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Bowed tendons and eventing?

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  • Bowed tendons and eventing?

    At the non-profit I volunteer for we just had a really nice prospect come in for rehab and adoption. He is really stunning and has a winning personality, is bold and looks like he might be a great mover. He even has some breeding that is desirable for sport. We are working on his feet at the moment, but he looks sound with boots on, vet says he is sound and should be fine on his healing bow. He is six and raced nearly 30 times. The only thing going against him is his size (he's about 15.2), but he's definitely a "little-big horse".

    Anyway, anyone have success in eventing with an old bow? How would you feel about a nice horse that seems sound but has one? Do we bother aiming him at a sport horse career, or focus on trail/pleasure?

    And just because he is so cute, here are some pictures

    And his pedigree

    On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog

  • #2
    Well I rehabbed my eventer from two front bows. BUT from the moment it happened he was iced and DMS sweated round the clock for a week. Then continued with the sweat and 6 months of stall rest with hand walking starting at about the 4th month for a little bit a day. Also did cortizone injections in his tendons along with laser therapy 2x a week starting at month 1. The injections were done once a month for 4 months. He came back to event sound at Prelim, do some mini prixs for jumpers, and PSG dressage. BUT honestly I don't think I would buy a horse with an old bow unless I knew the rehab that had been done with it.

    By the way, after all the rest and therapy you couldn't even tell on ultrasound that he bowed. And it was his deep digital and superficial tendons on both.


    • #3
      How bad was the original bow? I think that would matter a lot.

      I had a book all about bows a while back, and I remember the guy that wrote it said that there is nothing that is harder on tendons than flat racing, and that even if the horse can't race again, often it can do all kinds of other things, including jumping.


      • #4
        He's definitely gorgeous!
        Founder & President, Dapplebay, Inc.
        Creative Director, Equestrian Culture Magazine
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        • #5
          While I have seen (and owned) horses who came back to event at all levels despite a mild bow, from the photos, that cute pony has a not-inconsequential looking bow in front. Obviously, would want to look/feel in person, but it it's as the photos seem to make it appear, I'd want to see the ultrasounds for sure, and it would have to have a pretty good record of coming back after it was healed for me to take a look at him as an event prospect. Possibly fine as a kids' horse or at Novice and below, but I'd want him to have had super super rehab and very careful, slow buildup back to take the risk.

          Pity - he's got a precious face.


          • #6
            My previous horse came off the track at age 7 with a low bow. He spent several months on pasture before I ever saw him and the bow was cold and set. I only did a couple of low level HTs on him but he spent the next 8 years show jumping with no problem with the bow. I did have it examined in a PPE to make sure it was completely healed and not in a way to interfere with his fetlock.
            It was a noticeable enough bow that when my trainer told me to take a look at him I replied that he had an extra joint in his leg.
            The vet that did the PPE said that how it heals can be more important than how severe it was.
            Nina's Story
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            • Original Poster

              I should have said the bow is not old yet, it is recent, 3 months ago. He was stall rested and treated for 3 months, but they decided not to bring him back to racing. I am working on a plan for him. I think he would be an amazing athlete, and want to do the best for him.
              On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog


              • #8
                My old gelding had a front bow. He compeated at prelim and was doing novice and training while staying sound. It depends on how it healed, but I would not turn away a bow if it healed well.
                I am on my phone 90% of the time. Please ignore typos, misplaced lower case letters, and the random word butchered by autocowreck.


                • #9
                  My Buzz had a HUGE old set bow on the left front, and a much less noticeable one of the right front. Both were cold when I bought him, and both were u/s later. Even though the LF looked as if someone had glued a banana to his leg, none of his issues through his career were ever related to that bow.

                  Well, except for the fact that he had to be turned out in boots because it was so large he banged it with a back foot all the time, and it made boots hard to fit. But, seriously, his was comically large.

                  He was also 15.2, on a good day, if he was wearing shoes, and you tickled his tummy to make him stand taller.

                  He competed through Training level with Ralph Hill, because he had more jump than I could deal with and he and Ralph loved each other. Plans were to have moved him up to Prelim, but he dinged a suspensory, and we gave him a lot of time off to heal following that injury. (He was seriously the most accident prone horse I have EVER had)

                  But, as to your question -- when he was going Novice with Ralph, I had several people express interest in buying him, despite the very visible old bow.

                  But, that was only after he had proven he could stay sound to go to Novice, and having a pro riding him I'm sure made all the difference. The fact that he was willing to compete him made a lot of people think that the old injury was not a big deal. If it had been just me, I know the ability to sell him would have been much lower.

                  An old bow obviously wouldn't deter me, but I am not like most potential buyers. I'm a sucker for a cute face, and a "devil may care" attitude, apparently.

                  I have Higher Standards ...do you? Find us on FB!
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                  • #10
                    That bow, from what I can see is a high bow. Not good. He is very pretty, but unless we are talking max training, and realizing its going to take a lot of work to keep it from reinjury, and in all liklihood, will happen again, i would look some more. If you are able to continue care when he would need retired, you might be ok...i just wouldnt get into that bow.
                    May the sun shine on you daily, and your worries be gone with the wind.


                    • #11
                      Over he years I've heard fof several horses who evented on bows Jeff Mckessock (CAN) had a horse he ran at KY, also Radnor
                      breeder of Mercury!

                      remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans


                      • Original Poster

                        Originally posted by gold2012 View Post
                        That bow, from what I can see is a high bow. Not good.
                        FYI, it's a mid bow that is nowhere near his knee or his ankle, which from what I understand, is the best case scenario given proper rehab.

                        He's not for me, just a project and a very special boy. I am trying to figure what the best course of action is.
                        On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog


                        • #13
                          Definitely a mid bow, not high. My horse did his twice, mild both times and came back extremely well, although I only take him preliminary now, he's 18.
                          My mothers racehorse just came off the track with an almost identical bow as this grey horse. He got PRP therapy and shockwave. It's been 60 days since the PRP and it almost doesn't show up on the ultra sound. He's been given an excellent prognosis for a full recovery. He will have a year off from the injury date and then will go to work as an event horse. He is only 3 now anyway, so a year of nothing will be good for him. Starting at 90 days out from the PRP treatment the vet actually wants me to do a 'working' rehab, slow 5 minute trots, and working up from there over the next 6 months.
                          His was a 20 percent tear of the superficial tendon. Do you known the percent tear of your guy?
                          Also, Custom Made had a huge banana bow, and was rehabed and won gold at the Olympics.......


                          • #14
                            One of my favorite event horses had 2 giant banana bows and I never had trouble with them. He did 2 1* and went Int. with me. I also know a number of horses who bow steeplechasing and have run successfully again without re-injury of the site. You'd have to work pretty hard as an eventer to put more strain on a horse than a steeplechase race .
                            Shop online at


                            • #15
                              He is GORGEOUS! Are you in NorCal? I'd like to learn more about him!
                              Sit up and kick on! ~Phoebe Buckley


                              • #16
                                At your rehab place, do you keep these horses for years before you adopt them out, or do you get them going under saddle and try to find them new homes quickly? If it is the latter, are you actually going to have him long enough to worry about "aiming" him at anything?
                                He's lucky to be a flashy enough color and have a cute enough face that he'll get second looks. If someone decides they can live with the bow and with his basic conformation, then it's really up to the adopter where to aim him. Maybe he'll stay sound, maybe he won't. With bows, you just don't know until you try, but that seems like it will be the job of his adopter -- hopefully not something he'll hang around the adoption place long enough for you to worry about.
                                Last edited by NeverTime; May. 17, 2012, 07:40 PM.
                                I evented just for the Halibut.


                                • #17
                                  In my experience....I subscribe to God's theory....bows will break your heart. It's unfortunate but I have really found this saying to be true. There is however always an exception to the rule! And I second GotSpot's rehab thoughts, very important how it is done.
                                  Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                                  Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


                                  • #18
                                    I usually dont mind a properly rehabbed bow in a horse that I intend to keep, or keep long enough to prove it can do the job on it.

                                    But this guy.. Well, his front end is SO HEAVY. He is so cute! But when I look at his whole package, I think trail horse, to keep him sound.
                                    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                                    • #19
                                      I have rehabbed and retrained a lot of off-the-track Thoroughbreds - I've seen blown suspensories and bows, that have rehabbed and doing fine in jumping careers. I had one mare several years ago who had a bad low bow, actually had people tell me that I would never be able to fix the leg -- I gave her plenty of time off, standing wraps while in the stall, and she healed wonderfully -- was jumping 3'9" cross country comfortably when she was sold. She is now foxhunting first flight.
                                      I would say for lower level eventing, he would probably be fine -- as noted by someone earlier in the thread, probably fine through Novice. I think jumping bigger fences at speed would put him at higher risk of reinjury, but have also seen a lot of ugly injuries go on to be very good jumpers with successful careers. Biggest thing is that he has plenty of time to heal and a slow, steady return to work, and any prospective owner should be ok with not being able to do a lot of riding for the next few months.
                                      He's a handsome boy, good luck!


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                                        I usually dont mind a properly rehabbed bow in a horse that I intend to keep, or keep long enough to prove it can do the job on it.

                                        But this guy.. Well, his front end is SO HEAVY. He is so cute! But when I look at his whole package, I think trail horse, to keep him sound.
                                        It's so funny how pictures can tell such a different story than what a horse is in real life. In person he is light and agile like a cat, but he does have a big shoulder which I guess makes him look heavy in the pictures? He literally floats over the ground, even with those clunky soft ride boots on.

                                        The western folks think he'd make an amazing reining horse, not sure the chances of that with a bowed tendon??
                                        On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog