Why do equine youngsters suffer with Locking Stifles.
Horses and ponies, like us have a patella (knee cap) consisting of 3 ligaments that extend from the base to the top of the tibia (shin bone). On the end of the femur (thigh bone) there is a notch and it is the interaction between the ligaments and this notch that causes the upwards fixation or stuck stifle.
Underneath the Patella there is a groove between the inside and centre ligaments of the patella, and this groove hooks over the notch of bone on the femur. In young horses and ponies often the notch has too much lip on the front and the ligaments get stuck.
Young horses who have been worked and then turned away can suddenly suffer with this condition, particularly if the horse is getting more fit than the skeleton is ready for. The toned quadriceps muscles can end up lifting the patella, so when the horse is turned away and the muscles get flabby, the patella ends up stuck in the notch. Similarly young horses that are growing abnormally fast and disproportionately suffer with this as the bones and ligaments become mismatched.
The good news is young horses often grow out of this as the notch wears in and becomes less prominant. Bowen Therapy can also help to release the sticky mechanism. In the August 2014 edition of South East Rider, I used a case study of a young horse called Mia who had locking stifle and responded well to Bowen Therapy. Alternatively visit www.southeastrider.co.uk.