Monday, November 21, 2011

Show Pictures and More Questions

There was a professional photographer taking pictures at the show on Saturday and I decided to order a couple since I didn't have any of my own. It's a lot cheaper when you take them yourself!

I thought this showmanship picture turned out really nice.

All smiles!
I thought this riding picture was a good example of how happy and content she seemed. I have no idea which class it is, but she looks pretty relaxed.

A happy pony!
I told everyone at the barn how she won her showmanship class and now they're referring to her as "the champion". The BO sent me a text this morning saying he was bringing in the champion because it was supposed to rain today. :)

There has been a slightly disturbing development in the Lilly department and I didn't want to ruin my happy show post yesterday by including this information, but I'm really puzzled. If you're a long time reader of Lilly's blog, you may recall how sometimes she seems to get "stuck" when she's walking. I've done posts on it here and here, but basically what happens is her left leg seems to get stuck, or hung up somehow. It happens mostly when I ride, and I've only seen it once myself, so I don't know exactly what's going on. The one time I witnessed it, it looked like she tried to take a step, and her leg didn't go forward properly, which caused her to drag her foot a little bit. Her head shot up and she stopped for a minute, then tried to take the step again, and was able to walk forward. It seemed like it was something in her stifle that caused her to get stuck. Locking stifle, maybe? I can't say for sure.

She had some trauma to that area a long time ago. When Lilly was about a year and a half old, she lived in a stall during the day. The doors were only half doors and one evening when I came home from work, I found her half in and half out. She was hanging over the stall door... front feet out, hind feet in. I was able to get her back in the stall but she had really done a number on her left hind flank. The vet came out to take a look and said it looked fine, but she had an enormous hematoma that was there for a while and she was very sore.

I've had my vet examine her a couple times since then, but she doesn't do the sticking thing often and the vet has never actually seen it happen. She's been adjusted multiple times and did have a small issue with her pelvis, but the vet didn't think that would be causing the issue. I've been doing some exercises with her to help strengthen the muscles in that area, and we've been doing a lot of riding lately, which I thought would definitely help.

In the past, the issue showed up once in a while... maybe once every two weeks or so, and only when I'm riding her, usually at the walk. What's bothering me is that at the show on Saturday this happened no less than a dozen times. That's the most it has happened by far and I'm concerned about why it has increased so much, especially since I've been working on exercises designed to help her. It doesn't seem to hurt her, but there's something going on and I really want to find out what.

I've also recently noticed (and mentioned) that her clockwise canter is rough and fast. She always picks up the correct lead in front and behind, although it feels a bit like she's cross-cantering. Since this is new-ish too, I'm wondering if it has to do with the stifle issue as well. She seems to break more going clockwise, so perhaps when she breaks from the canter she's actually getting stuck and I just don't notice because we're cantering?

I know it's difficult to give ideas and opinions without actually seeing it for yourself, but does anyone have any ideas? I would really appreciate them!


  1. Nice pictures!

    Sounds like a locking stifle. Some horses are prone to this due to their conformation and way of going - the patella catchs, preventing the leg from moving forward. The best remedy is developing the muscles that support the stifle - think our knee and you've got the idea. Things like work over poles - where the horse has to lift its legs - and hill work and also lots of trotting in straight lines - can all be helpful.

  2. Oh - and if it's a locking stifle, the symptoms will increase when the horse is more fatigued.

  3. Congrats on you wonderful day at the show... you both look fantastic!

    ...but I am clueless as to the other issue. I will be following closely and I think you have a lot of smart followers. I bet they will have a lot of insight! Keep us informed...

  4. That is a great showmanship picture! I never got any professional pictures done when I showed, and I really regret it.
    I was thinking the same thing as Kate about her locking up like that. I have no experience with locking stifles and I hope you find a solution to help her out!

  5. You guys look great!

    Sounds like an upward fixation of the patella. There's lots of info out there if you google it. You see it more in young horses or undeveloped horses or horses with straight hindquarters, not horses like your Lilly, although a change in hoof angle could be a factor.

    Here's an extreme case - My first horse was a 3 yr old throughbred mare with fairly straight hindquarters. One day she gave an enormous buck on the lunge line and came up 3 legged lame on the spot. I thought she'd broken a leg. Dr. Gary came immediately and popped her stifle back in place. She had some time off and slowly went back to work. He said that she was just a baby, and with conditioning, she'd grow out of it. I did all the rehab, and she never had another problem.


    Becca, I just ran across this article, and it mentions canter problems too. I didn't know about that.

  7. Yep, first thing I thought was the stifle too. Sorry, no help from here, never had to deal with that.

    She looks really relaxed in that under saddle photo from the show- nice work!

  8. She looks fantastic in both pics! I'm so glad you ordered them, they really show you both off so beautifully!

    Sorry to hear about the issue, sounds stifle-y to me too. Let us know what you find out, and I hope it's nothing serious!

  9. Thanks everyone! Doesn't she look hott in her hoof boots? :)

    I've got a post coming about upward fixation of the patella... Lilly makes sure I keep up to date on horse anatomy, I swear.

  10. I wish I could see a video of her doing it and I bet you wish you had one! Junior does a similar thing (or maybe the same thing?!) but mostly at the trot. It sort of feels like he leaves his left hind behind him. Sometimes it's subtle and sometimes it breaks the rhythm enough to cause a change in my posting diagonal. He does it less when he's collected and he does it most when we go around corners, usually to the right. Canter also feels very different each lead. Like the others said, it's usually a strength issue. My Dressage instructor was not concerned about it even when she saw it because she said he needs to get stronger and it will get better, so that relieved my anxiety over it, but we have a lot of work to do to strengthen him. I'm sure you saw the section about the stifle in our Fitness book. It reminded me of how webMD always tells you might be dying, no matter what your symptoms. ;)

  11. CONGRATS on your awesome show!! You guys look great in your pics too, look at her go! What a wonderful ending to all the issues you've had this year!