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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Horse Veterinarian
Category: Horse Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1207
Experience:  Board Certified Equine Surgeon, Lameness and Sports Medicine Specialist DVM, BSc
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Is there anything that can be done to stop wobbly knees? My

Customer Question

Is there anything that can be done to stop wobbly knees? My mare is a 2009 foaled HYPP N/H halter bred and shown horse. In 2015, as an eight years old, she developed wobbling of her knees. She will not be show in halter this year if the problem continues due the wobbling knees lowers her placing in halter.
We have tried using vibrating cold boots, Bute by mouth, the use of various linemants, and lowering the heels of the front feet. I'm not convinced that the farrier has continued to lower her heels over the winter. I had endometrial cancer this winter that required a total hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy, and multiple lymph nodes for biopsy. For that reason, I have not been able to be at the barn to make sure the heels are lowered. I expected my husband to make sure they were lowered, but he must have forgotten.
Thank you,
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Horse Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,I would be happy to help you with your question. Could I get a little more information.When did the knee issues start?
Was there any injury associated with the knee issues
Is your mare having trouble straightening her knees? Both sides?Thanks and talk soon
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.


Sorry for the delay - I am unable to provide a phone call currently but would be able to continue to exchange details via JA.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. B.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Dr. B,
I have paid a total of $76.00 to Just Answer and have yet to receive an answer to my question of March 18, 2016, from you. Would you please communicate an answer to me. How am I to evaluate your answer until I receive one??
Thank you,
***** *****
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
Hi Sharon,My apologies, there must have been a communication problem here - I needed to ask a few more questions to help me give you the best possible answer to your questions.When did the problem start?
Was there any trauma associated with the knee issues?
Is the mare having trouble straightening the leg in to full extension? OR trouble with keeping the knees from rubbing together?
Is there any lameness involved?
Could you send a picture? - you will have the option to attach a photo from your end and I could have a look or some folks will send a like to a YouTube video that I can look at for these types of problems.Talk soon
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello Dr B!
She developed the problem last spring when we started showing her.
No known trauma to her knees prior to the start of the problem.
She can straighten her legs and fully extend the knees. The wobbling of the knees starts when she is standing still and set up for conformation inspection. Her knees may not wobble the entire time she is standing quietly. She travels fine at all gaits without any lameness.
There is no contact of the front legs when she travels or is standing quietly. She tracks fine.
As of last spring, she had put on weight for the halter classes. She had been a poor eater starting as a yearling. We had her on Ulcer Guard for a week then gave a daily dose of an antacid through the show season. She was treated prior to showing with Ulcer Guard. Her appetite increased, she maintained her weight, but the knees just did not always "lock in" when in a halter class.
She had Ice-Vibe leg wraps applied for at least 30 minutes after exercising, which was only for a 15 minute time with her legs wrapped with a quilt and standing wrap.
As previously stated, she is HYPP N/H (asymptomatic) and receives Purina Omolene 200 (that is what she will eat), and alfalfa/mixed hay. She likes timothy hay today and alfalfa or grass hay the next day. She has been a challenge to find what she will eat.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.


Thanks for that additional information. The pictures and your description are very helpful. She is a nice looking halter horse!

My suspicion, without actually seeing her do it, given the information/pictures is that the right leg is probably more prone but both legs will have the same problem and both will shake like you have mentioned. It looks like she has some contracture of her flexor tendons and probably some suspensory contracture. This is a fairly common issue with halter horses especially with Impressive or other double muscle lines. What happens is the tendons and ligaments did not quite keep up with the fast rate of growth that she had as a youngster and now there is some contracture of the tendons and ligaments. Based on the pictures, it looks like the DDFT check ligament has a little swelling in it - again very common with this type of problem. The shaking of the knee is caused by fatigue of the muscles connecting to the tendons from above the knee as well as the fatigue of the tendon to stretch as the horse is moved around - that is why you will most often see this at the end of a class or after she has been moving around. It can and will still occur even with her standing in her stall but more common will be after she has been moving around and fatiguing the tendons/ligaments. As far as treatments, lowering the heel over a protracted amount of time can help but she may actually need a small surgery to release some of the tension in the tendons - she may need one of her check ligaments cut - she would need to be seen my a sports medicine specialist or surgeon to help determine that. If it is the suspensory ligament that is contracted, then physiotherapy and adjusting the heel will be the main options as cutting the suspensory is not an option. You can also help warm up the tendons and suspensory prior to your classes with warm bandages or there are various sweats that you can use to help increase blood flow and relax the tendons before you go to the ring. She isn't too bad - I have seen a lot worse but she does have some contracture of the back of the leg below the knee and above. I don't think the HYPP is doing it - you should notice a twitching in her eyelid if the HYPP is starting to be come active during these episodes otherwise, I would definitely rule it out for now. I think keeping her on the Gastrogard is a good idea given the difficulty with her appetite, although expensive, it can make quite a difference. Certainly talk to you vet about confirming this diagnosis and the may be able to ultrasound the check ligaments to see if there is swelling in them and help make a decision about whether to treat them. Hope this helps. Cheers