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Rotator Cuff Repair...How to Keep Horse Legged Up?

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  • Rotator Cuff Repair...How to Keep Horse Legged Up?

    I am week 6 post rotator cuff repair and am still quite limited in what I can do with the surgical arm. No riding for 8-12 weeks post-op (hoping for the 8 if I can sweet talk my surgeon at my next follow-up!) so it's all ground work at this point.

    My horse had a good 2-3 weeks basically on vacation. While I believe he enjoyed just being turned out and taking sun baths, I am concerned that he will lose muscle tone. He is 22 and in great shape and I want to keep him that way! I have started putting him on the lunge line - not a pretty sight trying to lunge with one arm - but am wondering if anyone has anything else to suggest?

    My trainer was out of town for the summer so she was not available to work with him/us until the past week or so. She only worked him on the ground for our first session in order not to over-tax him (she is a much more serious rider than I and works harder during every ride than I do). I want to start him back to work so he doesn't lose ground and so that when I'm ready to get back on, he's ready for me, and to also make it easier for both him & my trainer when she works him under saddle.

    I'm looking for ideas, thoughts or suggestions on what I can do with him to help keep him/get him back in shape that I can do basically one-handed. We don't need to be super-fit; I'm a recreational rider currently at Training Level with stray thoughts of First running through my brain. I know that I can't be the only person who's been in this situation, so share away! What did you do? If it's hand-walking and lunge work only, so be it, but how did you structure your sessions to keep your horse from getting bored? And how did you keep yourself from not self-destructing from frustration?!

    Thanks!!!
    Old age is no place for sissies.
    Bette Davis

  • #2
    Boy can I sympathize! I had rotator cuff surgery on the right and then later on the left, and both times it was a long slow and PAINFUL recovery period. You need to be very careful not to damage yourself.

    For your horse's fitness, have you got a friend who could help out? I had a teenager who rode fairly well, and she came and helped me. It is frustrating to be incapable, isn't it? And I agree that an older horse ought to be kept fit.

    Maybe lunge over ground poles?

    Comment


    • #3
      Free lunging with one arm is much easier...free-lunging and free jumping. I know that you don't get to use the rein to help with carriage, so you want to look at activities that promote self carriage.

      -circle with cavaletti at four points (on a short trot, long trot, canter, etc.)
      -jump chute with strided combination

      To keep everyone interested, you might want to try some "games", stuff that improves the way you communicate with your horse. Not tarps and balls and ridiculousness, but stuff like driving the horse forward and backward with just non-verbal cues (without touching the horse) getting pace increases with just your body, etc.

      This is the kind of stuff I do with my baby. I went and researched Western Showmanship and liked how they ask for starts and stops with tiny subtle body cues. My filly watches for my cues now, she loves to "get it right" and get her nose pet when I want her to stop or pick up the pace.

      None of it will HURT your Dressage, but also none of it will totally replace riding. You can't get a horse riding fit from the ground, but you also won't lose that much. You're going to need "legging up" yourself after recovery, so you needn't panic too much about the horse, I think. He'll bounce back fitness wise

      Good luck.
      Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior

      Comment


      • #4
        What about offering a couple of rides and/or free lessons to somebody who would be willing to come out a couple of times?

        Your horse stays fitter, you practice developing your eye from the ground, you get a few karma points, and you might even make a new horsey friend.
        The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
        Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
        Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
        The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

        Comment


        • #5
          Take your time. I'm 8 wks post surgery for a full tear and did something to my biceps tendon the other day just moving a couple flakes of hay :-(

          I've also fallen down leading left handed and horse stepped on my heal (roll eyes) and tweaked my back trying to save myself with my left not right (bad) arm!

          I'm lucky that someone boards at my barn and I'm trading some board for a couple of rides a week.

          Do you have somewhere you can free lunge?

          Good suggestion from above poster on the basic ground work. That is if your not a clutz (sp) like me LOL!
          http://www.cottagefarminc.com

          http://www.thoroughbredsusa.com

          Comment


          • #6
            No suggestions ~ Jingles for you ~ Search this = a thread recently ~

            No suggestions ~ Jingles for you ~

            I start my
            "vacation" = rotator cuff surgery early November ~
            Have someone long-lining my green mare now to keep the mare progressing & exercised all winter tough to watch but has to be done.
            I am currently still riding "finished" horses and driving hackneys BUT someone has to bridle and saddle horses as I can not reach that high up ~ ponies are at my good level still... I can actually do almost everything now except ride my unicyle as one needs two arms with full ROM for that balancing act but once "cut wll be doing NOTHING with my dominat arm
            Not looking forward to my "knife vacation" have prepared with new songs on my shuffle and some light reading ~ thanks to other cothers who advise this prep.
            What can you do after you get out of the sling thing ? Is your arm just a limp noodle ???
            Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks for all the good wishes!

              Rubygirl - I will try the cavaletti and add in some of the other ground work.

              I have been looking for someone to ride him while I am grounded but it just hasn't worked out. My barn buddies are trying to find time for their own horses and the friend I thought I had lined up just found out she was pregnant about the same time I had surgery.

              Zu Zu - I started passive physical therapy on day one post-op. You will go stir crazy being in a sling but you just have to tough it out. Be sure you have some button-up shirts, yoga-type pants, and button-front jammies 'cause dressing is challenging, especially right after surgery. Your arm will feel really funny the first several days you are out of the sling, then it won't be bad. Your arm will start to feel OK, but you won't be able to use it to do anything fun! The pain level was less than what I was expecting, but I also followed all of the rules for the first couple of weeks, took the pain meds and did the ice packs and I think that helped.

              I also just picked up a book on stretching exercises for horses so I am going to see if I can do any of those one-handed as well as the ground work. Six weeks down.......and counting!

              Thanks!
              Old age is no place for sissies.
              Bette Davis

              Comment


              • #8
                Thank You FifteenOne ~

                Thank you for details ~ I do believe I will be CRAZY in that sling !!! even for one day much less five weeks !! Have prepared with clothes and ice packs ~ just need to be heavily sedated probably for five weeks
                Good Luck with your book and ground exercises ~

                One last question ~ When out of the sling is one to be concerned about ripping it again like if bumped when leading a horse ? The Dr. has scared me with "DO NOT GET BUMPED" nudged by a horse ????
                Last edited by Zu Zu; Oct. 15, 2010, 04:01 PM. Reason: spelling
                Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

                Comment


                • #9
                  My doctor didn't want me so much as touching a horse for at least 8 weeks. I interpreted that to mean not touching a horse with my right arm (right rotator cuff). I lead with my left hand, standing on the off side, which confused my mare at first. I learned I could longe with both the line and whip in my left hand (right arm in sling and end of line in right hand). I longed in an indoor with the door closed. It was winter, and I only wore one glove, on my left hand to remind myself that was the okay hand. If my right hand got cold, it went in my pocket.

                  Even after I stopped wearing the sling at home, I always wore it when I was away from home to keep people from touching me on that side and as a reminder to myself.

                  When you start riding again, be aware that both you and your horse may be wobbly from lack of condition. The first time I rode, my mare tripped and went down, the only time a horse has gone down with me in 40 years of riding, including hunting and eventing in the "early days." When she tripped, I didn't have the response and condition to support her. All the way down, I kept thinking "left shoulder, left shoulder" and I seemed to have enough time in there to also think that if I landed on the right side my doctor would kill me. But, I landed to the left in soft footing and we were both fine.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    OH MY !

                    Originally posted by Margaret Freeman View Post
                    My doctor didn't want me so much as touching a horse for at least 8 weeks. I interpreted that to mean not touching a horse with my right arm (right rotator cuff). I lead with my left hand, standing on the off side, which confused my mare at first. I learned I could longe with both the line and whip in my left hand (right arm in sling and end of line in right hand). I longed in an indoor with the door closed. It was winter, and I only wore one glove, on my left hand to remind myself that was the okay hand. If my right hand got cold, it went in my pocket.

                    Even after I stopped wearing the sling at home, I always wore it when I was away from home to keep people from touching me on that side and as a reminder to myself.

                    When you start riding again, be aware that both you and your horse may be wobbly from lack of condition. The first time I rode, my mare tripped and went down, the only time a horse has gone down with me in 40 years of riding, including hunting and eventing in the "early days." When she tripped, I didn't have the response and condition to support her. All the way down, I kept thinking "left shoulder, left shoulder" and I seemed to have enough time in there to also think that if I landed on the right side my doctor would kill me. But, I landed to the left in soft footing and we were both fine.
                    Thanks for the "heads up" ~
                    Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      I approached the "no riding" rule the same way Margaret did. No actual riding and all other stuff just done with my good arm. I've also been able to lunge with one hand. It took a few tries and we started quite slowly (think halter & lunge line only, just to get him moving around). Once the sling came off I thought I could at least hold the whip in that hand but found that to be a bad idea. The whip was ok as far as the weight of what I was allowed to carry goes, but the tendency to over-extend my allowed range of motion was a problem. I'm also back to wearing the sling at the barn just to prevent myself from overusing it.

                      ZuZu - start mentally preparing yourself now for the possibility of not riding for more than 8 weeks. I just had my 6 week follow up appointment and was told I was not to ride (or do anything that could result in "jerking"-like holding the lunge line in my bad arm) for the full 14 week post-op/physical therapy period. It seems the activity restrictions depend on the severity of the injury they repaired. I was told it takes a good 12 weeks for healing to take place and the repairs are somewhat fragile during that process. It's really just as well that I found this out after the surgery (silly me never thought to ask before!) since I might have hesitated to get it done if I had known beforehand.
                      Old age is no place for sissies.
                      Bette Davis

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by FifteenOne View Post
                        I approached the "no riding" rule the same way Margaret did. No actual riding and all other stuff just done with my good arm. I've also been able to lunge with one hand. It took a few tries and we started quite slowly (think halter & lunge line only, just to get him moving around). Once the sling came off I thought I could at least hold the whip in that hand but found that to be a bad idea. The whip was ok as far as the weight of what I was allowed to carry goes, but the tendency to over-extend my allowed range of motion was a problem. I'm also back to wearing the sling at the barn just to prevent myself from overusing it.

                        ZuZu - start mentally preparing yourself now for the possibility of not riding for more than 8 weeks. I just had my 6 week follow up appointment and was told I was not to ride (or do anything that could result in "jerking"-like holding the lunge line in my bad arm) for the full 14 week post-op/physical therapy period. It seems the activity restrictions depend on the severity of the injury they repaired. I was told it takes a good 12 weeks for healing to take place and the repairs are somewhat fragile during that process. It's really just as well that I found this out after the surgery (silly me never thought to ask before!) since I might have hesitated to get it done if I had known beforehand.
                        I have asked lots of questions and know it will be 12 weeks probably ( if not 16) before I can get "involved" lunging , riding or even just being bumped... Have stock piled books, downloaded many songs on my shuffle and purchased some sweatpants and comfortable baggy clothes... not looking forward to it BUT I am determined to be healed by next April = five months ...never wish to go through it a second time ~ thank you for all the advice and details ...

                        Did you wear your shirt over your arm or do you dress under that lovely HUGE BLACK BAG ???? OH !! and can I walk ??? like miles to keep my recently lost 85.8 pounds off ???
                        Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Shirt first, then sling on the outside. This is the time when the button up shirt/top is critical! The only time I was out of the sling for the first four weeks was for showering, dressing and therapy. No one said anything to me about not walking but check with the MD to see if they want you to wait a week or two. I didn't feel like it for the first couple of weeks, then started back. It didn't bother my arm very much and it felt good to be out & about.
                          Old age is no place for sissies.
                          Bette Davis

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thank You FifteenOne ~

                            Originally posted by FifteenOne View Post
                            Shirt first, then sling on the outside. This is the time when the button up shirt/top is critical! The only time I was out of the sling for the first four weeks was for showering, dressing and therapy. No one said anything to me about not walking but check with the MD to see if they want you to wait a week or two. I didn't feel like it for the first couple of weeks, then started back. It didn't bother my arm very much and it felt good to be out & about.
                            Thank you ~ sounds dreadful to be quite honest ~ was hoping to walk and ride my exercise bike within days ... sounds like I will feel badly for first two weeks like when I had THR did not handle the (anethestic sp? )well ~
                            Last edited by Zu Zu; Oct. 17, 2010, 02:52 PM. Reason: spelling
                            Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              FifteenOne ~~~ Are you using your arm hand at all ??/ six weeks out ???
                              Writing checks ??/ Typing on computer or using non-dominant left arm/hand still ????
                              Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                You should be able to walk and use the exercise bike as soon as you feel up to it. It depends on how much pain meds you are taking and if they make you feel woozy. I have had both shoulders done-- open surgery for a full tear on the right, arthroscopic for partials and bone spurs on the left. Also clavicular resection on both side which you are probably getting too as a bonus. The open surgery took far longer to recover from, the arthroscopic was a breeze after the first one. I never asked my dr. about riding (I am a firm believer in "if you don't ask they can't say no"-- rode most of the way through a twin pregnancy). I discovered early on a method for cleaning stalls with the sling on, also that my dear reliable old mare was happy to let me neck rein her, even though I needed help tacking up. So I rode with the sling on, and let me tell you it was a fantastic exercise in balance and lightness, it was actually really good for my riding.

                                Would I have gotten on a young or unknown horse? Absolutely not. I rode the original baymare only, and believe absolutely that I had a far greater chance of injuring myself from tripping or slipping or crossing a busy street than by getting on her. So I did exercise SOME judgment. Additionally, I think leading or longing would be far more likely to lead to injury than simply sitting on a reliable quiet horse and riding one-handed.

                                The bad news: it takes a long, long time to be 100%. The good news: it is well worth it in the long run! I do stalls, lift weights, run a barn, etc etc and at 56 am no spring chicken. But the shoulders are no problem.

                                Good luck with your recovery!
                                www.baymarefarm.net

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Thank you baymare ~

                                  Originally posted by baymare View Post
                                  You should be able to walk and use the exercise bike as soon as you feel up to it. It depends on how much pain meds you are taking and if they make you feel woozy. I have had both shoulders done-- open surgery for a full tear on the right, arthroscopic for partials and bone spurs on the left. Also clavicular resection on both side which you are probably getting too as a bonus. The open surgery took far longer to recover from, the arthroscopic was a breeze after the first one. I never asked my dr. about riding (I am a firm believer in "if you don't ask they can't say no"-- rode most of the way through a twin pregnancy). I discovered early on a method for cleaning stalls with the sling on, also that my dear reliable old mare was happy to let me neck rein her, even though I needed help tacking up. So I rode with the sling on, and let me tell you it was a fantastic exercise in balance and lightness, it was actually really good for my riding.

                                  Would I have gotten on a young or unknown horse? Absolutely not. I rode the original baymare only, and believe absolutely that I had a far greater chance of injuring myself from tripping or slipping or crossing a busy street than by getting on her. So I did exercise SOME judgment. Additionally, I think leading or longing would be far more likely to lead to injury than simply sitting on a reliable quiet horse and riding one-handed.

                                  The bad news: it takes a long, long time to be 100%. The good news: it is well worth it in the long run! I do stalls, lift weights, run a barn, etc etc and at 56 am no spring chicken. But the shoulders are no problem.

                                  Good luck with your recovery!
                                  Thank you for the help baymare ~ truly appreciate the part about "it's worth it" as I have high strung horses and ponies and fully realize it will be a prolonged wait for me ~ glad to read I can walk and ride my exercise bike when I feel up to it ~ that alone will make a world of difference in my dispostion ~ again thank you for posting ~
                                  Last edited by Zu Zu; Oct. 18, 2010, 11:45 PM. Reason: spelling
                                  Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    "My doctor didn't want me so much as touching a horse for at least 8 weeks. I interpreted that to mean not touching a horse with my right arm (right rotator cuff). I lead with my left hand, standing on the off side,"

                                    Funny how we make up our own definitions, isn't it?!!
                                    Beware the hobby that eats.
                                    Benjamin Franklin

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Hi Zu Zu! I was able to write a little bit - sign my name somewhat legibly - within a week or so. I didn't do a lot of writing if I could avoid it since I was pretty sore and I did feel it when I wrote. The computer was very slow also for the first few weeks. I had limited mobility to start with and then the stupid sling kept getting in the way! I ended up doing a lot of pecking and making a lot of typos....sooooo frustrating. My sling came off at four weeks and I went back to work at that time. I spend a fair amount of time on the computer at work and work 11 hour days. The first week or so was tough; everything went slowly and I would get muscle spasms in my arm when I had to write notes. It's still sore & achy on work days (I'm at 7 weeks out now) but I'm pretty much back up to speed and fully functional.

                                      I am doing my best to follow the rules and not ride but Baymare's approach is tempting me! The only thing really stopping me from riding right now is the fact that I'm not sure how hard it would be to dismount! OK, that and knowing I could never face my surgeon or my physical therapist if I did do something stupid & fall off! (I am the absolute queen of poor balance!) So far I've been Ok with the lunging as long as I pack the sling and wear it at the barn.

                                      Now if I could only figure out how to body clip him without using my right arm!
                                      Old age is no place for sissies.
                                      Bette Davis

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Well I suppose I could weigh in here... I'm 2 years post-op for a rotator cuff tendon repair. I don't listen to my doctor all the time and since I have a dead broke gelding, I did ride before the allowed time. Although I definitely would NOT recommend that! Lol. My friend had to do all the saddling and whatnot.

                                        Anyway, while you will feel OK by about 12 weeks out, you still won't have full range of motion and the pulling of a lunge-line, etc will still hurt pretty bad, not to mention lack of strength. I would say I was nearing normal at about 6 months post-op and after a year I definitely had no more effects from the surgery. Yes, you will tweak your biceps tendon frequently and think you've totally regressed, but it's just inflammation causing that tendon to pop out of it's groove. Some ice and anti-inflammatories fix it right up, but it's VERY easy to pop it out and that happened to me probably for up to a year after the surgery. It rarely, if ever happens anymore. And for a baseline, I was only 25 when I had the surgery, so quite young.

                                        I know this is all bad news to anyone going in for the surgery, but I can tell you, it's well worth it. Just take it easy and let it heal in time.

                                        Comment

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