Q: I own a 16-year-old Welsh Cob. When he was four years old, he had an upwardly fixated patella (stifle) and had to have the ligament cut to release it. Twelve years on, the stifle is starting to slip out again. Is there anything I can do to stop this happening?
Jo Holmes MRCVS replies: The operation that your horse had 12 years ago is less commonly performed nowadays, and instead of cutting the ligament, we treat this condition by trying to build up the horse’s quadricep muscles to assist in unlocking during exercise.
The first thing I’d recommend is that you put your horse on a supplement which contains shark’s cartilage and is specially designed to encourage joint flexibility, such as Cortaflex by Equine America.
Start a careful exercise programme. Begin by walking your horse up hills and then later, as he becomes stronger, do the same in trot. This will help to build up his quadriceps and improve his muscle tone, and should also help to maintain joint alignment, giving the stifle some support. Long term, I’m afraid the joint may become arthritic due to his operation.