View Full Version : Little Encouragement --tendon rehab blues

Nov. 15, 2009, 08:25 PM
My girl is 3/4 of the way through her rehab from her SDFT tear in July. She is up to trotting 8 mins and things have been looking good. 10 week ultrasound showed great amount of healing. She has had no heat, pain, or swelling in the tendon since we started walking or trotting.

She is still on stall rest other than the 45 minutes a day she works and some hand grazing on weekends.

If all continues to go well she should canter in early January and go back to turn out after she canters for 15 mins. She is being a very good patient, but its still hard to manage her energy to ride her at times. Some days she's great and some days I can't get on her without some dorm. I put her on fluphenazine for the first time about a month ago. That made a big difference, but she still has certain days where she just can't keep quiet enough to be ridden without the dorm.

I am riding 6 days a week to keep the rehab going. And have been out at the barn 6 days a week since July. My husband is supportive, but its starting to get tiring. Finding any help to ride her is difficult since she isnt' reliably quiet. I am totally committed to this rehab schedule, but DAMN this gets tiring.

Sorry for the venting. She is sound and getting better and I should be really happy, but I am just having one of those days where I've just had enough. I want to turn her out so badly I can taste it. More than wanting to jump or canter her. I just want to stop giving her all the tranquilizers, turn her out and let her be a horse again.

Ok...deeep breath...look at the positive...she is sound.

Nov. 15, 2009, 09:49 PM
Rehab is definitely not fun. But at least your horse is sound and healing and it sounds like your progressing along. Ask me about the month of trot that took three months... All in all, it was almost a year before we were jumping.

I remember wishing that I could give Star something so he could have the mental effect of a turnout without destroying himself physically. He was in training throughout so at least there was someone to ride him on the days I couldn't get to the barn or on the few occasions when he decided that spinning and leaping seemed fun.

Nov. 15, 2009, 09:58 PM
tendons are funny, we know in the wild that horses must damage tendons but of course they dont lock themselves in stalls:lol::lol::lol: so maybe letting them heal themselves is best, the more we lock them up and control their outbursts the worse it gets and if you just let a horse out, in a few minutes it will be done and life is calm the rest of the time.....


Nov. 15, 2009, 10:29 PM
Just a reminder, Friday.

My favorite vet often talks about tendons this way. If you take a piece of string and pull on it slowly, it will hold for a long time before it starts to break.
But if you take the string and SNAP it quickly, it will break.
That's the way he explains the turnout and tendon healing dilemma. I know it gets tiresome and I know the tranquilizer gets tiresome but you have to just manage. Stall rest is not the worst thing that could happen to your horse, and rehabbing slowly and carefully NOW will be giving you back the soundest possible healing scenario for the next phase of her life. Do it right and keep the faith! I know it's hard! :) Hang in there. Hey think about feeding a low starch feed without molasses, too, I have heard good results on this sort of feed change for the horses on stall rest.

Nov. 16, 2009, 07:23 AM
Hang on and get through it - sounds like you're doing great! Don't give in to that turnout temptation...the string analogy is a good one and all your hard work could go down the tubes in one leap. One thing that helps my rehabbing horse is putting earplugs in his ears. Playing music in the arena can help too - no little sounds to startle him.

Drugs are your friend - remember horses don't know they are using them. All they know is how they feel in the moment, and calm is calm.

Nov. 16, 2009, 09:26 AM
I share your pain...the FatPaintMare recovering from a tear in the check ligament...

I thought handwalking was bad. Now we're walking under saddle for 30 minutes - like taking your life in your hands!

Nov. 16, 2009, 09:31 AM
It sounds like you are being very conscientious and doing a wonderful job! I have been there-- rehab is NOT fun.

Nov. 16, 2009, 09:38 AM
Ask me about rehabbing hind suspensories, and a YEAR of surgery, stall rest, short walks, longer walks, really long walks, and onwards. I feel your pain. If you're having trouble with her being fresh and sassy, talk to your vet about something like reserpine - it's a long acting tranquilizer that can take the edge off (at least in my experience), and I found it preferable for the long-term rehab over using ace. I didn't like fluphenazine, though I understand some folks use it very successfully. We also found moving his stall to the center of the barn where there was alot to look at and always keeping hay in front of him (and very little grain) were key to surviving stall rest. Good luck!

Nov. 16, 2009, 10:05 AM
I'll add to the sympathy vote. Mine is on week 2 of hand-walking, which should have happened about 6 weeks ago. His injury, however, was never diagnosed as he became sound with rest & nothing turned up on x-ray or ultrasound.

I didn't really have any luck with reserpine or ace (or combining them). Now using rompun for each walk.

I finally gave up on the stall rest - my horse was so insane that no matter which drugs he was getting, our "walks", i.e. rearing, running, leaping, slipping and falling, were worse than what he eventually did in a very small turn-out.

I am definitely worried about what that could mean for his rehab, but it finally came to a point where turn-out was my only option short of putting him down, basically.

Nov. 16, 2009, 10:28 AM
tendons are funny, we know in the wild that horses must damage tendons but of course they dont lock themselves in stalls:lol::lol::lol:

no...but they may get eaten by something instead of healing.

Seriously...sometimes t/o and just giving time is the best thing...but not always. Often it is best to do the lay up...slow rehab...and THEN turn them out for longer.

We, vets and competitors, also know so much more now about how to heal a horse from a tendon than 10 years ago. The amount of horses that can be successfully brought back now is much higher than it used to be. There is also healing...and there is coming back to full competitive use. Depending on the horse and injury....locking them up and doing a controlled rehab is some times the best hope an owner may have to bringing an injured horse back to full competitive use.

OP...just hang in there....you are almost through. Perhaps talk to your vet about letting you do some turn out sooner rather than later. 15 minutes of canter is a lot. I have typically been able to start turning out (usually drugged) once we had been cantering for a week or two weeks. I would ride them...then turn them out.

Nov. 16, 2009, 10:44 AM
What we did for the extended rehab horse was literally make a "turn out" the size of a big stall -- 14 x 14 with round pen panels. It worked wonders for him as he got the mental relief of going outside without the ability to do any more than he could in the stall! We started with 30 min and got him up to 6 hrs outside a day (during the day when we could keep a close eye on his recreational activities!)

good luck with your horse!

Nov. 16, 2009, 12:20 PM
It's tough, and that's a big time commitment on your part, and I understand the husband issue.

It there a pro that you trust that you can pay to ride your horse for you for a few days so that you can take a long weekend off with your man? That might be enough to give you a bit of a break and keep you both going through your long rehab schedule.

Best of luck!

Nov. 16, 2009, 12:23 PM
I know just how you feel (actually most of us on this board probably do :no:) and you have my full sympathy!! It sucks royally
HRH and I are in month 9 of rehab. Thanks to the &^$%^%$%^ rain, even though she could have gone out for an hour or 2 in the small dirt paddock the last 3 weeks, because it has instead been the quagmire-of-mud paddock, she has been turned out in it 4 times in that period instead of every day. I either exhaust myself by jamming in visits to the barn to handgraze her every day or I feel guilty because she has been trapped all day and I don't go (although the morning feeder handgrazes her a bit most mornings).
I am lucky though in that she tolerates it really well in terms of not being totally loopy when I bring her out of the stall, although without drugs when she is turned out there is usually a buck or 2 and a fart after she rolls which is not an authorized activity. :sigh:
Friday1- hang in there!! it will get better. just hang on to the fact that your horse is sound, getting better and you are close to the promise land of turnout!

Nov. 16, 2009, 12:52 PM
Another been-there, done-that. IMO, THIS is the hardest part of the whole dang thing -- the immense amount of time/energy you spend trying to get them closer to the holy grail of undrugged, unsupervised turnout.

For what it's worth, I just rehabbed my guy from a bilateral hind suspensory injury and although he is a total prince, he did blow up pretty spectacularly several times in the initial phases of turnout (more than once, right through the drugs, with me pathetically pleading with him to stop as he tore past me, reared, bucked, slid to a stop, over and over:eek::eek:....it's kind of a weird juxtaposition, actually, as the horse is in a paroxysm of joy, and you are nearly hysterical with tears).

He healed beautifully.

They are horses, and I think any good vet who has supervised these sorts of rehab knows that SOONER or LATER, they will blow. That's why they want you to wait until the healing is really underway before you get to that stage.

That being said, when you get there, try not to panic (try.) if he wigs out once or twice. I think it happens to all of us.

Nov. 18, 2009, 10:20 PM
What we did for the extended rehab horse was literally make a "turn out" the size of a big stall -- 14 x 14 with round pen panels. It worked wonders for him as he got the mental relief of going outside without the ability to do any more than he could in the stall! We started with 30 min and got him up to 6 hrs outside a day (during the day when we could keep a close eye on his recreational activities!)!

I would give this approach serious consideration, especially since you are beginning to burn out on the daily grind. It works great for many horses including my own TB, who is generally easy-going but cannot handle stall rest. He is fine in the stall, but it is taking your life into your hands to hand-walk him without ace or xylazine, and riding was a thousand times worse. And honestly, even under sedation he pulled some serious aerial maneuvers that could have easily resulted in a reinjury, not to mention the added risk to the rider. Reserpine was little help and fluphenazine is now hard to come by so I was tired enough and frustrated enough to switch to a small paddock (my disposable income is not sufficient to pay someone else to do the rehab, which would be my choice if I had the $$ since the time needed is much more than I can spare). Worked fabulously - the horse's behavior was exactly as though he had been turned out in his regular field. I sedated him for turnout the first couple of days, but after that he was just fine. What he craved was the rhythm and routine of going out with the other horses and coming back in with them, and the fact that he was by himself in a slowly expanding stall-sized round pen while outside was irrelevant. My sanity and the horse's would have benefited had I done it much earlier. I also found that my horse was active enough during turnout (just walking around) that I felt very comfortable taking intermittent days off the hand-walking or walking under saddle, which made the process infinitely more bearable.

Best of luck with your horse. You are obviously committed to getting her through this injury, but try not to do it at the expense of your sanity, health, and marital bliss!