|Michigan 3 year old Spotted Saddle Horse ridden
in full cheek snaffle and ohto flex saddle in round pen and trails
on 500 acres by intermediate rider.
This 3 year old filly had 60 days of professional training put on her
last fall in preparation for driving, i.e. ground manners and ground driving,
no riding. (she never liked pulling a cart) I started riding her this April
in the roundpen working on left, right, backing a
She is not very tall, ca 14.3 hands, but built quite stout. In June we started going on the trails, i.e. riding around the house and barn, and for the last 6 weeks I ride her 1/2 hour 4-5 times a week on the trails.
I have noticed that she is a strong pacer and have taken all of your training advice on that and it is working great. She performed her first running walk just a few days ago...only a few strides, but we are taking it very slow.
My question is more of a medical/conformation one: I noticed that her
kneecaps in both stifles pop back and forth. When I first started to ride
her, she used to dip in the back end. Since we've been riding up hills
and working on getting her body conditioned not to pace it has not been
that noticeable. I can hear her kneecaps pop when I groom her or mess with
her out in the pasture. Is this a conformational fault that will
cause us problems in the long
Thank you for your help.
From Panelist Liz
It does worry me that you can hear the popping sound. It sounds like they still do not have the muscle to support and keep them in place yet. I would take it slow and not push her. Sounds like she needs some more growing time yet. Light conditioning will be ok but no hard work and see how they are next year.
From Panelist Lee
She *is* just a baby. The loose stifle situation can be a result of immaturity, a growth spurt, a current (but not necessarily final) conformation ratio, and, as your vet said, lack of muscling. She may grow out of it, some of them do. For now, what you can do is some specific exercises to build up her stifles -- esp climbing hills, and work over cavallettis (poles on the ground for a start, then raising them to about a foot high, either under saddle or better, on a long line).
Try working at the hard trot, as this is the best exercise for those
joints. You are wise
This is not unusual in horses with a lot of Tennessee Walker blood in them, and as a SSH she may have a good deal of that.
You may hear recommendations of surgery or internal "blisters" -- try the exercise route first before you get that drastic with a treatment.
From Panelist Erica
Weak stifles are somewhat common in Tennessee Walking Horses, of which
your horse may be if registered Spotted Saddle. I would most definitely
have a knowledgeable Equine vet out to check her out right away. Because
of her age, I would not work her under saddle much if at all until she
is older. I personally do not start any of my horses until they are a minimum
of 4yrs old, and preferably 5-6. Your filly is still just a baby, and if
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