Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2014 >Daily Dispatch #279

October 19, 2014: Horsepital

Horsepital. My Grandma Guinan (who was from Boston) used to put her rs where they did not belong, the word horsepital being a good example. The word came into my head this morning, as we had yet another equine medical issue on our hands. Since she was six months old, Hrimmi has had upward fixation of the patella – defined, this is when the patella, or kneecap, goes off its two ligament track, and locks up. When this happens, the horse’s leg stiffens – they then drag their leg behind them, the hoof in question scraping the ground.

We don’t know what causes this with Hrimmi. It’s intermittent – haven’t seen this happen in a long time. I can only speculate as to what triggers this when it occurs. This morning I let Raudi and Tinni out of the enclosure so that I could clean the front area, and I put hay out for all three horses. Raudi and Tinni bounded out of the gate, past me. Hrimmi, who was much further back, raced to catch up with her herd mates. As she approached the gate, I noticed that she was dragging her right leg behind her. I called out to Pete, who was up in the cabin, making breakfast. When, finally, he appeared, I’d put Hrimmi’s halter on her. I lead the filly, and Pete repeatedly pushed on the patella, which put it back in place. We then lead her back in the direction of the pen. Repeatedly, it popped out of place, and repeatedly Pete popped it back in place.

We put Hrimmi next to Raudi, who was eating her fill. Hrimmi began doing the same. We then went up to the house in order to eat our own breakfast. After breakfast, we took her for a walk around the loop. As Pete noted, in the past, the patella stayed in place once Hrimmi got moving and was warmed up. This turned out to be the case in this particular instance. Three quarters of the way through our walk she seemed to be doing better.

From my vantage point, which was behind Pete and Hrimmi, both her rear legs, particularly in the hock area, seemed wobbly. A few times the patella almost locked up again, but Pete didn’t have to push on it. We put her back in the pen at the conclusion of our walk, and then went for a bicycle ride with Mike and Vickie.

The entire time we were out (approximately three hours), I fretted about Hrimmi. This is because she can’t unlock her knee on her own. Therefore, she’d have to drag her leg behind herself if she wanted to go anywhere. This would be very unsafe. As it turned out, the knee didn’t lock up when we were away.

In the past, it was commonplace for veterinarians to recommend that horses with this condition be subjected to vigorous exercise, going up and down hills included. This is what we’ve been doing since Hrimmi was quite young. And I guess that we’ll continue to do this. It’s now also advocated that those who have horses with condition also do stretching exercises with them. I mentioned to my friend, ardent researcher Pam Nolfe, and that I was looking for more information on this subject. She promptly sent me two articles on the subject that were printed in 2007 in Horse and Hound magazine. The information and the mentioned stretching exercises will be most useful.

I’m not freaking out about this, at least not yet. We’ve been down this road before, with Mr. Siggi, who had the exact same problem. However, Hrimmi’s case seems to me to be more severe. So I will reach into my tool box and do everything I can to help her out, body work, TTeam obstacle work, body wraps, and carrot stretches included. I am fully aware that tending to Hrimmi is going to take precedence over riding Raudi – but I can and will do this.

Next: 280. 10/20/14: Heavy Lifting