I’ve been busy reading up on Locking Stifles since saraannon gave me the English name for it- thank you!

Turns out, my vet is mostly right, what do you know… I do need to train Marble’s hind legs. I won’t be having her trained in small circles though, everything I am rebels against that kind of training of any horse, but I can work around that. We already started out on our creative training today, by trotting across barriers on the ground… no jumping, just raising the legs, coordinating her movements, engaging her knees and… trying not to hit the foal who is in the way at all times…

Ablaze had a field day, eating my obstacles, making sure to stand exactly where we came running at all times… Bloody little… I am thinking that tomorrow, I’ll run around with him first, make sure he is good and tired, and then maybe it will be easier to train the others…

And yep, all the others were included. Saleem always finds it hard to deal with obstacles, even tiny ones, but he displayed a lot of courage today and actually had fun with it. Tardis flew off the handle and bucked and reared and rolled- she rolls when she gets excited, that is going to be interesting once we get to riding her- and when she was done acting like a two year old, she jumped the barriers rather than trot across them… what do you know. Completely unrelated to my old Amalia, they were both born on April the first and even if it must be a coincidence, the likeness in their behavior is striking. April’s fools are just that, all year round, it would seem.

Speaking of Amalia, I came across something a little startling while reading up on Locking Stifles. Amalia always had this “click” sound in her hind knees, when she was walking. Not in a trot, not at a canter, not while ridden, but when she was walking on the pasture, you could always hear her knees click, click, click, with every step she took. She always seemed flat somehow, a little stiff across her pelvic, when left to her own devices. Never when ridden. And once in a while, when standing still, she would have these cramp- like attacks, where she would kick her hind hooves hard into the ground repeatedly.

Apocalipse (Amalia’s son) has slowly been displaying all of those symptoms as he was growing up. The clicking knees, the strange cramps and kicking the ground, and the flat, stiff walk… I have been calling him my lazy teenager for a while now, trying not to worry too much about it. After all, Amalia lived for 17 years and it never affected her in a crippling way… Still, I have been wondering to myself, if I was missing something. Clearly I was. All of these symptoms are well, symptoms of Locking Stifles. Mild symptoms, but still symptoms. I was quite stunned to have such a clear picture drawn of my old mare, while reading up on this. 14 years I knew her, and I never connected the two. And it’s not like I haven’t had my vet check her out, and my chiropractor, about a hundred times… No one ever connected her symptoms to Locking Stifles.

So, yes, Apocalipse is joining Marble in her training program. He was brilliant today, with the barriers. My shining example of how to do it right. We even managed to not hit the foal on occasion…

I must admit that even if Locking Stifles is not exactly the diagnoses you are hoping to stumble across, having a name for it, is pretty awesome at long last. At least now, I can fight it. This watching him, wondering, was kind of driving me crazy, no matter how much I tried to shrug it off. When your three year old is turning flat in his walk, you have to wonder why. What would happen if I started training him now, would I damage him? What is happening? Having a name and a diagnosis on this strange thing makes my life so much easier. He needs to be trained, I won’t damage him by doing so…

I have been told, more than once, that the click sound in their knees came from air in the joints. I must admit, I always found that strange. Air? In the joints? What the…? But well, who am I to argue? Okay kidding, I always argue. I just haven’t been able to come up with a better explanation until now.

I did learn from my reading up on Locking Stifles, that you can inject the patella with DMSO. My vet didn’t mention that. I am thinking that if training Marble shouldn’t be quite enough, I would like to try that, much more than having her through surgery… But hopefully we will avoid both. Time will tell.

Another strange thing about Apocalipse is that he is seemingly immune to the electric fence. (Yes I have my fence electrified, it is required by law to have a secure fence around your pasture in Denmark, and my pasture is surrounded by small roads, where people drive like crazy, so I want my horses to respect my fence and stay on my pasture.)

I have heard stories about foals, not responding to the electric fence before. Apocalipse proved all those stories right, and again I was told that he has air in his joints, thus preventing the electricity from running through him. It has been a bit of a problem with him, growing up, and once in a while running straight through the fence, simply because he didn’t really respect it… I remember when he was a foal, he was biting the fence quite happily and I checked with my little device if the current was somehow broken. It wasn’t. He just didn’t feel it.

This is the horse I have with the lowest pain threshold of them all. When he can bite the electric fence, he truly doesn’t feel it. If he did, he would never, ever touch it again.

As he has grown older, he is beginning to feel it, to the extent that he doesn’t bite the fence anymore, but he really isn’t too bothered by it all in all. He does continue to randomly touch it while walking by and he hardly ever responds. Not like Ablaze for instance, who has been feeling the electricity since he was a day old… I have no idea why Apocalipse is so immune to it. But air in the joints?

Maybe someday, I will be reading up on something else and at random come across an explanation that makes sense in my head, for this as well…

He did have me scared this evening though. I showed up to feed them just before night fall, as always. He ate and was happy, just like always and then, all of a sudden, his hind legs just collapsed and he fell. He got up and started hyperventilating, wanting to roll again, looking pretty much like he was absolutely dying. So naturally I got a halter and a rope on him and started walking him while calling my vet. I don’t mess about with colic. Especially not the kind that shows up like a lightning strike, making the horse go from being happy and normal, to looking like it has seconds left to live.

My vet started her car and drove to our place right away. It took her twenty minutes and in that time, he was hyperventilating, stumbling along, wanting to roll and being altogether horribly miserable. Then, as the vet pulled into the courtyard, he took a deep breath and calmed down. So my vet arrived to find a perfectly happy horse, breathing normally and not at all looking like he had a stomach ache.

Luckily she believed me when I told her of his strange spell, and he was administered painkillers. I set about watching him for the following two hours, making sure he wasn’t relapsing. He was happily eating hay and looking at me like I was a bit of an idiot for sitting in the cold and the dark, freezing my ass off, watching him.

I have no idea what happened. I must admit, I am quite shocked that he got so sick, so quickly and it just went away. I haven’t changed his food in anyway, I can think of no reason whatsoever for this colic spell. I can’t shake the thought though, what would have happened if I hadn’t been there? What if he gets sick like this, when I am not there one day? And I know, I shouldn’t think like that. I am writing this long post though, mostly to keep me occupied and to prevent me from moving in at my hay loft…

So yeah, it’s wonderful, being a horse owner. Always something to learn, always something to feel horrible about having missed, always something to worry about and always that vet bill to pay…


About Starstone

-Owned by horses. Writer, Photographer, Director, Musician.
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