time and patience paying off... just have to share :)
My mare has been out for a year due to a suspensory injury which turned into a stifle issue 7 months later. After a lot of changes, like a new coach, thousands of dollars, consultations with several vets, various treatments, rest, and most importantly lots of patience and lots of love... I'm getting my horse back. I had a great lessons today, had a few moments where I felt my old dressage horse floating underneath me. It was awesome. I don't even care anymore if we show and compete and move up the levels, I'm just so happy she's sound and we've got a great coach to learn a lot from.
Cherish every ride because you never know what could happen! I am just going to appreciate every ride- whether it's a slow trail ride or a big floaty trot and lovely uphill canter
I am facing a possible suspensory issue in my guy (boarded surgeon is doing ultrasound on Monday), and reading your post really helped improve my perspective. I need to stop wallowing in sadness and focus my energy on spending time with my boy and working to make him better. Hanging out with him, even if I'm not riding, still makes me very happy. Hopefully in a year I can post a similar report to yours.
Thank you for sharing.
Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique
Former owner of the best Amish-carthorse-turned-eventer ever
Good luck, cleozowner. One thing I really learned was go with your gut. When my mare went lame again during rehab I had 2 vets tell me it was chronic suspensory desmitis and I should take her in for surgery. All I could think about were possible long term side effects of that. I had another vet look at her, he was highly recommended from some other riders at my barn. He injected her stifle and told me to free lunge her (I ended up lightly riding because she was too hard on herself when loose) because she had to move.
Now I have a new coach who has a degree in physiology and we're teaching my horse to move properly again and use that leg correctly.
I'm so glad I went with my gut and take her in for surgery. I wish you all the best, it is a long hard road. I think my mare and I really bonded during her stall rest and rehab. Be patient, it will be worth it in the end.
I'm working with a classical dressage instructor who used to practice veterinary medicine and specializes in equine and human physiology. One thing she noticed on my horse was that she didn't sink into that fetlock as much as the other on the injured hind leg. So before I ride I put the top of her toe on a block of wood (about an inch high I think) so her heel sinks and that leg stretches. We do a lot of ground work. On a small circle with the bunged up leg to the inside I push at the girth with my fist as she is bringing that inside hind forward. I do the same under saddle (but obviously using my leg and not my fist). This encourages her to bring that hind leg more underneath and between her front legs instead of swinging it to the side like she wants to do. Also we do shoulder-in on the ground. When the injured leg is to the inside she wants to rush so we just do a few slow steps at a time and I try to get her to halt with the inside leg forward. We also do some backing up in-hand but it's not about just backing up however she wants to- each leg needs to be in sync so we use a whip to encourage certain legs to keep up better with the other. In general we've changed a lot about my riding too. If my horse wants to just plod around then I just (painfully) sit there and let her. She loosens up eventually in her own time, there's no point in starting a fight and pushing her too hard to go forward when she can't. As we progress the time it takes for her to loosen up is getting shorter and shorter.
I'd really recommend reading about equine physiology. My eyes have really been opened and it's amazing what you start to notice about movement once you begin learning about it. And also, I'm not saying that these techniques will work for every horse and rider, of course each injury is unique. These are just some of the things we've been doing so if there's something who knows about equine physiology in your area I'd really recommend seeing them!
Rehabbing a bad injury like that really does put the whole horse thing in perspective. I rehabbed a suspensory injury on my horse about four years ago, and it really does make you appreciate every ride once you get them going again.
Like you, I also realized that competitive riding was waaaaaaay down on the list as compared to just enjoying my horse and doing whatever will help keep him sound and feeling good for as long as possible.
I'm really happy to hear that you've had success rehabbing your mare.