From Endurance to Dressage
Many years ago, Montoya injured her stifle. She got hung up in a blanket and strained the soft tissue. As a result, the tendon would hook on the femur giving her a hitch in her gait. After a few moments, the tendon would flip back over the patella and she would be sound.
Two weeks ago, I saw the exact same irregularity in Yellow Dog's gait.
Yellow Dog is a rambunctious, four year old Labrador Retriever. She's had several lameness issues and illnesses over her short life, all of which we've been able to mange.
Both dogs have a drawer full of medications. Tobias, our black lab, suffers from anxiety so he occasionally gets a bit of Ace; New Year's eve and the Fourth of July are not his favorite days of the year. He also gets a bit achey so we have some pain relievers for him. Both dogs also get a daily MovoFlex chew, a joint supplement.
When I saw Yellow Dog take that first "hitchy" step, I knew she had a stifle injury. My husband used to be a bit skeptical about my ability to diagnose canine issues, but that was long ago. We don't go to the vet until I feel it's a red flag issue. For this, I knew what it was, I just didn't know how severe it might be. My worst fear was that she had suffered a torn cruciate ligament. When after a week she was no better, I called the vet.
Yesterday afternoon, my husband drove both dogs to the vet, and I met him there after work. He took Tobias for a walk and then joined me in the exam room. While he's a very capable man, my husband doesn't do vet appointments the way I do. You know what I mean. There are 10,000 questions to ask: What's wrong? How do we fix it? What do we do if that doesn't work? How long should I wait to see if this will work? What's the long term prognosis? He asks 1 or 2 questions, maybe, pays the bill, and brings me home the checkout sheet. That's why I talk to the vet.
When Dr. Thurman was finally able to see us, he must have been really busy, I gave him the run down: what her gait looked like, how long it had been, and what we were doing about it. He manipulated the joint, laid her on her side to manipulate it even more, and then diagnosed it as a patellar luxation. I hate it when I'm right.
Basically, the knee cap is popping out of place and then snapping back in. I actually had the same injury a number of years ago, but mine took several days to pop back in. I still guard that knee carefully. Anyway, the prognosis is ... mixed. We started her on some anti-inflammatories hoping that will reduce any inflammation which might help the knee cap stay in place. If so, great. If not, she might just have to live with it. Sort of.
If the patella continues to slide out of the groove, or track, in which it should slide up and down, it might eventually wear it down enough so that it slides more easily. This of course results in a lot less stability, but it won't be as painful. There are some possible surgical options like tacking everything in place, but we're not really looking at that as an option.
For now, we'll give the anti-inflammatories a try. It took Montoya the better part of year to heal, but she did go back to endurance racing and never had a relapse. Fingers crossed for Yellow Dog.
Here's an excellent article on Luxating Patella in dogs.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
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Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
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