Peoples experience of Spavin - a discussion ?

Llwyncwn

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As a YO, 6 horses on my yard have been x-rayed over the last 18 months who have schooling/hacking issues only to find that they have spavin. Last week my lovely mare came in lame with swollen tendon/annular ligament. After initial examination she was lame on both hinds and went into clinic for lameness workup which showed spavin in both hocks, along with other things.

This makes 4 of my horses who have spavin. OH asked if this was the new fashion (?) to which vets explained that until recently there wasnt the technology or interest (in Wales) to identify it, and that most people owning horses with spavin would put the problems down to lazy horses, give them a kick to move forward.

Thinking back to our old Harry Boy who passed away two years ago, he would labour down hill, hacking would drift towards the middle of the road, and I would use my legs to push him on (as in lazy horse).

Horses dont get up in the morning and plan how to Pi$$ us off, they normally try their upmost to do as we ask, unless it is physically impossible.

My question is ... how many of you have had spavin confirmed by x-ray and how many of you think that there is a problem, but havnt done anything about it?

My equine vets say that "watch all the equine sports on TV and the trained eye will see hind limb lameness in most".

My beautiful mare is facing a GA next week and I would really like to hear of everyones experiences, thoughts, possitive or negative.
 

arwenplusone

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I have a mare with spavin (xrays confirm) and she has had the new treatment (think I have mentioned this before - I'm always banging on about it) which has fused the joint very quickly.

I also have a horse who I 'suspect' has spavin - he is tense through his back, but not lame. I am taking him in next week to find out what is causing his back to tense. I am convinced it is his hind legs and nothing to do with his back at all.

The thing is, I *could* carry on working him through it & he'd do fine at novice level dressage and SJ, BUT I think if I want him to do elementary he needs to be softer and more supple.

Fortunately I have a super specialist vet who does nothing but lameness all day long.
It won't surprise me if he says it is spavin - and the horse is only 10.
 

hellybelly6

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My horse had bone spavin aged 9/10 ish. My vet said that most horses have BS by that age. My horse wasnt particularly lame, but was stiff in his hind legs and found going down hill difficult.
 

Chumsmum

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My 17yo has spavin (confirmed by xray) and I initially thought it was back/saddle problems until it became obvious when schooling, it came on pretty quickly when I look back and vet confirms the arthritic changes had just started. There is no way I could have ignored it if I wanted to continue schooling.

It may have taken a while for me to realise if I was just going in straight lines, i.e just hacking - yes, he was slower down hill but quicker if in company or on the way home lol so could have been mistaken for him just being lazy or careful? At least for a while anyway.

With regards to prognosis, my pony had a steriod/ha injection last summer, for some reason it has stopped working as well (xrays this week showed little change from last year) so he has had another injection and only time will tell if and how long it has worked. Lots of people on here have had very good success with various treatments and have continued to compete their horses, they just require that extra care.

Fingers crossed for your mare next week.
 

FAYEFUDGE

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Very interesting!
My boy was diagnosed with spavin, by xray, in Sept 08.
He hadn't been all that lame but I like to get everything checked!
By late Feb 09 his spavin had fully fused (was already 80% fused when diagnosed).
As a precaution I got my vet to xray the other hock and low and behold it was fully fused as well!
So in effect my boy had been suffering with bi-lateral bone spavin for the guts of 2 yrs!
The only symptoms he had were a tendancy to be a bit lazy and lean on the bit.
I felt awful for not noticing, but my vet explained that some horses are more noticeably lame than others.
Will be very interested in other peoples comments
 
L

lilym

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One of mine has confirmed spavin in both hocks, it was first noticable during schooling, especially in canter - out hacking in straight lines she is fine, she has been treated with HA injections, steriods and adequan, she has been passed fit for her purpose - low level riding club & prelim dressage. She is also on a joint supplement. I also give a joint supplement to my 7yo welsh D as a preventative ( I hope) measure.
What would also interest me is if we all had x-rays ourselves how many of us would also have some arthritic changes to our knees, hips, shoulders etc??
 

TarrSteps

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Interesting what you say about modern diagnostic methods . . .

In my very lost youth, I remember spavins being a very common diagnosis of not just lameness but "under performance". Hocks have been relatively easy to x-ray for decades. It's only, to my perspective, since we've been able to x-ray necks and backs (very recent, relative to legs), scan, thermo-image and otherwise turn over many rocks, that spavin has fallen from favour and people have gone to "back men" etc as a first resort.

The general feeling used to be you shod the horse appropriately (for soundness, if not necessarily the long term), gave it pain and inflammation relief, and then kept it in work, hoping the hocks fused. I think the general assumption was most performance horses had hock damage and it was just one of those things you dealt with. I'd say this is still a pretty common assumption amongst upper level riders/managers, hence the wide spread use of glucosamine and similar supplements and management practices like HA, joint injections etc.

Hocks are a very weak link in the top line - lots of little bones, high mobility, tendency towards twisting, slipping and other kinds of extreme force. huge muscle attachments and potential for strain. Like people's ankles, they are easy to hurt and hard to heal. Plus we breed for athleticism now - the most competitively successful model is not necessarily the most physically stable. (Necks are also inherently prone to damage . . . I'm starting to hear of more horse with damage to both areas when the vets get looking.)

I suspect there is also some case to be made for the modern obsession with "riding in a frame", leverage bitting (anything with leverage increases force on the horse but makes it seem like less force to the rider - that's how levers work) being part of any potential increase. Force on the top line, over what the horse can physically bear, will most affect the weakest link. Obviously this will not be the same for every horse but again, a mobile joint with lots of pieces is a pretty weak link . . .

I think lots of horses have hock changes are aren't lame or behaving in any obviously negative way. BUT that doesn't mean ones that are lame or experiencing loss of performance AREN'T affected by spavin. It's not "either or".
 

cellie

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Mine broke down with spavin had op in jan which was a success but has broken down again with another problem .I think his front leg lameness should have been picked up at same time.
My boy was described as lazy by both my instructors now I know he was in pain .Some horse deal with it better than others personally my lad cant work through any pain.
If you have a good horse then I would recommend surgery its quicker re fusion and has good results.
My vet likened it to osteoarthritis in old mans hands you can see bony swellings and there is extreme discomfort until fusion takes place .
 
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What a very interesting post. I hope plenty of people read it and not just those who think spavins might be affecting their horse.

Mine has had both hocks injected for spavin, improved vastly, deteriorated to as bad as he was pre treatment then has gradually got to a level where he appears to be comfortable and happy to school, gallop and jump and behave like a total pillock in his field!

He is now unshod behind and it seems to agree with him. His hind feet show no abnormal signs of wear at all.
 

tikino

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my boy has got bone spavin in both hocks. he was diagnoised when he was 8-9 years olad he is now 12yrs. i only realized something was wrong because he started becoming realy notty when jumping and would put in dirty stops so got vet out to check him and he was lame on both hind limbs. he was xrayed and had it in both legs. he was injected into both hocks and is now on a joint supplement. i don't overdo it will him and touch wood he remains sound and long may it continue
 

Dotilas

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My boy is lazy, but I have always put it down to him being a lazy cob, but when you say it was noticeable in schooling - what are the symptoms/things that are different?

Mine is really careful down hill, but has never been lame ever. He has only been slightly stiff/lame once and that was last week after a hunter trial. Recently I have noticed that when I pick up his back feet to pick out, he picks them up and under, and finds it difficult to move them out and down to where I would normally pick out a hoof.

He has never been particularly well schooled, and is never very straight, so I'm not sure I would notice a difference, what should I be looking for?
 

Riverboy

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My lad was sold to me 'school stale' from a riding school. he loved hacking out however and was always forward. He started to get lazier out hacking (not lazy just not my wizzy little lad) had vets out and they couldnt find anything, we were then vetted out of an endurance ride for front leg lameness... he'd been funny for a while so i insisted on all x rays etc, found he had bi-lateral spavin...

I felt terrible that he'd just been labeled as difficult/lazy when he had clearly been sore. He then developed navicular in the front due to the additional load...

He just started coming back to work this week so fingers crossed all goes well... I find this really interesting though, I'd never heard of spavin before - it does seem to show varrying degrees of lameness...
 

Llwyncwn

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Some very good posts here which make interesting reading.

BooBW - I found with the horses here who have symptoms of, or confirmed spavin, most have pretty much the same issues, bearing in mind that some horses handle pain better than others. Over the last month or so my mare has been labouring down hill and occasionally hollowing out on hacks, sweating and tiring more which is unusual for her. I havnt asked much of her in the school since her annular ligament operation last year but again, unwilling to engage and occasional hollowing, slow off the leg where normally you would only need to 'think' the movement or shift your weight.

Another horse on the yard just refused to school and would buck like stink into canter on a corner, laboured on a hack and unable to pick up her back legs/leaning on farrier. Her behaviour got steadily worse until she became quite dangerous and double barrelled her owner. She went from an absolute dream horse to a grumpy, depressed, tetchy, bargy orange nightmare.

I suppose the basic symptoms are that of a lazy horse.

My equine vets explained that hind limb lameness is very hard to identify, even to the trained eye. The vet trotted Cass in front to show me that one of her hips dipped more than the other which is one way to identify hind limb lameness, she then did flexion tests on both to confirm it.

None of these horses are necessarily high mileage so I have been racking my brains to see if there is a common factor, but havnt found one yet. Could it be a conformational fault? Is there one particular type that is/is not predisposed to spavin, would a joint suppliment from an early age actually make any difference whatsoever?

Do pleae keep your experiences coming, Im sure this will help to educate not only me, but many others.
 

summertoots

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Some intresting posts here. My lad was diagnoses this time last year. First signs I had was he started to drop his hips, found it hard to engage his hocks schooling and became pottery hacking. I have a great equine vet here and he came and did a lameness work out at our yard. He has spavin in the top hock joint on his left hind, his right hind is clear. At the start of june we x-rayed again and to our surprise his joint had fused, it was honestly that quick. Right hock was still clear! We sent all pictures to the vet school to get a second opinion and they confirmed that he had fused that quickly and if he was now sound to just crack on and ride.
I put him on cortaflex HA put him back to work and so far (touch wood) he has been fine. Even last month when he managed to poke a twig into his fetlock and form a lovely swollen cut that resulted in three weeks box rest, he didnt stiffen up too much.
I would chalenge anyone to point out any problems with his hind limb action!
 

dieseldog

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I think the cases of Spavin have probably decreased in recent years, but only because PSD has now been identified. It presents exactly the same as a Spavin, they will go lame on the same flexion test, the only way to tell them apart is by nerve blocking and then scanning.

If a horse is just flexion tested and then xray'd it might not be Spavin, just because there are bony changes going on in the hock, it might not be what is making the horse lame. If you have a horse with a suspected spavin make sure that your vet nerve blocks to confirm it is that, as the treatments for PSD and Spavin are very different.
 

Flame_

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Fantastic thread.

My gelding had bad hocks all the time I owned him (age 6 - 12). Got a proper diagnosis aged 9 and he started the cartrophen(sp?) injections. I've had others with spavins and IME you're supposed to encourage the horse to get on with as much as it can cope with, if necessary with pain relief, and the its all supposed to fuse, settle down and the horse becomes pain free (things could have changed since then).

Well my lad never did. He coped for a long while but just became more and more miserable and uncomfortable. He also had on going front feet problems. He was PTS when I'd had it from a good vet that he was never going to be sound.

Personally, I'm OK with horses coping with less than perfect bodies, as long as they feel happy to do the level of work asked of them. The amount of people you see riding horses and pushing them through "laziness", which is clearly stuffiness due to discomfort, is quite scary, especially when they've had the horse long enough that they should know its trying to tell them something.
 

TheFarrier

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There seems to be a huge increase in Navicular/Spavins/Ring and side bone as well.

I dont know if this is down to breeding/breaking too young/jumping/use and the technology to discover these conditions has advanced.

There are also advances in the things we can do as owners/farriers/vets to keep horses sound to cope with what we ask of them

Horses were not designed to carry weight nor to jump or ride on tarmac etc etc
 
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