Gracie's Stifle Story

Gracie’s Locking Stifle and My Vet’s Recommended Treatment Options

Ever had a horse with a locking stifle? Did it make you cringe to watch him/her walk? It does me. Every time I see Gracie’s leg pop the way it does it makes me cringe and hurt for her. It looks like it has to be so painful.

Here’s a video of her from a week ago when it was pretty bad.

As you can see in the video, she would drag her right back leg a little ways and then pull it forward and upon doing so it would pop. Looks painful right?

Well my guess would be it is painful for her and having her on Bute helps. Not only does Bute help with the pain but it also is helping with any inflammation. When I first started to notice Gracie’s leg doing this I immediately started her on Bute. After a few days on the Bute it went away completely. I thought it was a fluke at the time because it went away but after her coming off the Bute and being on stall rest it returned.

So me being me, I started doing a lot of research online. I read anything and everything I could find about Locking Stifles in horses, so that I could be better educated before the vet came and able to make the right treatment decisions. Basically what I found out while reading is that Locking Stifles is seen more in younger horses that have been trained for a while and then left alone. Their muscles lose definition/tightness and when this happens the ligaments along the stifle become loose and can catch. Another cause for it, is the loss of fluids around the stifle joints.

So what are the treatments recommended for my horse by my vet?

  1. Adequan Injections – Give 1 injection once a week for 4 weeks then as needed. Each injection cost about $45-$50 dollars. This type of injection is long acting and given through the muscle.
  2. Legend Injection – I’m not sure on how often this injection would have to be done since it is short acting. We didn’t discuss this one in detail because she didn’t think it was needed. However, I can tell you this has to be given by the vet as it is an IV injection.
  3. Bute and Turn out – Give 1 gm of Bute a day for 5 days then none for 2. Do this rotation for a month then see how she is. In the meantime leave out 24/7 so she is constantly moving.
  4. Shoeing with Wedge pads – The cost of this will depend on your farrier. The purpose of adding wedge pads is to increase the angle of the foot and to bring the heel up. This has been proven to help some horses and not others.
  5. Chiropractic Care- If the back end is out of line then that can lead to locking stifle issues. Again the cost of this will depend on a professional in your area. I’ve had a Chiro come out to work on Vinni and it is well worth the money. The Chiro in my area charges $60 per horse.
  6. Exercise – Now my Vet didn’t recommend this for Gracie right now due to the severity of her problem. After we get her feeling better and not locking up as much then I’ll definitely slowly get her out and building muscle. From everything I’ve read online, hill work and trot poles are best. Most people saw a dramatic improvement after doing lots of that type of work.

The prognosis for Gracie at this time is still a mystery. According to my vet, some horses get better and some don’t. I’m hopeful that her locking stifle will clear up with treatment and she will able to go back to barrel racing. I’ve heard from many people that said their horses were able to. After a lot of consideration, I’ve decided to give Bute as recommended and continue to let Gracie have time off while staying out 24/7. I’ve put a call in to my farrier to do wedge pads and called a Chiro. I plan to give both of those a try first and then see how she is. If I don’t see enough improvement then I will move to trying the Adequan injections since those have very good reviews.

Here are other posts about what’s going on with Gracie:

Update for this week (week 2). Gracie’s has been turned out 24/7 since the vet was out last week. She does show some improvements and is not locking up as much or as bad. She isn’t dragging her leg at all, it’s just popping when she steps forward. She’s been on Bute for 5 days so today I didn’t give her any and won’t again tomorrow. I’m hoping both my farrier and Chiro will be out this week but still waiting for conformation.

So that’s what I know. Tell me about what you know. Have you dealt with a Locking Stifle issue with your horse? What treatment did your Vet and you decide on and how did it work?

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    January 9, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Yikes, yikes & yikes. She looks horrible in the video, I’m glad she is getting a little better. I’ve never seen a horse that bad before but I do believe the turnout & a visit with the chiropractor are great decisions.
    Raquel recently posted..What I Wore: Plaid, Fur & SparklesMy Profile

  • Reply
    Update on Gracie: After the Equine Chiropractor
    January 16, 2013 at 8:47 am

    […] « Gracie’s Locking Stifle and My Vet’s Recommended Treatment Options […]

  • Reply
    Terri Barney
    November 3, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Found your post while researching catching stifle, my horse is mild no dragging but will catch a few times while riding. Have tried exercise and estrone shots he is now on adequate. Did Gracie have a complete recovery and did you do more treatments?

    Thank you in advance

    • Reply
      NC Cowgirl
      November 6, 2017 at 7:06 pm

      Hi Terri! Thanks for asking about Gracie. I’m not sure I can say she’s fully recovered because there are times when her stifle still does catch but for the most part it might happen, 1/2 times a year and that’s it. I don’t consider it to be a problem anymore at all. The only thing I found that really helped her was having the chiro out 1 time a month for a year or so. It was definitely costly, but in the end totally worth it for me because I’m able to do everything with her I’ve wanted to do since she got hurt. I don’t believe she could ever be a full time competition horse but I do believe I could compete her a few times a year and she would be fine. However, I’ve chosen to just trail ride her and she does great at that. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  • Reply
    Lisa Johnson
    April 10, 2019 at 8:03 am

    Very great post, thank you so much for sharing this article.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge