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Competing again after injury- how do you prepare

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  • Competing again after injury- how do you prepare

    We have been given the ok to compete our horse that suffered a partial tear of his RF suspensory last summer. I'm a nervous wreck about competing and injuring himself again. I'm pretty sure I have a good plan in place for him but I'm curious to know for those of you that have been where I am now, what did or do you do to prepare before and after a competition. In addition, I've got him on SmartFlex Repair for a joint/ligament supplement. Anything else I should be doing? He's a low level Eventer.
    "If you've got a horse, you've got a problem"

  • #2
    I can't help, but thank you for asking this question! My guy is just slooowwwllllyy starting back into work, so I'll be hopefully wanting to know the answer next spring!


    • #3
      Follow the legging up protocol the vet gives, make sure the horse is fit and prepare like we would with any other horse. As long as the horse has the vet's approval to return to full work/competition, there isn't much secret to it. With soft tissues, I become VERY diligent with cold hosing or icing after big jump schools, gallops, and events, I avoid bad footing even more than I already do, and check them with the paranoia of someone who's been hitting a bong a little too often, but otherwise, nothing too special.


      • #4
        Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
        Follow the legging up protocol the vet gives, make sure the horse is fit and prepare like we would with any other horse. As long as the horse has the vet's approval to return to full work/competition, there isn't much secret to it. With soft tissues, I become VERY diligent with cold hosing or icing after big jump schools, gallops, and events, I avoid bad footing even more than I already do, and check them with the paranoia of someone who's been hitting a bong a little too often, but otherwise, nothing too special.
        THIS. Total vigilance about footing, making sure they are properly (appropriately) conditioned for the work, and icing them down after hard works or jump schools. That's pretty much all you can do; once it has healed, it *should* stay healed, UNLESS you aren't vigilant about the abovementioned stuff.

        That said, you have no control over what they do to themselves in the field (or when they are not under your direct supervision), so just pray to whatever god works for you, keep your fingers crossed, try not to stress and obsess about it, and do whatever you can to BE JUDICIOUS about the work and schooling you do.

        Good luck!
        "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

        "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")


        • #5
          Star's not an eventer, but did have a high suspensory strain coupled with collateral ligament strains. We were doing the 3' hunters and eq before the injury. We are kind of back to that point.

          I am very careful about conditioning (by the time I finished my vet's rehab protocol my hunter/eq horse looked fitter than the jumpers in the barn and I've tried to keep him that way), footing in the show ring, the warm-up area, and at home (there are places I will not show including, unfortunately, the facility to which I can walk), shoeing (have an excellent shoer, have horse shod every 5 weeks, try to avoid showing at the 5 weeks), limit the number of classes I do (not an issue with eventing, I realize, since it is what it is) and the amount of jumping at home, ice and/or rub down after I jump at home and at shows, don't lunge (at home or at shows), and I err on the side of extreme caution if he doesn't feel quite right. It's somewhat standard protocol in many HJ barns to give the horse bute or banamine at the end of each show day. I have not done this yet since his injury as I wanted to feel how he felt. This weekend we are heading off to a two-day show with a day of schooling tacked onto the beginning and I am wavering back and forth on this. Two nights in a USEF-standard 9.5'x9.5' stall would make me want some Advil or something if I were his size...
          The Evil Chem Prof


          • #6
            What yb, Dr D, and Peggy said.
            Veteran of bilateral hind suspensory tears here.

            Horse must be fit, fit fit. Ground conditions must be good. Don't do what you don't need to (like lunge). Ice/cold hose. Turn out as much as possible. Great shoeing.

            Best of luck!!!
            The big man -- my lost prince

            The little brother, now my main man


            • #7
              I would also be very diligent about his feet- make sure his toes aren't to long and causing stress on the suspensory. Obviously I don't know what your farrier is like-and he could be really great, but the reason I have my horse is b/c he pulled his R.H. Suspensory due to shoddy farrier care. His old owner gave him to me b/c she couldn't get him sound and as soon as his feet were balanced and he didn't have ski toes he's been doing great, and it's been over a year now.

              Now I do inspect his right hind very carefully and if he feels funny on it I immediately stop, but so far I haven't had to do that- if anything his left side feels more wonky!!! hahaha

              and of course what everyone else has said- but I do think that if you keep his feet right, then the rehab you do with him should hold
              proud owner of a very pretty but completely useless horse (and one useful horse!)

              Horse Thoughts


              • Original Poster

                Thanks guys, I know deep footing is a problem, our weather has been dry here and I assume hard ground is an issue as well? Thinking about entering a show in Aug, but if the ground remains the same it's a rock out there.....Anyway, we've been able to keep him barefoot but if you think shoeing is an option in keeping him sound I can. I'm keeping a close eye on his angles and it's been ok.
                He's never needed lunging, just a good boy who knows his job! He will only be limited to Novice but I guess that's ok, he loves to work so at least he still gets to do it so no complaints here!
                "If you've got a horse, you've got a problem"


                • #9
                  Very generally speaking, hard ground is less of an issue for soft tissue injuries than soft ground -- it can promote concussion injuries and arthritis, but it's not dangerous like mud can be.

                  I certainly wouldn't take our advice on whether or not to shoe your horse -- that's for your vet! We all are in violent agreement that correct hoof care/careful attention to angles etc. is critical, but the exact prescription, as it were, is up to your vet and farrier!
                  The big man -- my lost prince

                  The little brother, now my main man


                  • #10
                    My guy is the king of injuries - luckily being a dressage horse, the work is not as taxing as jumping. Ditto what others say - fitness, shoeing (my vet and farrier work together on this one) good footing.

                    I will add: lots of long walk warm up and cool down. And minimize trailering distances if possible. I find that trailering long hauls (5+ hours) is what really takes a toll on his legs.


                    • #11
                      OK see here's where I am gonna go against the grain...

                      Your vet and you have no doubt talked about a protocol for conditioning and care.

                      I agree with watch out for footing that is an extreme, too hard or soft.

                      But at somepoint when you're doing all the vet reccomended stuff, you have to put the whole "Omg he injured that leg" stuff out of your mind every second and ride the horse you have each day.

                      You cannot protect him from everything. He is left alone from humans during his time in a stall and in a field. And I guarantee that during this time he's not staring at his leg thinking "Ohhhh yep. I hurt that. I better not...(fill in the blank of what a horse could do)"

                      The basics to consider are this:

                      1.) Have you rehabbed the injury as best as you can and been cleared to return to the activity you want to do, by your vet?

                      2.) Is he fit enough to compete? Both wind and the other 3 legs need to be at full fitness or better.

                      3.) Are you still fit to ride and compete? Did you keep yourself at your peak fitness while he was off?

                      4.) Are there combined tests or dressage shows in your area that you could start back gradually?

                      5.) Are you aware of things to avoid that could worsen the condition of a leg with his past injury? What are they and how do you avoid them? (This is where you need to go back to "school" and educate yourself)

                      And when you get through all this and get back to your first xc with him, remember to smile as you two get to play this game again. It's a gift....not a right.

                      "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries


                      • Original Poster

                        -Yes, Vet has cleared him to compete after a full rehab/recovery
                        -He is fit, wind could be a bit better but getting there.
                        -Yes, rider is fit to ride still, has 2 other horses that are ridden regularly and does some Yoga
                        - Has done a flat show, but no combined tests. Dressage show coming up, Just light jumping in arena, planned a XC schooling
                        - Spoken to the Vet about going forward, feet, footing, Treatment before and after workouts/competitions, what to avoid, what's ok, what's not.

                        I appreciate everyone's experiences and input!
                        "If you've got a horse, you've got a problem"