Q: I have an 18-year-old Quarter Horse that was diagnosed with bone spavin a couple of years ago. He’s been comfortable with traditional protocol until recently. I’ve started him on hock injections, but now they are not as effective. He is very active in both performance and gaming events.

What I understand is that once the lower hock joint fuses the horse is no longer in pain and it usually doesn’t change the horse’s gait, or slightly at the very least. I read the study which was done regarding alcohol joint fusion and its effectiveness on the disease. I want to make an educated choice for my horse, and this sounds too good to be true. I’ve mentioned it to my vet, and he says he doesn’t like to destroy joints if he doesn’t have to. Isn’t that what is happening now with this disease (osteoarthritis)? Is this a good choice or should I stay with the traditional treatments?

Karen Daugherty, Toledo, Ore.


A: The first point is that an 18-year-old competing Quarter Horse is fantastic and a testament to the care he has received over his lifetime. "Hock injections" tend to be steroid-based (with or without a disease-modifying agent such as hyaluronic acid) and as such are potent anti-inflammatory drugs. However, the degree to which they act and the duration over which they act in an individual horse are dependent on the stage of the disease, the amount of exercise (or work), and the horse himself. These drugs might slow the progression of arthritis, but they will not stop it, and therefore over time these type of