View Full Version : Hock Fusion in a yearling

25-01-08, 02:26 PM

I currently own a yearling QH gelding who sadly requires both his hocks to be fused. With the operation I am looking at a 60-70% success rate and without the surgery I am only looking at a 10-20% success rate.
He has the best personality, a very friendly and kind horse, yet I know at the moment he is in alot of pain and I am not sure what to do. I am worried what the right course of action is, I was wondering if any one has had to have both their horses hocks fused at the same time and if they did how did the horse recover and whether they would recommend doing this procedure in a horse that is so young. Another factor that is going against him is the fact he could also have some future hip problems.

Any information would be greatly appreciated at this time, as I am at a loss as what I should do.


25-01-08, 02:43 PM
Years ago I owned a QH gelding who I bought when he was 3. He required the same sort of surgery and so I took him to Camden Uni and got his hocks fused (MIA). He was a nice guy, but a weak personality (wuss) and I did the follow up to the letter. The end result was he was OK, but never brilliant. Would I do it again, no. I am sorry to say that, but if they have the fault, you are always going to have problems of some sort. If you know his hips are already a problem, then better to know now than later. Given your horse is a yearling, to recognise faults so early may be a blessing in an odd sort of way, but persevering may only bring you more grief. I promise I am not a negative sort of person, but while the short term may bring hope, the long term is probably not good. I spent alot of money on this horse in hopes of making things right, but would like to spare someone the expense and time that I went through. Hope the advice helps.

Elwood stinie
25-01-08, 02:58 PM
Does your vet think it is worth it given the hip issue as well?
Sorry I am not going on personal experience but I would reccomend getting at least one more vets opinion. A good horse vet will have seen this enough times to know what you are going in for.

I hope it works out for you and your horse!

25-01-08, 03:08 PM
What a horrible situation to be in. I feel for you decision and will not offer my advice as I am sure you will make the right choice.


25-01-08, 03:56 PM
So sorry to hear about your horse's problem. He sounds like a lovable horse, and it is nice to know you want to give him the best chance. I never struck this problem in a horse before, but I can feel for you. Hope everything works out for your horse in the long run.

26-01-08, 02:13 AM
If I can give you advice at all, To help make the correct decision, get a couple of opinions, and preferably see an orthopedic surgeon. Where are you?

Bad Bones
26-01-08, 02:36 AM
have had a number of horses in the past with varying bone probs
have had surgery on one, have had to put one down, given one away
my recommendation would be "be conservative"
we often want things to be fixed right away and so opt for the immediate 'solution'
I have learned that it is best not to rush into anything involving surgery on a horse (other than colic surgery)
with conservative care your horse may still have a comfortable if not useful life
surgery will be painful & recovery difficult
the hock is a complicated joint (being the same as human ankle) &
I'm not sure how they fuse a horse but in a human it usually involves bone graft
like encore said get a few different opinions
decide how much money you are prepared (can afford) to spend on a horse that may never be completely sound
find out as much about the procedure as you can (exactly what is involved, what the recovery involves etc)
decide how dedicated you can be to the recovery & rehabilitation (do you have the time available to you to do it exactly how it should be done to give horse best outcome?)
a horse like this is a long term responsibility
very hard to 'move on' if your circumstances change in the future
not trying to put a 'downer' on you just think you need to consider the long term implications of your fellows probs

26-01-08, 06:17 AM
How long have you had the yearling? If he is a recent purchase, maybe the stud would exchange him for you, if they were unaware of his problems...

If you bred this horse, then look into your options very thoroughly before racing off for surgery, as surgery can be very expensive and not always successful.

Also consider that at this age he has many years ahead of him with possible duscomfort, discuss this thoroughly with your vet, aslo the lon term effects of surgery i.e. the possibility of arthritis etc.

Good luck I hope you get some good answers.



26-01-08, 06:59 AM
The only case I'm aware of doing hock fusion was a friend who had her eventers hock fused. He still had to be retired, the results were very limited, and he's now a paddock ornament. This was only on one leg, but now he has problems with the other leg too.

Please don't think me too harsh, but if he's a yearling, perhaps you should consider whether he's not better off going to the paddock in the sky, rather than have a life of pain, and never being a rideable horse.

One of my horses spent 6 months on bute and had intravenous antibiotics after chipping some bone off his hock joint. He too is now retired, he never came that good, and it cost me thousands of dollars to get him paddock sound. He was already a mature horse by that point, and I gave him every chance I could because he'd been such a good horse to me. I'm not sure I wouldn't have thought differently if he'd have been a yearling however :(


Horse sense - something that horses have that stops them betting on humans.

26-01-08, 08:07 AM
I know this is different but I acquired a neglect case as a 2yr old that had 'nearly' completely fused hocks due to arthritis. Due to the pain this horse was in and the trouble he had getting up (he spent a bit of time lying down I assume to relieve the joint pain) I had him put to sleep. The vet did not have a good prognosis for any type of treatment for this horse.

26-01-08, 08:13 AM
oops sorry for all the typos in my above post, should have proof read it first. Not completely illiterate, just had brain working faster than fingers

26-01-08, 08:46 AM
Thanks for all the information I have recieved so far.

In response to some questions, I bred Hugo so cannot take him back to the stud, he currently lives on the farm in which he was born. I have also had my vet and the vets out at Werribee look at him, we took x-rays and that provided us with no results, so we had to inject him with a dye so we could see what was wrong and thus we found the hot spots in his hocks and thus showing that he needed to have his hocks fused.

26-01-08, 10:44 AM
if he were mine, even if he were the loveliest horse in the world, I wouldn't bother with surgery. You're still talking a large margin of not working, and you're looking at a youngster with several problems.

I'd take him home and bury him.

Breeding is a mugs games, and sometimes you lose the nicest horses.

i'd have a heart to heart with the vet about genetic predisposition and I wouldn't be in a huge hurry to repeat the mating either.

26-01-08, 12:48 PM
We had a stallion who's hock fused due to antibiotic resistant infection (vet induced :( ). Although the hock "seemed" to be alright about a year later we had him pts because, unless he was living on heavy pain medication, the hock was still causing him too much pain.

Hock fusion isn't something I would be venturing into unless ... well I can't come up with an unless at the moment.

I'd be seriously worried for the long term. :( I'm a breeder too so I understand how painful this decision must be for you.