rehabbing a soft tissue injury - why is it so nerve wrecking?
i'm rehabbing my mare from a hind suspensory branch injury. it was diagnosed in may and she underwent various treatments. at this point we have an okay to walk under saddle. i was so looking forward to that but i find the whole experience emotionally draining. my heart stops at every stumble, slip or trip that i feel. we walk the trails with vet's permission. you know how trails are uneven here, bumpy there. i'd never pay attention to that but now i focus on every 'bump.'
she's a good patient, doesn't try to run, stays pretty calm (although she did run around in her paddock saturday as if to prove me wrong). but i feel like i need sedatives to keep myself calm
i guess it's really a vent and a call for support not so much a call for solution.
I totally know how you feel. They are long, trying rehabs and you just hold your breath when they do something that could be detrimental to their progress. I'm in month 5 of a rehab for SI and hind suspensory issues.
I think at some point I just kind of let go of it and realized that usually the rehab protocols have lots of wiggle room in them for "extracurricular activities" . It was hard, but I knew I had to let go a bit and realize that my boy was going to still be a horse and I just hoped that he didn't do anything that would truly damage himself.
i try to remind myself that i can't (nor am i willing to) wrap her up in bubble wrap or lock her in a stall. i'm prepared for 6 + months of walking. wish i had an ultrasound machine at the barn so i could just look at it and see what's happening. our next visit is in december. i'm already anxious about what we'll find after 3 months of walking...
Sometimes you just gotta have faith and trust nature to do its job with as much support as you can provide. My gelding was out 24/7 after his right front suspensory strain, which probably happened thanks to running on a sugar high and hyper extending the right front while sliding in the mud. Stall rest was not an option, only diet changes. He healed up just fine. You can control only so much. Sometimes one just needs to let go.
The vet at the time also recommended Nutrawound to help the healing process along.
I don't know if muscles are considered 'soft tissue' (I feel like such a moron not knowing that ), but my mare had/has an injury to her shoulder muscles of some sort, and when I was cleared to ride after a month off, I was a nervous wreck too. It was just walking too, we weren't cleared for trotting until like a month ago, and the injury happened in June. But every time she'd stumble or trip, I felt like I was going to have a heart attack and die, nevermind the horse!
As others said, I think vets recognize horses aren't kept in totally safe sterile no-risk labs or anything, but are in the real world. When they clear you for things, I think they know the risks of a little trip or stumble are there, and calculate the risks of that is less than the risks of not getting the horse loosened up and exercised a bit.
So relax, don't worry, keep breathing.. and if your heart stops, just pound on your chest a bit, it'll start up again after your horse trips, I promise.
Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!
All of the above. Every slight mis-step makes you wonder if a-they are lame or b-the step is going to make them lame. You wonder if they ever will be sound again. You worry about something stupid happening while you are hand or tack walking, and they get away, and undo everything.
Today is the six-month anniversary of Star's suspensory injury (followed by collateral ligament strain diagnosis) and I leave shortly for the barn to tack walk.
Yes I feel your pain. Two tendon injuries almost back to back will do that to a person. Every little incline or every tree root looks like a death trap! I can remember too once I started riding him again, feeling a stumble or mis-step would create immediate panic - OMG did he just reinjure himself or is he lame??? Not to mention checking for heat or puffy legs like a person with OCD.
Just keep breathing! If you're back to walking, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
"Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower
Marta, I have no advice to offer, but tons of sympathy. My old lady mare was prone to various tendon injuries and the rehabbing put more gray on my head than just about anything else. I know I gasped and hid my eyes every time she'd canter in turnout, every trip was a blown ligament, every odd step a new tear in a tendon. It got to where I had to have Mr. CH feel her legs because I was feeling heat and puffiness everywhere. I was a nervous wreck.
A little positive: My old girl got through all of hers OK. There were a few setbacks, and it about killed me, but we just had to take a few steps back in terms of treatment/rest and start over. Even the last one, which involved a torn tendon sheath and numerous adhesions that wouldn't stop happening, has healed OK after much time. The old girl turns 20 next year and is sound.
I had a wonderful opportunity to take a class where we studied lower leg anatomy and then dissected some legs. All my frustrations from years of rehabbing horses suddenly made sense. That suspensory ligament and the flexor tendons are TOUGH. They are hard to cut with a sharp scalpel! They have fibers that go in one direction. You can stand the leg up and cut the suspensory ligament and watch the whole fetlock drop to the ground. I had a new appreciatation for how tough these structures are, and how much time it takes to heal them. Bones heal more quickly than connective tissue!
Go slow with your rehab, and know that many many many horses have come back from suspensory injuries to return at the top levels of their sport. You are through the worst part. You have no control over the future. You could easily lose this horse to colic, a broken leg, or something else. Enjoy her and be smart. Good luck!
I am worried about rehab myself. My gelding is still on stall rest for his collateral ligament pastern injury. He is 1/5 on ashfault and sound on the lounge. In a month or two my vet wants me to start mounted walk hoping he will be sound.
This means I am to start him in Dec/Jan if all goes well. Only thing is the weather around here will likely be wet, or frosty and frozen so the footing will likely not be ideal for rehab. But I don't feel good about keeping him couped up until spring and he is not calm on turnout, so I don't know what is best.
my mare is 18 but the vet told me that there is scar tissue in that leg indicative of prior injuries (how did i miss that??? and how did she recover from it to be sound while i was riding her???).
Marta, your mare may be a tough girl like mine! The first tendon injuries also revealed evidence of past, more minor injuries. My mare is just very, very stoic, really loves to work and tries hard to please. I think she was blowing through the pain until she just couldn't anymore. Each of her four (yes, four!) injuries was in the moderate-to-severe category and I think in all but one (a pasture injury due to ugly behavior by a dominant mare) it's because she never gave any signs until she was in a lot of pain. So don't feel bad about missing anything ... your clever girl may have been very good at hiding signs from you and there's not much you can do about that.
My mare's tendency to tough things out is why I chose to take her out of heavier work (I actually tried to retire her, but she moped, didn't eat and drink well, and actually seemed worse). So now I ride her regularly, but pay very close attention to how she looks and feels the day after, and generally don't ride her two days in a row. But she is OK now; I took her to a little schooling show a couple of weeks ago ... the first time in at least four years ... and she kicked butt. Just very, very low-level stuff, but she was happy to be out and doing again (and getting all the attention that comes from being the only pinto in a sea of bays at a show with lots of kids!).
Originally Posted by Watermark Farm
Enjoy her and be smart. Good luck!
Watermark summed up the attitude I try to take with my old girl very well!
your girl sounds special what discipline do you show in?
my mare is stoic although she totally lacks work ethic in arena setting. but she does enjoy working on trails and as a distance rider we did a lot of that so i guess she just plodded right through pain and injuries. or maybe it all happened before she came into my life 10 years ago?
anyway, thank you and thanks watermark for putting it succinctly. i did just that this beautiful am while doing our 20 minute arena workout at a walk.
your girl sounds special what discipline do you show in?
Awww, thanks; I think she is very special, as she is the long, long-awaited culmination of all my childhood dreams to have a Horse of My Very Own. She's not really special -- on the small size, average movement, etc. -- but she has a big heart and I loff her. She's done a variety of things well at a low level under a less-than-brilliant rider. I never realized how much she liked to work until I tried to retire her. She's quiet enough to put tiny tots on safely, and clever enough to pop in a few minor challenges as her young riders start to learn the ropes. I could go on and on and on, but I'll shut up now.
I mostly show dressage, with the occasional h/j show here and there. The old girl also did a little western pleasure and trail back in the day. My current competition horse is a doll, too, and I adore her, but the old lady is my heart-horse.
my mare is also the culmination of my life long dream to have a horse of my own and i love her to death. she's my buddy. that's why i just cannot imagine our riding partnership being over so early (at 18) in her life. i can live without competing but i will be heartbroken the day i find out that i cannot hack her.
we had a good ride in the safety of the outdoor arena where the footing is relatively even and not too deep, so none of the gasp moments then i took her for a walk down the paved driveway listening to her hooves clip clopping and trying to figure out if her injured leg sounds any more stilted than before... it's madness i tell you!
Oh yes, I do the listen to every hoof beat on the pavement thing. I listen and stare at the way he walks probably every time I bring him in and turn him out! Maybe we should start a therapy group or something