may need help from time to time to remain in top form..

    There have recently been studies which show that starting a horse early (2) can actually be beneficial to bone density development..Animal Trust in England did a study which concluded that by 3 years old, all tendon and cartilidge development in the horse had stopped..changes after three turn degenerative versus adaptive.

    Dr. Nunamaker in New Bolton and Animal Trust in England are two that have done recent studies on this...The studies were done in conjunction with race horses..but the basic trend rings true..these studies say that, a properly started 2 year old can actually have greater tendon/cartilidge strength and bone density (and thus be less likely to be injured in the future) then his stablemate who was started after 3. you should be able to google and find the articles..Dr. Nunamaker's was on Bucked Shins I beleive.

    As with most things, there are many studies on what is "right" and "wrong"..the bottomline is, common sense should prevail..not every 2 year old is going to be a futurity horse..some do better to wait a year to be started. Some horses mentally dont hold up to training at 2, some simply dont mesh into the trainer's program (and beleive me, some trainer's programs are VERY hard..they ask alot of their young horses..)

    I dont post this to change your mind, just bring to light another area that has studies being performed that show perhaps there is a benefit of starting them young. (2). Time will tell and Im sure more studies are being done which will blow those already done out of the water..Remember, the world was flat back in the 1400's..:)



  • 10-12-2010 10:06 AM In reply to

    Re: Hock Injections? All Answers Welcome

     Coyotecreek is right in that concussive work does build bone density -- but you can do this in mature horses too.  I have an awesome vet book called "All Horse Systems Go" which details how concussion builds density over a period of time.  What those studies leave out though, is the damage done to all joints before bones are matured which occurs because growth plates all over the body do not FULLY close and ossify until the horse is closer to 4 or 5.



    Solaris -- 16 hh Appendix Quarter Horse = MY DREAM COME TRUE!
    We Are Flying Solo
  • 10-12-2010 10:55 AM In reply to

    Re: Hock Injections? All Answers Welcome

    Confused Hmm....okay, I'll have to do some studying.

    "99.9% of horse problems come from either a lack of respect or fear--or both." ~Clinton Anderson
  • 10-12-2010 11:36 AM In reply to

    Re: Hock Injections? All Answers Welcome

     Nancy Loving wrote that book and advocates long slow workouts..whereas the studies I mentioned advocate more intense, shorter workouts...both say they do the same thing...

    here is a copy, for anyone who cares to read it..about Dr. Nunamaker's study..it is actually quite interesting.

    http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=338

    towards the end, One of the trainers comments on how he hasnt had an increase in knee or ankle injuries (both joints) when implementing the short, intense works Dr. Nunamaker advocates...(knee and ankle being the joints most stressed in racehorse training)

    As I said, Im not trying to change anyone's minds on this..but there is no "right" and "wrong" answer regarding this..until there is a study that concludes 100%, beyond a doubt that one train of thought is right and the other is wrong, the debate will continue...and everyone will have to make their own INFORMEDBig Smile choice in the matter.

    Another article about a new study which is touching on joints and exercise..granted they dont say exactly how much exercise was imposed on said horses in the study..

    http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=16265

    and one more

    from this article

    http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=10101

    "Hocks are another young horse problem area. Baker says most hock problems tend to become chronic. "It's often a degenerative joint disease in the lower hock joints," Baker explains. "Even as early as yearlings, we see some degenerative arthritis in the bottom hock joints in some young horses. These (problems) should be searched out before the horse even goes into training so the trainer can be aware there's a potential problem. In stifles it's the same thing-- especially in reiners and cutters. There's a high probability of having an injury there. If you start out with subchondral (beneath the cartilage) bone cysts in the joint, or OCD (osteochondritis dissecans), you can expect to have lameness issues before the horse gets very far along in training." "

    "Conformation plays a big role in determining whether a horse will develop problems, and which problems he will develop. Splints, for instance, are most common in young horses that have offset cannon bones (bench knees), putting more stress on the inside splint bone. "A horse that's toed out may also get a splints if he interferes, with the foot hitting the splint bone on the opposite leg," says Baker.

    "One thing we see in cutters and reiners are back problems such as lumbar muscle strains," Baker continues. "I think this is seen most often in young horses that have the ability to stop hard and back up and turn around. To treat those, you have to break the cycle of pain and tension by relieving the pressure and giving the horse a little rest. There are various ways, such as using anti-inflammatories, muscle injections, acupuncture, muscle relaxants, etc., to relieve the acute nature of this pain." "

    These are significant quotes, as I feel they address some aspects to consider when you do start a young horse...

    I know I looked at a yearling once..phenomenal lines..she ended up being diagnosed with OCD..could I have maintained her through competition? who knows, but I didnt want to..that is why I feel its important to have young animals throughly checked out if you are putting out the big bucks for them or are planning to invest alot of time and money into their training...or you will end in heartbreak due to their pre-exisiting condition.

    bottomline is, you do whats best for you and your horse..:)



  • 10-12-2010 12:48 PM In reply to

    Re: Hock Injections? All Answers Welcome

    Most info has already been mentioned here. I had to get my Barrel gelding injected in the hocks for $100 per joint every 3-5 months. It was determined when the vet did an x-ray and then pulled fluid and it came out like glue instead of water. We also added MSM/Gluco to his diet and found that some brands worked better than others and of course, he responded best to the most expensive brand. I think he also had bad hips and when the vet started talking about injecting the hips, I turned my gelding into a pasture ornament at the age of about 14 yrs. He has been doing great in the pasture where he is turned out almost 24x7. The constant joint movement and a decent diet helped more than injections, I think. I ride him for pleasure on the property now and he can still pull off a roll-back, spin or a tight barrel turn on cue and doesn't flinch or comes up sore. 

    I think the best preventative is keeping your horse in good shape, on a good diet and turned out as much as possible to make sure the joints move to create fluids. Resting (in stalls all day) causes rusting and arthritis and is just as bad as doing too much work. I know a lot of performance horse owners have to end up injecting, regardless but the longer you can avoid the cost, hassle and inconvenience and risk for your horse, the better.
    Patricia
  • 10-13-2010 8:51 AM In reply to

    Re: Hock Injections? All Answers Welcome

    Okay, thanks Faylaricia and Coyote Creek.  Faylaricia: what is your opinion on starting a two-year-old?

    "99.9% of horse problems come from either a lack of respect or fear--or both." ~Clinton Anderson

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