More advice on upper fixation of patella given to owner of TWH

My veterinarian is quite sure that my 8 year old Tennessee Walking Horse has an upper fixation of the patella. Though this is very evident at the walk, she still does an wonderful running walk under saddle and she runs like the wind in the pasture just for the joy of running. She doesn't seem to ...My veterinarian is quite sure that my 8 year old Tennessee Walking Horse has an upper fixation of the patella. Though this is very evident at the walk, she still does an wonderful running walk under saddle and she runs like the wind in the pasture just for the joy of running. She doesn't seem to ...

Story originally posted by: Michael Lowder, DVM, MSUniv. of GA School of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Lowder,

My veterinarian is quite sure that my 8 year old Tennessee Walking Horse has an upper fixation of the patella. Though this is very evident at the walk, she still does an wonderful running walk under saddle and she runs like the wind in the pasture just for the joy of running. She doesn’t seem to be bothered by this condition, yet I’m concerned about the long term affects. Will this predispose her to lameness? Is she more likely to develop arthritis earlier than she would if she didn’t have the problem? Your suggestion to someone else who owns a horse with this problem was exercise for the horse. What type and duration would be a good starting point and to what goal should I be working my mare? If I have a goal to work towards at least I’ll know how I should start her on conditioning so as not to cause other lameness problems. Right now she’s enjoying a winter vacation from riding so come spring she’ll need to be started slowly.

Thank you!
Lanee

Lanee,

The etiology of upper fixation of the patella is basically laxity of the patella ligaments. This can be due to poor conformation (straight limbs), poor condition or in fit horses a period of stall rest. Thus, exercise is the best and safest treatment. Occasionally, some people will blister or cut the patella ligaments (may lead to degenerative changes at the apex of the patella). Before I could recommend any exercise program I would need to know what condition the mare is in now. However, the eye of the master fattens the stock. You’re the master. If you’re riding 30 minutes every other day and your mare is still having trouble then increase either or both the frequency and/or duration of your riding.

Good Luck,
Dr. Lowder