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OK, here's a dilemma to chew on: coming off stall rest options (Updated, page 2)

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  • OK, here's a dilemma to chew on: coming off stall rest options (Updated, page 2)

    Preface: I am going to do exactly what my vets recommend on this topic.

    But here is the story, and the two options I've got available to me for the "next stage" in rehabbing a horse.

    Keebler injured his navicular bursa/DDFT in early July. In late August we finally made the diagnosis (yes, one of those difficult, pesky "working diagnoses"!) and in early September he had surgery. (This is all on the blog in my signature, although it's in need of updating)

    He's been on stall rest since that time--had been allowed out on a limited basis before that because he was too lame to do more than walk around and he displayed very good sense about things at that point. Right now he's getting hacked at the walk 20 minutes, almost every day per his vets--prior to that was up to 30 minutes hand walking.

    He's clinically sound at walk and trot, and the vets are VERY pleased with his progress. Has his special shoes and is on NO medications. Looking and feeling GOOD. So good, in fact, that he's doing airs above the ground in his nice big stall on a regular basis and I have to Ace him heavily to ride him.

    So he has a recheck next week, and I'm anticipating that at SOME point they're going to give me the OK for turnout. That brings me to my two options, and I'd like to pick the collective COTH brains to see if I'm thinking about things sensibly, and to hear any experiences/collective wisdom on the topic.

    Assuming he gets the OK for turnout and continued rehab under saddle, here are my two options:

    1. Keep him at home, in my big, beautiful 12 x 24 foaling stall where he has views of the whole property and the pony and two babies right outside his stall to keep him company, turnout with them as allowed even up to 24/7 (probably sedated) but as the weather gets worse limited ability to ride. I haven't an outdoor arena, much less an indoor! Evil Lake Michigan winds will let up in about April, and although riding CAN be done, it is miserable. He's a Florida boy--he took one look at the snow this morning and didn't want to even go out and roll on the lead! Trailering to my trainer's barn every day is not an option with my schedule. OR the weather!

    2. Move him to my trainer's barn, where he'd be in a 12 x 12 stall with little contact with other horses. More limited turnout there, and probably solo. However, I could ride him every day in an indoor arena. It wouldn't cost me anything, so that's not a factor.

    Again, I intend to do whichever the vets think is best. Just trying to prep my head and ask the right questions after hearing some pros and cons from others who have been there/done that.

    Last edited by deltawave; Dec. 3, 2010, 09:05 AM.
    Click here before you buy.

  • #2
    Do you have time and the desire to ride every day? If not, I would keep him home. More time off never hurt anyone.
    McDowell Racing Stables

    Home Away From Home


    • #3
      There are 2 schools of thought, generally:
      1 - work them up to normal riding before turning out, as you can fit them up in a way that makes injury in turnout less of a threat
      2 - slowly work up to full turnout with hand walking as appropriate

      In your case, I think it will be the lesser of 2 evils.

      *I* would probably choose your place for his mental health You can pick up riding in the Spring sometime
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


      • Original Poster

        Time I have mostly--probably 5 days a week is do-able.

        Desire is strongly there to do the right thing by the horse. Not so much to freeze my arse off outside! If continued walking/escalating work under saddle is going to help him, then I'm absolutely willing. And an indoor arena would certainly be nicer for both of us.

        You sort of touch on maybe the philosophical question that I've been formulating, though (thanks for bringing it into focus)--is 24/7 turnout and wandering around as beneficial as mostly standing in a stall and walking under saddle for a short period each day? Provided, of course, that the foolishness can be controlled, which I think I can handle with pharmaceuticals.
        Click here before you buy.


        • #5
          T'were it me.... I'd keep him home.

          Glad to hear he's healing so well
          <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


          • #6
            I think I would keep him at home. That way you have total control over the turnout situation, which can either make or break the rehab program.


            • #7
              I'm glad he's doing so much better - though I hate it when they feel so much better they try and do stupid things that might get them hurt again. (I swear, horses are suicidal)

              You know your horse best - how do you think he will do mentally with what appears to be a significant management change?

              My personal preference is for a horse to be out as much as possible or as indicated when recovering. (depending on the injury and what the vet says, of course).

              My concern with your trainers facility (which I'm sure is lovely) is that he'd be standing around most of the time, then worked, then put back. I wonder if, in the end, it that would prolong his return to full work/full recovery rather than shorten it. At home he'd be under your watchful eye, he'd be able to move more freely for a longer period of time, (as indicated/permitted) that sort of thing.

              Your schedule sounds pretty flexible to maybe getting to the barn frequently isn't a problem. The last time I had to deal with a long rehab I was getting up at 3am, going to the barn, then going to work, coming back, going back to the barn..... and I really wished I'd had my own place. Far less stress for me and the horse. I'd freeze my butt off either way, though.

              Hope the horse continues to improve.
              Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
              Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
              -Rudyard Kipling


              • #8
                Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                You sort of touch on maybe the philosophical question that I've been formulating, though (thanks for bringing it into focus)--is 24/7 turnout and wandering around as beneficial as mostly standing in a stall and walking under saddle for a short period each day? Provided, of course, that the foolishness can be controlled, which I think I can handle with pharmaceuticals.
                IME (having dealt with 2 separate incidents of ruptured/severed tendons, though thankfully neither of those were weight-bearing), an emphatic yes.

                Constant light movement means a constant increase in circulation which can mean faster healing. Light movement helps force some organized scar tissue formation - stronger than pixie stick formation.

                Obviously it's not black and white - some injuries NEED to have very, very controlled exercise as the risk of further/permanent damage is high. Only your vet can tell you how that relates to this specific injury at this point in time.

                I would THINK that given he's been through 30 minutes of hand walking and moved on to 20 minutes of u/s walking, that more free choice movement (assuming quiet LOL) would be better than circling around a 12x12 stall and only getting 20-30 minutes of "real" exercise a day.
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                • #9
                  i would have to agree that 24/7 self Quiet exercise would be better than stall and 20/30 minutes of riding.
                  If i'm posting on Coth, it's either raining so I can't ride or it's night time and I can't sleep.


                  • #10
                    I would personally pharmaceutically influence behavior as necessary and keep him home. IMO, for all horses, but especially one that has been on stall rest, turnout is so important to his mental health. Would be a shame to come this far and end up with ulcers or something from stress of little/solo turnout/interaction at the trainer's.


                    • #11
                      I'm with the stay at home persuasion, myself.
                      "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                      ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                        Time I have mostly--probably 5 days a week is do-able.

                        Desire is strongly there to do the right thing by the horse. Not so much to freeze my arse off outside! If continued walking/escalating work under saddle is going to help him, then I'm absolutely willing. And an indoor arena would certainly be nicer for both of us.

                        You sort of touch on maybe the philosophical question that I've been formulating, though (thanks for bringing it into focus)--is 24/7 turnout and wandering around as beneficial as mostly standing in a stall and walking under saddle for a short period each day? Provided, of course, that the foolishness can be controlled, which I think I can handle with pharmaceuticals.
                        I can offer my personal opinion having been through both (stall rest vs. turnout). I'd always go with 24/7 turnout if I had to go through it again. Ofcourse it always depends on your horse's diagnosis, but if you have the option go with more turnout. While one of my horses was recovering from a suspensory, he was on stall rest and was at the point where I was walking him u/s. I was minutes into our walk and I felt it go - he retore his suspensory just by our walking. A friend of mine took him and just turned him out. She said she had all the time in the world to wait for him to recover on his own. The vet told her to leave him alone for a year and let him heal on his own. He is now carting little beginners around and has healed nicely.

                        One of the vets at the equine hospital recommended a little bit of turnout each day. My trainer counseled me against that as she said that he had a greater chance of hurting himself if turnout was "new" each day. Once he was turned out, he settled after just a few minutes and that was that. Sorry to go on for so long, I've had more experience with this than I care to.

                        I just think turnout is so much more important for their mental and physical health.


                        • #13
                          Sounds to me like he's doing REALLY well and you've worked him up to quite a bit already.

                          My biggest fear would be ice, snow, mud, wet. If it meant no turnout all winter, I'd probably keep him on the very controlled routine.


                          • #14
                            I know you are a brave eventer type, and I am emphatically not but my concern in your shoes would be my own safety too. I'd be inclined to keep him home and let him recover his brains as well as his body, and then get back on him when it warms up a bit and they are all rather less sparky.

                            I know you can drug him to keep him under control, but (you would know better than I) it can't be good for them to do that consistently, if you've got an option.


                            • Original Poster

                              Thanks, all.

                              To clarify a bit, he wouldn't have NO turnout at my trainer's, but it would be probably 4 hours a day, the rest in a 12 x 12 stall. At home I can definitely be more flexible and if he IS inside, the stall is twice the size. He's a little horse and can actually trot circles in there!

                              Mentally, well, he's a colorful horse. VERY colorful. He's coping as well as can be expected, and actually is the "ulcery" type, but seems to have good spirits, relatively speaking. (He is the pin the ears and pull faces type, and when you actually look at him the ears go up and he says "What? Who? ME?") He gets TUMS daily and doesn't display too much crankiness, really, beyond his normal temperament. It really helps that he has his beloved pony--if I take her away he FREAKS.

                              That raises the risk of pathological attachment, of course, but he's a "been there, done that", seasoned traveler of a horse who's been a lot of places and I think that will all go away when he has a job again.

                              I'm more of a wussy eventer-type, but his hijinks are not at all mean, just posturing and frustration. I feel sorry for him, but do not put up with any nonsense! I know they could crush us all like chicken bones in a second, but (especially with drugs on hand) I think he's safe and sane and not a hazard to anyone.

                              Ice, snow, and mud are just part of life between now and early May, so I don't see how that can be avoided. Unless I send him to Florida with my trainer. That is actually an option that I may consider if she goes for more than a few weeks, and assuming he's ready to do "more" by then.

                              Keep the thoughts coming, thanks again.
                              Click here before you buy.


                              • #16
                                I have been in a similar situation with my horses, although with different injuries. I'm leaning toward the keep at home option, myself, as that is my personal preference (but that is, for me, due to the lack of quality boarding facilities in my area more than anything).

                                I would present the two options to your vet when you go for the recheck and get his/her opinion. I have done this with mine and it has steered me in different directions. Sometimes he really wanted the horse to do some controlled exercise and not be turned out, while in others, he wanted the more constant activity that turnout would provide. Really depends on the horse, the injury, and the options for care/turnout/exercise/etc.

                                I'd see how the recheck goes, talk to your vet, and go from there. Sounds like things are going well so far - good for you!


                                • #17
                                  I would be worried about the footing in turnout in the winter where you will have snow and clumpy ground or slick frozen or wet ground.
                                  That I think could complicate keeping him from hurting himself.

                                  Sending him to Florida for turnout in a warmer and sandy situation sounds good to me.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    You're all helping to crystallize the things I need to ask the vet, thank you so much.

                                    Bluey, if the danged animal gets to spend the winter in Florida and I don't, he'd better be a whole lot less grumpy when he gets back!
                                    Click here before you buy.


                                    • #19
                                      If that horse goes to Florida - I volunteer to be his groom.

                                      It got cold here all of a sudden. I feel the need to hibernate. And eat chocolate. Not necessarily in that order.
                                      Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                                      Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                                      -Rudyard Kipling


                                      • #20
                                        coming from having much soft tissue injury experience with myself and horses... (are there anymore "my horse and myself are the most uncoordinated mammals on earth" smile icons to insert?)

                                        This happened this summer...
                                        that's not so long ago. it's just as close as yesterday.

                                        I'd keep him home. Turn him out until next year.
                                        Toodle on him when you have the time and the weather is well enough.
                                        Is the snow so terrible where you are that he will miss out on turnout at your house?
                                        That would be the only issue. He needs constant low impact slow work for a while--on good solid ground.

                                        Start him back to work in April.

                                        As my rule of thumb (that I stink in every post having to do with rehab) I like to double the time off vets recommend.
                                        Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!