So the wonderful horse I've been leasing is in the process of recovering from an inflamed coffin joint. We went through the stages of 1. Bruised sole, 2. Abscess, 3. Surely it's an abscess?, to 4. Coffin joint. When the vet inserted the needle into the joint to block it for diagnostics, fluid came out. It has now been two weeks since the injection of steroid, HA and antibiotic. He is now, according to vet, 99% and was cleared to go back into regular turn out yesterday. He was on limited tiny turn out....stall rest is not an option for this horse mentally. After another week we will reassess to see how he looks. Straight line traveling it is almost impossible to see anything, making turns, like at the end of the barn aisle, he still looks a tiny bit off, but not on every turn anymore.
From what I have read, it seems that it is possible that there could be an underlying DDFT or collateral ligament problem that caused the coffin joint to be inflamed. MRI is not financially an option, and if he does not come back he will be retired... he has a home for life. Vet and trainer are optimistic that it was 'only' the joint and he can come back, but of course nothing is certain with horses!
What I'm hoping for from the community is advice and stories from those who have had similar issues. Obviously I'll be telling the vet I want to be conservative if/when I do get back on him, and I'll follow whatever instructions he gives. But I know there are always different options, and I'd like to be able to discuss the process with the vet. Should I expect not to jump him again? Will a long period of walking make a difference as it would with a soft tissue injury? And any other advice or knowledge you may have, or even encouragement.
This horse has taught me a lot, so I want to do right by him.
I would want to know why the joint was inflamed. My guy had a hairline fracture to his coffin bone (I also thought it had to be a bruise or abcess), the coffin joint was inflamed and we did inject but I knew what we were dealing with because we x-rayed first. I would talk to your vet about what he/she think could cause the inflamed joint and what you should do to help diagnose (x-rays, ultrasound,, etc.). I wouldn't want to work him until you know for sure. Good luck and I hope it isn't serious. My guy has been fine, no issues after we went through the healing process.
Thanks, I did forget to mention that we did xray the foot from several angles. So we know that it is not a fracture. The vet thinks that it stemmed from a "concussive event" of some sort, but with this horse it is hard to say exactly what that event might have been. He's a pretty big player outside.
My mare fractured her coffin bone and injured both her collateral ligaments walking across a rutted winter field. She had an MRI for diagnostic purposes and it looked bad. So, after 9 months of stall rest and handwalking, then an additional 6 months off to have a foal, she started back in work almost 2 years ago and is showing 3rd level, schooling 4th and jumping a little ( on very good footing...)
We have a horse who had the EXACT same progression over the winter! The girl just gave him the necessary time off, and when she put him back to work it has just been slow and easy. Very light hacking in the sand arena for quite a while before slowly building to heavier flatwork (both to test the joint as well as build his fitness a little). After about a month of flatting she started jumping a little, and now he's back to full work. They probably jump him a little less than they used to, and any time he looks off they don't push it. He has had the joint injected twice so far. now he's back to 100%, even a small local show Saturday followed by a XC schooling on Sunday didn't bother him a bit. If he starts to look ouchy again they'll just check the joint again. The pair just moved up to Training last fall and hopefully after doing Novice next month they'll be ready for Training the rest of the Summer! Best of luck to you and I hope your horse makes a great recovery!
Thanks Eilsel, at least I know it is possible! Their situation is exactly like ours, too, moved up to training last fall as well. I will definitely be taking it slow, I will have to recoup funds a bit anyway so don't have any intentions of trying to show until the summer is underway. And then I suppose I'll be looking for places without too hard ground, so it may be limited if we have drought again!
Anyone have any insight into how things like lateral work affect the coffin joint? His brain is pretty active so easy hacking will get boring to him (= too exciting for me) and I'd like to keep him thinking. I'd rather be doing leg yields and shoulder in than leaping sideways across the arena. Or other ideas for low key but mind engaging work? poles?
My guy was diagnosed with this in summer of 2008, when we were living in KY and there was a horrible drought. My coach kept pushing for me to compete for qualifiers for a 1* and as a dumb 17 year old, I complied. He started stopping, which is not like him, as vet said coffin joints were inflamed. Injected, gave him 6 weeks off, and put him slowly back into work. He has since competed Intermediate and 2* and had a suspensory injury, but hasn't really been the same. Sound and comfortable, but not as careful in show jumping. He used to over jump by 2'. Not anymore.
Another good "mental exercise" is ground work. At the end of our last dressage lesson DQ had us do some in-hand work to improve our halts. Makes them think while not putting any stress on their bodies!
My horse strained his collateral ligaments to some extent in both front feet about five (!) years ago. Diagnosis was via MRI. Did shockwave and IRAP, brought slowly back to work, and got a couple of decent years (back to jumping, etc.) with periodic coffin joint maintenance. After 3+ years of this it got bad and something seemed more NQR than in the past. He turned out to have significant neck arthritis that was a possible cause to the original injury. Treated that and I now have a really nice flat horse.
The vet that did the MRIs told me that some of the collateral ligament injuries get better with just layup and some don't. He also said that waiting to do the more aggressive treatment as opposed to doing it sooner does not significantly change the prognosis.
Thanks. Yesterday he was a little bit worse.... first day in regular turn out without drugs to calm him.... and apparently he fell down somehow? Still not anywhere near as bad as it was initially, but he was worse. Sigh.
^^Not to alarm you or anything but one of the symptoms of the neck problem was that my horse stumbled under saddle way more than he should have. I realize yours may have tripped as a result of sheer joy at being free.
Don't lose hope. I have a horse with what might be a similar issue. 4 years ago at age 9, horse became acutely lame on the right front for no apparent reason while I was lunging (on a large 20+ m circle). Took horse to one of the best lameness specialists in the country, unfortunately did not have the funds for an MRI but they found, like with your horse, that the coffin joint was inflamed - there was enough fluid that it was able to be palpated when coronary area was clipped, and lots of fluid came out when needle was inserted. The vet suspected a collateral ligament injury might be the cause as X-rays were clean. The LF also carried some fluid, but not as much. Injected coffin joint with steroid and HA, did stall rest w/handwalking for maybe 6 weeks (horse is very good for this, and we had 3 ft of snow on the ground so not great for a soft tissue injury!), then gradually started turnout and walking under saddle. I took my time and it was 5-6 months before the horse was back to jumping.
Very occasionally, I would notice a bad step here or there, maybe footing related, but horse was generally quite sound. The horse stayed sound for 2 years, hunting first field and eventing at novice, though I found she wouldn't go on hard ground (generally felt awful XC and would stop). I did yearly injections. 3 years after the initial injury I moved her up to training and even being extremely cognizant of footing, she didn't hold up for that - this is a 15 hh draft/pony type that requires a lot of conditioning for training level and isn't light across the ground. Stayed sound on that foot but started overloading the other leg and started stopping. She did fine doing 3'6'' jumpers in the ring and foxhunting the rest of the year.
Midway through the hunting season this year, she wasn't 100% on the foot so I had it injected again and gave her a few weeks off. In the winter, she is not sound trotting across the frozen ground even in turnout. She came back fine, and is now happily doing hunter paces and jumping 3'6'' in the ring and very, very sound.
I am very picky about footing for her (obviously I can't be out hunting, but I don't hunt when ground is frozen and I don't ride in rings with hard/uneven/otherwise poor footing). Come summer when everything gets super hard and dry, she will only walk outside the ring.
I hope this was helpful to you! Hopefully with maintenance and careful management, and an understanding of what he can and cannot do comfortably, your guy will be able to keep going a while longer.