Radiographs of a horse's limb joints are an important part of the pre-purchase examination for any performance prospect; the goal is to find any problems that might cause lameness down the road. However, it appears that in cutting horses at least, certain lesions seen on radiographs of the stifle joint just don't hurt a horse's performance as much as many have thought. Myra Barrett, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVR, a clinical instructor in the radiology department at Colorado State University, discussed the results of a study examining sale repository radiographs and performance records of 432 yearling and 2-year-old cutting horses at the 2010 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 4-8 in Baltimore, Md.

Stifle Abnormality

This grade 4 abnormality in the stifle displays well defined lesion in the weight bearing portion of the MFC.

"Radiograph repository studies exist for Thoroughbreds, but results in Thoroughbreds aren't necessarily comparable to Quarter Horses," she began. "Different breeds and disciplines can have distinct orthopedic problems, and the stresses on the horses vary with individual Western performance disciplines."

The research team on this study examined the radiographic characteristics of 432 horses sold for cutting as yearlings and 2-year-olds, specifically focusing on the medial femoral condyle (inner joint surface at the lower end of the femur). Shape and quality of