DURING A SPECIAL American Association of Equine Practitioners session held on lameness concerns in Standardbreds, two leading equine veterinarians took an in-depth look at the growing problem of rear ankle injuries.
Mike Ross, a veterinarian at the New Bolton Center for the University of Pennsylvania in Kennett Square, Pa., is seeing more hind ankle problems associated with hock disease than in the past. In fact, he maintains rear ankle problems with Standardbreds are as critical today as the traditional hind hock concerns. These problems with rear ankles can be due to bone remodeling, P1 fractures or bone stress.
“It’s important to look at these horses at the track,” says Ross. “It can be hard to see hind limb lameness in a parking lot. These horses appear much more lame on the track and the dynamics of lameness can change when you get the cart behind the horse.
“Some of these horses seem to outrun their bones. Bone bruising is probably as good a term as any to refer to these stress-related bone changes.
“Rest is a four-letter word on the track, but that’s what’s really needed for rear ankle injured horses. You need to give the horse time to allow the bones to catch up with the rest of their growth. Rear ankle injuries bother trotters more than pacers.”
Rear ankle problems have become such a concern that many trainers are having X-rays made of newly purchased horses immediately after the yearling sales. If…