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Torn Extensor Tendon - When to start galloping?

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  • Torn Extensor Tendon - When to start galloping?


    My horse has torn an extensor tendon in his back leg in January. Since then I have done slow recovery work with him through to now and have just started riding him again with some small trots.

    I would like to know from those who have experienced this type of injury when is a good time to start galloping him? Currently, when I ask him to canter on the lunge, he is hesitant and seems to have a 'stiff' leg. He use to be like this at the trot, but we worked through it and he is now trotting normally. Should I be pushing him to canter?

    He is kept turned out and canters regularly in the pasture. When riding him at having him trot, I am having real difficulty holding him back. Should I let him go and see how he goes or push him on the lunge until he seems to be cantering normally?

    Any suggestions/experiences would be really appreciated.

    I should also note that he is a Standardbred ex-trotter with a real go forward attitude.

  • #2
    Where is the tear/bow, how severe was the tear/bow, how was it diagnosed, when was the last re-check of the healing progress, how much scar tissue, if any, is present, what is your veterinarian's recommendation?


    • #3
      At 7 months, if u/s has shown it's all healed, unless there is something else going on, my experience with this (yes, been there, hind leg) means you fit him up slowly as if he were very out of shape and coming off an injury. Oh wait, he is LOL!

      You have the benefit of him having been turned out and active there, but I would ignore that and treat him more conservatively.

      So, how long have you been riding him, how long did you just walk (duration of rides, and timespan), same for trot, and same for canter?
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


      • #4
        The tear happened in mid-January, but wasn't diagnosed until March. During the time between injury and diagnosis he was rested with no work. He is a fence kicker and has had injuries in the past which just healed in about six weeks, so this is what was suspected at the time. When he was still not looking right, and various treatments has been tried, we had the vet out.

        She had a look and said that an ultrasound wasn't necessary. It was a extensor tendon tear and would take approximately twelve months to recover to the best that he can. She advised to begin with lunging and build up the time to 30 minutes slowly over 6-8 weeks; then to start riding him at a walk slowly and add time each time. I believe she said not to gallop for 8 months.

        The tear is right above the hock on the inside on the back right leg. There is some scar tissue, as there is a small lump that is not very noticeable.

        I have followed the routine and at first his walk was limpy and his trot bad too, but over time both of these have come to looking relatively normal. Because of my job, I am only able to work with him on weekends. I started riding him roughly 8 weeks ago only at a walk for 10 minutes, gradually increasing the time. We have increased to walking 2 km (1.2 miles, not sure how long) with no signs of pain or strain. Last weekend, I took him for a little trot 1/4 km (.16 of a mile), and it was really hard to pull him up. This weekend I tried to do a repeat of last week, but was unable as he was too unruly and wound up--snorting and trying to rear up 3 or 4 times. I ride him on a dirt 1 km training track, and there were two trotters out, which got him wound up. We did a little trot in the yard, but the ground is soaked through so I am limited with what I can do with him until everything dry out.

        I have not cantered him -- but he is dying to do it. I have attempted to get him to canter on the lunge, but I can only get him to do a few awkward strides before he drops to trotting and it is only with a lot of encouragement. I have been lunging him for ~20 minutes before our rides.

        I have been thinking about giving the vet another call and having her come out to see him again for a check up. She didn't advise a re-check, just to call her if I have any queries.


        • #5
          I should probably also note that this is my first horse. I have had him for six years and he is used for pleasure riding. I'm an experienced rider, but not as experienced in care, although I do a lot of research, ask a lot of questions, and try to do my best for him.


          • #6
            I am not even going to guess since you have no idea what exactly is going on in there. I don't understand why you would ever need to gallop a pleasure horse however. Get an ultrasound and quit guessing.
            McDowell Racing Stables

            Home Away From Home


            • #7
              I just followed the vet's advice in regards to the ultrasound.

              We gallop because he loves it.


              • #8
                Get an ultrasound.


                • #9
                  Because it is fun?


                  • #10
                    Get an ultrasound, and a vet who can explain to you how tendon injuries must be treated, or go search on the eventing forum for hind suspensory surgeries and start to realize how long term debilitating these injuries can be.

                    The rehab is so important. I don't think most of us would consider longeing at this point in time. The circle in entirely too small even at 20 m which I suspect is bigger than you are using, and put entirely too much stress on the hind legs.

                    Your education in the horse world is just beginning. Start reading.
                    Taking it day by day!


                    • #11
                      I'm confused by your comment the tear was above the hock. AFAIK the ET joints its muscle right about hock level

                      However, the peroneous tertious tendon is above the hock - is that what you mean?

                      My horse has severed/torn both, respectively. In neither case did it take anywhere near 12 months for him to rideable. For the ET tear I was riding 4 months later. For the PT rupture I was riding 4 months later.

                      ETs have a very high rate of return to regular work, something like 80% or so. I don't know for PTs, but suspect it's a bit lower because many of them can come at the expense of ripping off hock bone.
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET