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Ask Dr. Dave

Elaine from Pennsylvania, writes:

Dear Dr. Dave,

We purchased a seven year-old former race horse with barrel training. After our purchase we found out he seems to have stifle problems. A vet injected both stifles with cortisone. Two weeks into his treatment he is no longer bringing both hind legs together and "bunny hopping" around the barrels. What should our next step be to provide the best care and get the most for our money? What diagnostics do you recommend? Thank you!

Dear Elaine,

Thank you for your question about your former race horse turned barrel horse. As usual, I probably have more questions than answers for you.

How many years did the horse race? How much time was spent converting him to barrel racing? When did you first notice him sore, and how was it diagnosed to be in his stifles? Both stifles?

From your letter I'm not clear if he was "bunny hopping" before having his stifles injected, or if he still is. Anyway, typically a horse who lopes or runs with both hind legs together he is usually protecting his back. My first course of action would be to employ a veterinarian skilled in chiropractics to evaluate and adjust his back. It is my opinion that there are many hocks and stifles unnecessarily injected.

If your question says that everything is presently doing well, and you merely want to know what to do to keep him going, I would recommend you slowly increase his exercise and intensity regime, make a lot of timed runs, build his confidence, strengthen his psyche and enjoy the ride!

If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to write.

Here's to good ground and fast times,

Dr. Dave