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Pelvic fracture in horses -- anyone experienced this? SURPRISING UPDATE :)

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  • Pelvic fracture in horses -- anyone experienced this? SURPRISING UPDATE :)

    If so, what were the symptoms, how was it diagnosed and treated -- and what was the original prognosis?

    Last edited by sid; May. 26, 2011, 05:52 PM.
    www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
    "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
    Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube

  • #2
    A horse at my previous barn had one. My info is second hand, but they found the fracture with a bone scan after the horse started acting "not like herself" i.e. a normally calm horse would get really fussy and difficult under saddle. Never took a lame step though.

    After the scan came back, she was on stall rest for several months, was given Tildren and treated with shockwaves. I moved before the horse was ok'd for work, but the prognosis was good.


    • #3
      Interesting, I would not have chosen to use a bisphosphonate on a fracture! Weird!


      • #4
        I believe it is usually diagnosed at least initially by a rectal exam.
        McDowell Racing Stables

        Home Away From Home


        • #5
          I have had 2, both resulting from falls. Both were pretty lame as first indicator and both diagnosed by rectal palpitation. The first one, a yearling went on stall rest for about 3 months and came out of it fine, has had 4 foals since with no complications.
          The second, a gelding who was 12 at the time did not adapt to stall rest, pretty much destroyed the stall and acted like he was possessed. He got progressively worse and I ended up putting him down as I was very concerned that he would get down during the winter when no one was around to help him.
          It was a sad day but I don't regret it, I think it was the right choice for him.


          • #6
            Rectal exam, horse very reluctant to walk.

            Local vet came out and said "broken pelvis - put her down." Owner didn't like that, hauled her 2+ hours to a specialty clinic, tried to manage with pain patches, etc., with marginal success.

            Euthanized, it was the kindest option. Mare was in a tremendous amount of pain.


            • Original Poster

              I think ultimately it's diagnosed with by a rectal, after other possible causes of reluctance to walk -- i.e. bilateral hind end lameness eminating from the lower back/croup -- are eliminated (inability to absorb selenium, azoturia, EPSM, Lyme, etc.) From what my very seasoned vet tells me, internal swelling can prevent diagnositic rectal until sometimes weeks after the initial injury.

              Just waiting for the selenium to come back. All other diagnostics were normal, though the mare has had recurrent Lyme and this may just be a very bad relapse. Have on Doxy in the meantime to see if we see some improvement. Sometimes you just have to treat clinically as a process of elimination, which is frustrating.

              This mare is the queen of her 2 buddies, and saw a mark on the outside of her LH cannon bone, that looked pretty superficial. No evidence of her falling. She's a sensible gal. Though I have read they can fracture the pelvis from being cast. She's been living out, but it can happen near a fence, so I'm suspicious about that cannon bone ding.

              I'm praying it's not a pelvic fracture, but it's sure acting like one.

              All experiences will be very helpful. Thanks.
              www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
              "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
              Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


              • #8
                We had a 15 year old fracture his pelvis about 20 - 25 years ago. He had lost a shoe, and was lame. Shoe replaced, and his owner put him on the lunge line for a quick check to see if he was sound yet. He was until his hind leg slipped about a foot across under his body, and came up hopping. It looked like something a horse would do every day, out running around.

                Morven did the rectal, and u/s, but said they would not xray as he would have to be dropped, and would likely shatter it when coming out of it. They gave him very little hope, recommended he be put down, and said at best, he may be able to do some light trails. They were thrilled to follow his progress, and I believe opened up their thinking on recovery.

                He went in the stall for 6 months. After, he was short on that leg, but with a years turnout, he was about 99%. His owner began to ride him, and worked him up to doing 1st level dressage, and jumping 3'. It was always just not quite perfectly sound, but nicely serviceable.

                A couple of years later, he developed navicular in both front. I fond that this can often be the case after a long period of confinement. He was a tough guy, and with egg bars & pads, continued to be ridden and compete into his mid twenties.


                • #9
                  I have a boarder right now with one. He slipped on ice while living up in CT and rode the trailer down here (PA) about two months later. Owner was in MD at the time and they had suggested he be euth'd. She asked them to wait until she could get there and by the time she did, he was grazing and walking a bit.

                  He's on paddock rest with no stall and no meds. He'll have another rectal in a few weeks to make sure it is healing. He goes for walks with her and seems quite happy! His prognosis is good and they expect that she will be able to ride him again. BTW he's a 19yo TWH. Good luck and keep your chin up!
                  "A lie doesn't become truth, wrong doesn't become right, and evil doesn't become good, just because it's accepted by a majority." Rick Warren


                  • Original Poster

                    I guess a real prognosis is hard when one can't take the risk of radiographs to see how severe or even where the fracture is.

                    I suspect this is why some succumb and others don't...or have partial recoveries to soundness.

                    Darlyn, great outcome for that horse and the owner. This is Ballroom Dancer (aka Hanna). The first of Bo's foals with Richochet.

                    Again, not yet sure this is it, but just want to get all the data I can to inform myself more fully.
                    www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                    "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                    Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                    • #11
                      My horse was diagnosed by ultra sound at New Bolton. I came out to the barn to find him barely able to walk, I initially thought he had tied up from our jumping lesson earlier that day. Vet came out next morning and he was put on robaxin, bute and stall rest for a couple of days.

                      He was more comforatble but still not quite right. He would drag his back toe when I lunged him to check his progress. I noticed he would not use that leg to brush flies off his belly and was not lying down as usual.

                      After he was diagnosed he was put on 6 months stall rest which did not go well. Coliced twice, surgery twice, put him down after 2nd surgery. It was a rough 4 months.

                      I was told the prognosis was good but did not work out for us. Good luck!
                      "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." --Ghandi


                      • #12
                        The one I know of was (is) a h/j. He came up lame, but if you rested him, he'd be fine. They'd ride and he'd be "off" again the next day. The vet couldn't put his finger on it. A different vet went out, did a rectal and found the break. Horse was rested for over a year, but never really came sound enough to ride consistently. Luckily, the owners were in a position to retire him and he is a very successful pasture ornament.

                        Your beliefs don't make you a better person, your behaviour does.


                        • #13
                          2/5 lameness behind with muscle atrophy, and a definite "hitch" in his stride. Pain when palpated over fracture site. It took us some time to get a diagnosis because we kept thinking it was lower. Vet could not diagnose via blocks and ultimately suspected pelvic fracture. Brought in an ultrasound specialist vet who performed a rectal ultrasound. FX was slightly displaced and midway along the ilial body. A "good" location. Vet wanted me to high-line horse for 90 days, but I didn't due to his age (23). So we did stall rest for 90 days, followed by stall/tiny paddock rest for 90 days. Overall rest was nearly a year. Horse came back sound and went back to work.

                          You generally can't take rads since it requires general anesthesia and laying the horse on his back, all of which is too great a risk with such an injury. Ultrasound is non invasive and you can get great imaging that way.

                          Prognosis generally depends on the fracture location (near a joint, etc) and degree of displacement. The horse's temperament and ability to deal with confinement also comes into play.

                          The greatest risk is during the first 90 days or so, as force from movement and getting up/down (if you allow that) can cause catastrophic displacement. I had to watch my horse carefully and was warned that fracture could get far worst in an instant.


                          • #14
                            I worked at a farm where a horse jumped out of the outdoor arena and fell when she landed. She absolutely refused to walk once she was up. It took us hours to walk her to a stall.

                            Vet found the fracture by rectal exam and also found a large hematoma/blood blister about the size of a baseball inside related to the fall. He had no choice but to pop it....that was really something to see. I felt awful for the poor horse.

                            She was supposed to make a full recovery and was ordered to be on stall rest for several months. About 2 weeks into the injury she kept refusing to get up. It took 3 of us each day to get her to her feet. I'd sit with her for hours each day because she hated to be in that stall.

                            Sadly, in the end she passes away. I'm not sure why. The day before she passed she had a great day. She was up, eating and really alert. The next day she was just as bad as she was the first day it happened. When I arrived at work the next morning I was told she had passed.

                            I think that as long as the break isn't bad and stall rest can be managed the horse will be okay.


                            • Original Poster

                              Selenium came back normal. Vitamin E analysis was sent to Michigan and should be back within a couple days.

                              Interestingly, Hanna did lay down the first day (where I observed incredible muscle spasms going from her flank through her ribcage almost to her elbow and looking at her side, as a mare would do when foaling, or a colicking horse would do). She was in the resting position.

                              It appears, as there is no bedding in her tail or body, that she has not layed down since. So maybe she knows what's best for her. Some horses are wise that way and she's a smart gal.

                              As far as stall rest, she's always been happy to come into her stall, so that's not a problem. The problem is her 2 buddies.

                              She's extremely herd bound to them, as they've been with her since they were weaned. So I have them in as well to help keep her quiet. Luckily, I can to rotate them to a dry lot right outside her window for some turnout so they don't get out of sight. I hate to sacrifice their freedom, but until we know what we're dealing with the goal is to keep her still as possible.

                              This is the last thing I could have imagined for this horse, as she's top dog and was out in a 5 acre field with no obstacles or obstructions.

                              I sure hope it's a Vita E absorption problem, because that has a better prognosis. My concern her problem is bilateral, which could indicate a fracture closer to the spine than one of the "wings" (don't know the technical term).

                              Thanks again for sharing your experiences.
                              www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                              "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                              Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by equinelerium View Post

                                After the scan came back, she was on stall rest for several months, was given Tildren and treated with shockwaves. I moved before the horse was ok'd for work, but the prognosis was good.
                                I doubt this was a pelvis fracture. Shockwave can not penetrate the tissue layers to reach more the the illiac crests and Tildren, while not interrupting normal initial fracture healing will cause delayed remodeling and subsequent resolution of the fracture.



                                • Original Poster

                                  May I ask those who had or knew of horses that survived a pelvic fracture...how long was it before you started to see some improvement while on stall rest?

                                  That is, how long after the intial injury could see a noticable improvement and they started turning the corner (regardless of how long you had to keep them confined)?

                                  This mare can barely walk. That's where we are right now, so that's the start point.

                                  The more armed I am with other information/experiences the better I can prepare myself for what might be ahead for my girl.

                                  www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                                  "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                                  Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                                  • #18
                                    My trainer's daughter's pony had this. Greenish pony, rider miscalculated distance to jump, and pony flipped over the jump. Resulting bilateral hind lameness. Pony was on stall rest for months with a zip line across top of stall as they did not want her to lay down at first. The pony was out of work close to a year, but came back to normal work.


                                    • #19
                                      Lost my old mare to one last year. She fell one day, vet was out and she was doing fine, we were talking rehab but went downhill overnight. She crossed the rainbow bridge the next morning. Just one of those freak things, I miss her every day.


                                      • #20
                                        I've had two- both recovered, with stall rest.

                                        Both presented, actually, like a horse with an abcess- did NOT want to bear weight on that leg. Both were diagnosed with a rectal exam.

                                        I had a Veterinary friend tell me that quite often, you don't know if they had one, and they simply die in the field, or stall, because the fracture splinters, and hits a blood vessel, and they bleed out, internally. Not nice.

                                        Mine started feeling better after a couple of weeks. One healed sufficiently in 45 days, the other was in a stall for three months. I added Ester-C, and MSM, amongst other things, to their feed.

                                        Best of luck!
                                        When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them- Maya Angelou