Sport Horse Medicine
By Chuck Maker, DVM
An 8 year old warmblood mare used for dressage pulled up acutely lame in her left hind limb after cross country at her last event and developed a marked swelling below the point of her left hock within a few hours. While her degree of left hind lameness was only slight, this mare resented deep palpation of the swelling below her left hock. She became lamer following sustained flexion of the hock. An ultrasonogram revealed tearing of the plantar ligament (PL) diagnosing plantar ligament Desmitis or "curb".
"Curb" refers to any swelling at the back of the hock. Soft tissue structures located there, include skin, subcutaneous connective tissue, deep and superficial digital flexor tendons and the plantar ligament. Trauma to any of these structures 'can create a convex profile at the back of the hock. For accurate treatment and prognosis, it's critical to use diagnostic imaging to specifically identify the damaged tissue. In this case, ultrasonography proved to be diagnostic and afforded us an accurate diagnosis and necessary treatment.
We treated this patient with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, topical DMSO/corticosteroid and an exercise regimen of rest with daily walking. After six weeks, the mare resumed training. Give us, Alpine Animal Hospital, a call at 963.2371 if you have any gait or lameness concerns on your sport horse.