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LF suspensory injury

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  • LF suspensory injury

    Hi, Im new here and im just looking for advice/encouragement.
    I have a 8 year old unraced (not even tattoed) TB gelding. we are low level eventers. This past march he came up lame, he never had any heat or swelling, he just wasnt right. I took him to the vet and it was determined through ultrasound he had a high tear to his suspensory ligament in the LF. he's been on stall rest ever since. We've had a few bumps in the road but all in all its gone pretty well.

    He started handwalking back in june and in mid august he was 100% completely sound. I started riding him for 5 minutes of walking and slowly built up. Just when i was supposed to bump up from 15 minutes of walking to 10 minutes of trotting he had a spazzy moment and i wasnt paying attention and fell off. reins broke as i was getting up and he took off bucking for maybe 10 seconds and then he decided it was much more fun to eat grass. caught him and got back on for 3 minutes just so he didnt think it was ok to be spazzy. gave him a couple days off and then had a friend watch while i jogged him to see how he was. He wasnt lame, but wasnt 100% sound.

    I called vet and she came out and thought he looked off, but we decided to give him a week off, thinking maybe he's just sore from bucking and not having any muscle. she came out just to job him the day before i was supposed to bring him in to the clinic just to make sure he was lame so i wouldn't be wasting my time and day off. he was better but still not right. so i brought him in the next day. he was a million times better then he was the day before, she thought i had drugged him, which i absolutely had not. the only thing was he would take a bad step maybe once every 15 strides. during that week off he got his feet done, so we thought maybe he's just a little ouchy from having his feet done 2 days ago, so vet blocked his foot and he was perfect. i was told to continue riding for 15 minutes of walking 10 minutes of trotting and vet would come back in 30 days to check.

    That was last week. He still off every once in a while, sort of lame in the indoor but he was sound jogging on hard ground. she did a flexion test on his foot and he was positive to that so she pulled the shoe and said she thought he had some bruising and told me to have a heavier shoe on with the shoe thicker in the heel then the toe. I called the farrier and he didnt think he need his heels raised and said his feet werent bruised, that the dark spots were iron pigmentation from the nails in his shoe. he agreed on the heavier shoe, so i ended up getting a bar shoe to support horses frog. I rode him friday saturday and sunday and he pretty much feels the same. hes sound with intermittent periods of lame. its a very slight lameness, vet said 1/5. The farrier really thinks that something is going on in his foot just from the shape/size of the foot (its smaller then the rest) and being sound when blocked.

    Im waiting for the vet to call back so i can give her an update and schedule a time for her to come out this week. I'm just not sure what to do. my poor horse has been on stall rest for 7 months. I guess i was just wondering what other people might think, its it likely to be a shoeing problem or something else like navicular? the vet really doesnt think the lameness is from his suspensory injury.

  • #2
    I know what it is like to go through suspensory rehab, so, first off, let me just say I'm sorry. It stinks. Hang in there.

    I lived in fear of falling off of my horse while he rehabbed, so I know how horrified you must have been to see him cavorting about. I did not fall off of him during the rehab process, but a friend of mine did fall off of hers while rehabbing a suspensory and he was lame for a few weeks. BUT, he did get better and is perfectly sound and competing now.

    So. If this was my horse, I would have made the vet do an ultrasound of the suspensory. That's really the only way you will know for sure if the suspensory was damaged during his cavorting about. I would also probably change vets if my vet did not believe me that I did not drug my horse. But that's for a different thread.

    What you are describing in terms of intermittent 1/5 lameness is, unfortunately, very consistent with suspensory pain. That is exactly how my horse's lameness appeared when his suspensory was healing (his was RF).

    I don't know diddly about your horse's feet, of course, so I can't speak to that. But if your horse's lameness coincided with his unexpected bucking jaunt, I'd be VERY inclined to suspect his suspensory is the problem. Now, the differently shaped hoof, etc. may be the root cause of the suspensory injury, so that is definitely worth looking into in a larger sense. There usually is a reason for front suspensory injuries. In my case, we think my horse's front suspensory injury was caused by hind end weakness (stifles).

    But, I would definitely want an ultrasound of that suspensory, and I would definitely back off the work until you are 100% sure about what is causing his lameness. If he's reinjured, even slightly, you don't want to continue at the same workload, and you definitely don't want to increase.

    As an aside, going from 15 minutes of walking under tack right up to 10 minutes of trot seems pretty fast to me. With my horse, we worked up to 30 minutes of walking under saddle and then added 2 minutes of trot, then five minutes of trot, then 10 minutes of trot...staying at each level for two weeks. It was a long, boring, exhausting process, but it seems to have done the trick (KNOCKING ON WOOD!!!).

    I hate to say this...but...maybe try a new vet. I used three (third time's the charm) before I settled on the right lameness vet for my horse's suspensory injury. Everyone else wanted him back in work too fast, didn't ultrasound, etc. I think it is really critical to have a vet that specializes in lameness when you are dealing with something like a suspensory injury. The right lameness vet can mean the difference between a fully recovered horse and one that is perpetually not quite right.

    PM me if you would like to talk. I'm really very sorry that you are going through this. It is awful, I know. But you CAN come through the other side! Really, really, really - you can!


    • Original Poster

      thanks for your response! I guess i should have been more thorough, but i was trying to avoid a novel length post. i guess i should have embraced it.

      he was ultrasounded the first time the vet came out after i fell off. she found no new damage and no swelling, and thought it even looked better than the last time she scanned it which was about 30 days prior. which is probably why she doesnt think its the suspensory thats is causing this new lamness. shes pretty much ultrasounded him every 30 days. except for the most recent time when she pulled his shoe, but when she comes out the next time ill probably have another ultrasound done.

      and about the workload...again i should have been more thorough..my bad. we started in june with 5 minutes of handwalking every day and every 30 days we added 5 minutes of handwalking until mid august. i started riding him for 10 minutes of walking for 30 days and then increased to 15 minutes of walking and 5 minutes of trotting. i fell off right before i was suppose to increase to 10 minutes of trotting. which i guess is still more than what you did with your horse.

      ive thought about getting a second opinion especially now. i guess ill see how the next visit goes before i do that. i do trust the vet and she was a lameness vet at the local university vet hospital before moving. she is new to the area but my dressage trainer knows her very well and has used her when she'd go up to the university. but there is another leg vet in the area i could try.


      • #4
        Got it! Well, I'm glad to hear it has been ultrasounded post-runabout. If it looked good and he's still off...then...hard to say.

        And don't change vets if you are happy with the one you have! I only suggested that because some people are afraid to change vets even when they really are not happy with the care their horse is getting. I'd probably give this vet a chance to try to figure it out, and then maybe try another specialist if it doesn't go anywhere. Second opinions are great, and should not be offensive to your vet, FWIW.

        Either way, hang in there!


        • #5
          The "off on soft ground, fine on hard ground" thing makes me very suspicious that the suspensory got tweaked again.

          Been there, done that, got the postcard. It does get better, but as you have discovered, it takes time and patience!

          And to be honest, from watching myself and others go through this, I think most suspensories go through two goes to get rehabbed--you think you got it right the first time, get back to work and then Bammo! Something dumb happens that screws it up again, and if you aren't back to square one, you are back down the road again.


          • #6
            Originally posted by atr View Post
            The "off on soft ground, fine on hard ground" thing makes me very suspicious that the suspensory got tweaked again.

            Has he been trotted on a tight circle for the vet?

            It may sound like it, but it's not the end of the world. If he's tweaked the suspensory, he may just need a few weeks of stall rest and some hand walking.

            I'd stop riding him until I knew for sure what was going on.


            • Original Poster

              yes he's been jogged and lunged on a tight circle several times. vet is coming out tomorrow to re-block his leg and find out exactly where is is lame, and then go from there. i guess another suspensory issue is better than something like navicular.

              Thanks for all your advice!


              • #8
                Originally posted by wizzie View Post
                yes he's been jogged and lunged on a tight circle several times. vet is coming out tomorrow to re-block his leg and find out exactly where is is lame, and then go from there. i guess another suspensory issue is better than something like navicular.

                Thanks for all your advice!
                Good luck tomorrow. Let us know what you find out.


                • Original Poster

                  ok so here is the update:
                  the lameness exam was wednesday and the lameness is not in his foot. The vet nerved blocked the back of his foot, then his whole foot, then his fetlock progressing all the way up to the suspensory. Then he finally jogged sound.

                  The ultrasound was today. The vet found no new damage. all she could find was a small area from the original injury that wasnt 100% healed. It was about 90% healed, she still didnt think it warrented the level of lameness. either way clearly he isnt healed.

                  So we decided that we'd go back to complete stall rest and try 3 round of shockwave treatment. Its not great news but its better than what it could've been. *sigh*


                  • #10
                    I know it's frustrating, but I think you're on the right track with rest and shockwave. One of my horses was off (worse than it sounds your horse is off now) due to just an enlarged hind suspensory. No tear. Given everything you've said, I would also think that the suspensory is still the issue, even though it doesn't look so bad on the ultrasound.

                    I opted for rest, 3 shockwave treatments, and a very, very gradual return to work. (knock wood) he came back great. Hopefully with some additional rest and shockwave, he'll be back on the road to full recovery.

                    Good luck!