Stifle Abnormalities In Weanlings Can Improve By Yearling Year

by | 04.19.2017 | 8:22am

Thoroughbreds sold at auction are inspected carefully by veterinarians to ensure that their potential new owners have the best shot at purchasing a healthy animal. In addition to a hands-on inspection, the vet will look closely at the horse's X-rays that are stored in the repository, reports The Horse.

While every buyer is hoping for an animal with clean legs (meaning there is nothing out of the ordinary on the films), the veterinarian may find abnormalities of varying importance. These “flaws” can lead to a lower purchase price at auction depending upon their type and location, due to concern those abnormalities may negatively impact a horse's racing career. Researchers have learned recently that some types of stifle abnormalities may resolve before the horse ever sets foot on a racetrack.

Deborah L. Spike-Pierce, DVM, of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., and some of her colleagues discovered several types of stifle abnormalities that showed up on X-rays in weanlings being prepped for the sale resolved by the time the horses arrived in the sales ring as yearlings. Dr. Spike-Pierce reported on her findings at the 2016 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention.

The group evaluated 1,444 stifle radiographs from 722 Thoroughbred weanlings for osteochondrosis (OC)/osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD) in the femoropatellar joint (knee cap). They also looked for changes in the medial femoral condyle (MFC, the bottom of the femur). They then examined the same horses' X-rays when they returned to the sale as yearlings.

Some of the team's key findings included:

  • Abnormalities were vastly different in weanlings than in yearlings
  • 64 percent of MFC changes improved by the time the horses were yearlings
  • 80 percent of yearlings had Femoropatellar OC/OCD that resolved

Read more at The Horse.

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