"Hand" walking after tendon injury- from horse's back?
Posting as an alter to avoid hard feelings.
My horse had some swelling on her leg last week. She wasn't off, but we handled it as if it were a tendon injury just in case. We've been doing the usual- wrapping, stall rest, light hand walking, etc. etc. etc. You all know the drill. Vet came out to ultrasound a few days ago and confirmed that it was indeed tendon damage. Though it's not the most severe tendon injury in the world (according to my vet- it sure feels like it to me since we're talking about my baby) we're going to do all of the treatments the vet recommends- stem cell, etc.
Vet has instructed me to continue wrapping, stall rest and hand walking, but she said that because of my size (I'm smallish) and because of my horse's size (she's monstrous) I could tack her up and "hand walk from her back." While I would like nothing more than for this to be OK, it worries me. I don't know, it just feels counterintuitive. I've been away from the horse world for a long time so I don't know if this is acceptable these days, or if it always has been, but for some reason I feel like it wouldn't have gone over well in my pony club days.
I want to make sure she has a successful recovery and if the added weight of me on her back will slow things down or do further damage, I won't risk it. Thoughts and opinions are greatly appreciated.
The Great White North, where we get taxed out the wazoo
My vet reccommends the same routine. My guy is getting over a check ligament tear, and I have been told that as soon as he appears sound that I can start riding him at a walk. He feels a lot of horses are more focussed with a rider rather than dancing around "owner dragging" that hand walking often morphs into in a hurry.
I got on him Monday for the first time in over a month and walked for maybe 10 mins max. He us having shockwave treatments and is wrapped continually to protect and suport the area.
Last edited by littlecreek; Dec. 26, 2012 at 11:35 PM.
Reason: Typing on my tablet without glasses, sigh..
If you think she would behave better for under saddle walks than actual hand walks, then I would get on her for her walks. I did actual hand walking with my gelding for 6 months before getting on him to do walk rides (suspensory injury). Honestly, he was much better behaved and probably easier on his ligament during the walk rides than he ever was for hand walking.
During the actual hand walks he frequently reared and slammed down hard on the affected leg. He did less of this when ridden (note...I did not say he *never* did it while ridden...sigh...he was a four year old at the time...the whole stall rest thing was super hard on him). Fact of the matter is that they are all going to do SOMETHING during rehab at some point that just plain is not good for the injury. Most of the time, they get through it okay and come out the other side.
The one thing my vet did tell me was not to ever let him get loose. Actually, when I had to start getting on him to do walking rides, my vet's actual words to me were "whatever you do, don't fall off and let him get loose - that would be a major setback for him." LOL. Thanks for the tip! Instead of falling off as planned, I will make an effort to stay on his back. That said, I have known several horses that have gotten loose during rehab and they have still ended up fine. Stuff happens, even when you are careful. Just do the best you can.
I don't see a problem with "hand walking" on her back, especially if you are small. In the past, I've gotten on to walk recuperating horses that were supposed to be hand walked because with certain horses (especially ones that have been locked in a stall for a long period of time), riding at the walk was safer and easier to control then from the ground. I wouldn't worry about it, just make sure to heed the vet's advice as far as the speed you should be going, length of time, etc. Good luck!
My vet told me the same thing a few years ago when I was rehabbing a mare from stem cell therapy for a check ligament injury. And as others have said, the mare was more focused and better behaved walking under saddle than when I hand walked her.
If the vet ok'd it and I felt comfortable doing it, I'd do the walking under saddle. Some horses are better with a rider than person on the ground. One of my current horses is a total sh!t if I try to hand walk him...he's big, with a giraffe neck that gets swinging, long legs that start flying around (he likes to Spanish walk...), and a goofy attitude that can be dangerous on the ground. But I can get on and walk him with no issue...he's very well behaved under saddle. As long as the vet says ok, I'd do it that way. Some injuries they don't want you on them, but sounds like that isn't the case here.
So, long as your horse behaves under saddle, and you are not risking life and limb,yours, go to it. I have one that is much better under saddle, but still not a saint. And we've walked hours and miles by now.
Along with what everyone else has said about behavior, your horse may emotionally feel better with a job. I know my mare does much much better if I get on to walk her instead of hand walking. She's also better behaved, so I think my balanced weight on her back is better for her than her unbalanced weight thrashing around
Yes, tackwalking. And it usually means the horse will be allowed to walk for a longer period of time, in a more forward walk. It is probably much better for the horse and the injury. And at least half the time, the horse thinks they have been 'worked,' and that seems to help them mentally also. (They get the same routine of groom, tack, hand out in arena with buddies, etc.)
People don't seem to realize the confining a horse to a stall is about as healthy as confining a human to a bed. If you've ever been seriously injured and bed ridden, then you know how horrible it feels, and how it can 'melt' your body. (In this day and age, those sick PTs will try to get you out of bed and doing jumping jacks when it still feels to you like your body will break in half if you stand up!)
As a matter of fact, unless the horse has broken a bone, a lot of the experienced folks in my area will tackwalk a horse no matter what the injury. Usually folks reach the conclusion that talk walking is better after they, or their staff, have been injured repeatedly (or scared well enough) by the fireworks that come hand in hand with dealing with a horses that have been confined to a stall for several months.
My vet said the same thing coming back off a suspensory tear- sitting on him to do his walks was just fine. My waistline regretted the loss of the daily 2-mile hand walks, but Tip likes to have a job, so it seemed like he felt better about it.
My sister's big idiot was instructed to hand-walk, tack-walk, or be ponied at the walk, whichever would keep him from killing himself. Especially if they're confined to a stall, the "not harming self or others" really is the bottom line!
"I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
- Harry Dresden
Yup, tack walking is fine- provided, of course, you can stay on! I was rehabbing a horse for someone, had been hand walking for weeks, finally trainer and vet decided I should try tack walking him. One of those "do NOT let him get loose no matter what" cases. Didn't even make it 2 laps around the arena before I was rocket launched and upside down in the dirt. Horse was fine, after we caught him, I was fine, annnnd we went back to hand walking.
My vet said this was okay too for my mare both times she had a torn tendon. My mare is big but not huge (16.1 hands, ~1200lbs) and I am not tiny (~165lbs), and she said it was okay.
But ... I didn't do it. Not because I don't trust my vet, but because when I get on my mare, she's aaaaaaalll about getting to work. I knew she wouldn't walk but would jig and bounce and dance. Esp since she was on stall rest. She does stop this after a few minutes and after some trot work, but that wouldn't work for what she needed.
So, she got a chain over her nose (to remind her of her manners) and we walked the trails around the farm.
If you vet gives you the go-ahead, and you think your horse will agree to just walk, then by all means do it. It does feel funny since the horse is on 'rest', but they do heal much better when those nasty adhesions are not allowed to form on the tendon.
My mare healed up fine both times, no further soundness issues and no noticeable 'bump' on the tendon either.