Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hock injections: Not European

I was reading this article about the George Morris Clinic at Gladstone: George H. Morris Gladstone Program Kicks Off at the USET Foundation's Hamilton Farm -- George Morris invited German veterinarian and leading expert in biomechanics, Dr. Gerd Heuschmann to talk to the young riders in the program. Heuschmann made some interesting comments, including:

  •  "The United States is the only country where veterinarians give hock injections." 
  • "Sixty percent of lameness problems cannot be diagnosed; however, if you understand the horse, balance and seat, lameness problems can be fixed in a matter of days without unnecessary steroids." 
  • "The hand is made in your seat."
I wanna have lunch with this guy! I want to know so much more about these statements. The first one hardly seems true! I wonder if it has more to do with the attitude that Europeans have toward their horses (it is more of an industry than a hobby there). 


  1. I'm Australian and hock injections are rare here. To be honest, I was shocked when I started reading blogs years ago about how often hock injections are administered in the US.

    1. I'm Aussie too, and yeah - me too. I am not sure why they seem to be so prevalent?

  2. We totally have hock injections here in Canada. I can't really comment as to their use in relation to sport horses, but standardbred racehorses have them done all the time.

    (Also, I'd say that the hand is made in your back but that might just be a personal thing)

  3. I'm British - and my old cob had steroid injections into his hock for arthritis about four years ago. It wasn't thought of as unusual then and isn't now as far as I know.

  4. FD (anonymous because I can't log in for some reason)
    He's being a trifle hyperbolic - we (in the UK and Europe) totally do use hock injections, but he is correct that they are not the go-to method (even in high level competition) that they appear to be in the US. They tend not to be used for ongoing issues - mostly, if the horse isn't going to be sound for the work intensity required without them, it will be downgraded, or turned away in the hopes that Dr Green will fix it. As with commenters Lisa and Bonita, I too was astonished (and am still a little bit horrified) by the prevalence and frequency with which they appear to be used going by people's attitudes to them on blogs. I'm not sure whether that horror is completely justified - I have done some reading on this, and I can see why people can rationalise using them. To me, it seems in line with the general overuse of medication stemming from inadequate regulation and medical commercialisation (see antibiotics) but I could possibly be persuaded otherwise.

    I agree with the comments about riding lameness - there are some interesting studies being done here at the moment about the extent to which horses in the general population that are considered sound are actually unlevel/mildly lame, with top level estimates coming at something like 60%. Which sounds horrifying, but actually, fits with my experience, in that many of these mildly unlevel horses 'work out of it' with correct training and muscle development.
    I'm not sure about that 'days' claim though... I would generally expect it to take a rather longer, although it's true that a sufficiently skilled rider can 'ride the horse sound' temporarily, but it will revert immediately a less skilled rider gets on board.


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