Can you ride a horse with dropped fetlocks

Sep 04, 2023 | Super Equestrian


Can you ride a horse with dropped fetlocks

Imagine you are riding a horse against the clock in a hot texas field when your ride suddenly slows down and you notice something you didn’t expect to happen! You started to panic and thought to yourself, “lo and behold, my horses' fetlock has come undone!”. 

Your only concern now is whether you can ride a horse with dropped fetlocks.

Of course not! 

Because riding an injured horse can be dangerous for both horse and rider. And if you notice that the horse's fetlocks dropped then immediately stop riding and start the treatment.   

Despite being strong, horses can also experience injury or pain. Having dropped fetlocks is a nightmare for horses. They can't even walk properly. So, riding a horse while having dropped fetlocks can be harmful. 

Because a dropped fetlock is like disjointment of the back limb. So, when a horse has a fetlock injury, they become impotent to ride. Additionally, if your horse does any other activity with a dropped fetlock, it can cause serious issues as well.  

So, you may be wondering now how to prevent your horse from having this bad experience and what could be the possible treatment for dropped fetlocks. Let's not waste time and see what lies ahead for us. 

The reason behind dropped fetlock

There is a saying “Nothing happens without a reason”. It could be a miracle or a tragedy. Similarly, dropping fetlock is a tragic experience for horses. 

And there are also some reasons behind this fetlock issue such as  

  • Genetics: It is possible that a horse can have a dropped fetlock issue genetically. For a long time, it has been a serious problem for different breeds of horses. Even previous studies and observations confirm that it can be a genetic disease for the horses.
  • Carrying overload: Apart from horse shows or sports, people often use them for carrying loads or burdens. As a result, carrying excessive loads can cause horses’ dropped fetlock.
  • Excessive training: Sometimes we train our equestrians a lot so that they can give the best performance in the sport. But it puts a lot of strain on their limb ligaments which causes their fetlock injury.
  • Wrong movement: A simple wrong movement can cause serious foot problems. Such as fractures, leg sprains, dislocation of joints, and so on. For our equine fellows, it is possible that they may experience any sprain or joint dislocation due to any wrong step. Which can cause their fetlock to drop.
  • Injury or trauma: For racehorses, it is common for them to get injured during their sport. During the race, horses exert a high concussive force on their fetlock. And because of their vulnerable joints, it can cause injury to their fetlocks.
  • Overuse and improper shoeing: Shoeing can aid the horse's stability and protect the hooves as well. But sometimes overuse of shoeing can be harmful to horses. In fact, improper shoeing can be another reason for this dropped fetlock.
  • Poor nutrition: Lack of proper nutrition in feeding horses can cause not only weakness but also clumsiness. And that could be a reason for horses’ ligament weakening and fetlock dropping.

Treatment for a horse’s dropped fetlocks

Dropped fetlock is a serious health issue for horses. It can affect their riding ability if you don't provide proper treatment for dropping fetlock. As there is no permanent cure for this disease, we can consider some therapies for the horse's betterment and comfort. 

Therefore, we’ve discussed some significant ways to treat your equine for dropped fetlocks.

  1. Basic first aid: The first thing we do is basic first aid if any accident or injury occurs. So, we would do the same for horses if they have dropped fetlocks. Because it will aid them to comfort their injured ligament and reduce inflammation.
  2. Physical examination by a veterinarian: After applying basic first aid, you must do a physical test by an experienced veterinarian. Otherwise,  if we keep horses with fetlock injury for too long, there is a possibility of it getting worse.
  3. X-rays and other imaging: If it is difficult to understand while examining the dropped fetlocks, then it would be better to have an x-ray. So that you can easily detect the ligament joint issues that cause fetlock dropping.
  4. Rest, physiotherapy, and other non-surgical options: Almost every injury, like fractures, sprains, strains, and dislocations can be cured with traditional treatment, which includes anti-inflammatory medication, supported bandages and most importantly a long rest. 

Aside from that, you can use physiotherapy and other non-surgical treatments that veterinarians recommend.

  1. Surgery as a last resort: If none of the above methods can cure the horse, then surgery is the last option to treat their dropped fetlock. Besides, there is a chance to improve a horse's fetlock injury through a surgical procedure. 

Is it possible to treat the horse after reading some lines! Of course not. It is a practical matter and it will be best if we get a visual representation. So, out of concern for the horse's well-being and your convenience, we have included a link to learn about how to remove fetlock implantation and fetlock injury and treatment.  

Riding with dropped fetlocks

Dropped fetlock is an uncommon and painful disease for our fellow horses. Most of the time horses get fetlock injuries in sporting events. But if you ride that injured horse or do other training and exercise, it will get worse. As a result, this may not only affect the horse's riding ability but can also cripple them permanently.

In this circumstances it becomes impossible for horses to move properly, where riding is a far cry! 

This is why all experienced veterinarians recommend rest for injured horses. Because it takes nine months to a year to recover from a fetlock injury. So make sure to limit their physical movement and other activities.

There are some common strategies which can help you to minimize those risks such as using a properly fitting saddle, avoiding certain types of physical activities e.g. riding or exercising, and keeping horses away from shoeing. In a word, keep your horses away from any kind of movement and activities.  

Make sure you are providing all the necessary treatment and comfort to your injured horse. It will help to recover the dropped fetlock soon. 

Winding Up

Overall, it is undeniable that dropped fetlock can be a serious health issue for horses. But if you notice this disease early, it will help you to start the treatment as soon as possible. So make sure you have knowledge about what can cause them to drop fetlock. 

And always communicate with experienced veterinarians to know the treatment procedure, as well as with a professional trainer to ensure the horse’s comfort and safety. 

Because it will help you to prevent all the possible risks which could happen to your horse due to fetlock injury. In the end, it’s all about the good health and safety of our endear horses, so it's our duty to keep them well. 

If you have any other thoughts about riding a horse with a dropped fetlock please share them with us in the comment section.

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