Getting Western Horses Back to Work After Stifle Surgery

Prevailing wisdom has been that Western disciplines are too physically demanding to allow athletes to return to work after arthroscopic stifle surgery. A study presented at the 2019 AAEP Convention found this isn’t necessarily the case.
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Getting Western Horses Back to Work After Stifle Surgery
Some Western disciplines require quick bursts of speed, strong hind-limb propulsion, abrupt stops, quick turns, and crouching positions that tax a horse's stifles and hindquarters. | Photo: iStock
Prevailing wisdom has been that cutting, reining, barrel racing, cow horse, and other Western equine sports are too physically demanding to allow athletes to return to work following arthroscopic stifle surgery. Such disciplines require quick bursts of speed, strong hind-limb propulsion, abrupt stops, quick turns, and crouching positions that tax a horse’s stifles and hindquarters.

“Historically, some people have thought that Western performance horses have a poorer prognosis after stifle arthroscopy than horses in other sport horse disciplines,” Laurie Goodrich, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, professor of orthopedics and Interim Director of the Orthopedic Research Center at Colorado State University’s (CSU) Department of Clinical Sciences, told peers during the 65th American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, which is currently underway in Denver.

But is it true?

“We really questioned that,” she said

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Betsy Lynch has been an equine industry professional for 30-plus years as an editor, writer, photographer, and publishing consultant. Her work appears in breed, performance, and scientific journals. Betsy owns her own business, Third Generation Communications. She is a graduate of Colorado State University, continues to keep horses, and lives near Fort Collins, Colorado.

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