Fracture Lameness in Horse

by Joanie Detlefsen on April 28, 2015

in backs,horses,Saddles,Solutions

Like a dog who’s jaw involuntarily locks when it gets ahold of something, I wanted my racehorse’s back to be strong. Especially after retiring him from the track. His last race was at Pimlico and it was a December day. A Merry Christmas was sorely lacking in 2004 at my home.

Already keenly involved in his sports therapy when racing Crimson ‘N Gold’s back was always problematic. WOW Saddles came into my life because of this with the Korrector saddle pad before I ever moved  into the saddles themselves. Now WOW, First Thought Equine, has a 21st century Racing Exercise Saddle complete and available. I hope to help owners and trainers find out how lucky that is and sell them one for their horse!

What took me months and years to unravel is just how involved an undisclosed or undiagnosed right hind leg degree-of-injury was with degree-of-performance. Of course in racing when they drop down in races; in the degree of difficulty; turning to Claiming races there is little to no accountability. But there is the ten year old, single, academic (Cornell) study I found and used to figure it out with my veterinarian advising. It is no longer accessible to me online. There is this article, with the icky symptoms of a horse with a fractured pelvis.

Why it’s undisclosed or undiagnosed is probably political because none of the people I know in any capacity in the industry would not want to know. However, you can see something interesting in this picture which is the point of writing this post. See how a back that is comfortable balances the horse when in a good saddle? But wait, this nice square position is a screenshot from a seat lesson on the WOW Performance page and a moment before he was all strung out. Why?


This lesson was in about 2013, before my understanding of his femur fracture. That was already 10 years after he retired roughly speaking. Remarkable or not, insight into how the unsoundness shows up in a well trained horse-athlete requires a lot of commitment, or craziness.

Now this gelding, Crimson ‘N Gold, at the time we raced besides having a chronically sore back; tossing riders; generally making almost everything a battle; we thought was unsound in the right fore. No one could ever pinpoint a specific site. Me included and I take a significant amount of personal ego into being able to find the source of stuff – cue the dog with a lock-jaw. Was it the hoof – in the foot; the knee which has a significant scar straight across it; or the shoulder which had a lot of yes votes. Guess again, guess right this time, of course it was the right hind.

Once it was understood he had fractured his femur and raced with it to some degree we had a big turn around. Imagine the tummy distress he bears. He bears everything with his stoic thoroughbred heart, like a comic no less.

Caring for it under these chronic conditions is using the same PEMFp (pulsed electromagnetic field pad) I bring to a saddle fitting. From its menu of settings the most dominant distress expression (symptom) is selected. Horses, and all bodies, always seek to balance its’ system. Racing taxes the system with a heavy load to rejigger as quickly as it can. Fitting a saddle on a relaxed back that relaxes because of it reestablishing  balance makes the body’s job a lot easier.

If I ever gave fractures thought in a horse they were in a lower limb, not up in the hip. The degrees of injury to this particular area are becoming my specialty. Getting a WOW saddle is a huge help. Learning how to sit properly makes a world of difference. With care and time, nutrition and proper exercise – plenty of ‘free schooling’ aka playing with field is great too. While my racehorse and I settle into a WOW dressage saddle, you can help your riders gallop and balance muscles in a WOW, buy from my shop.

If you are racing and the racetrack is short, then run only in short races or none there if you can help it. A default to turf might be the best thing to do, too! Consult with a good trainer.

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