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Horse vs.Gate..the Gate officially won-why stall rest if walking increases blood flow

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  • Horse vs.Gate..the Gate officially won-why stall rest if walking increases blood flow

    About 2 months ago my horse somehow decided to wrangle with the gate..

    Exhibit 1:

    All seemed well, he had some war wounds but that about it, all looked superficial. A day or two later we noticed some swelling on the top half of his left front. We palpitated it with no reaction, horse was sound. So we immediately cold hosed and sweated the swelling and it started to go down. We gave him 2 weeks off and he was good to go. We headed to some shows, made our qualifications for a stakes class, all in all a really good turnout.

    Tuesday, we had probably the BEST lesson yet. We were jumping and for once my Jumper went around an entire course like a seasoned hunter! It was a long time coming and I was so excited, actually planned on going to a hunter show in 2 weeks to give it a go.

    Yesterday, we had a dressage lesson. Along with doing the hunter/jumpers, I was trying to expand Forrest's career and attempt to do some cross country events, hopefully next year, so we were taking a dressage lesson to see how he would take it. Forrest was lame and the tendon was swollen all over again. I called the vet for an ultrasound.

    Verdict, his check ligament is VERY swollen. She said that while it wasn't the most important ligament, she has cut many before on horses, it does cause pain. But the underlying factor was that Forrest had a very small tear dropped black shape on the upper part of his suspensory, closest to back of leg. I was devastation. I know its not the end of the world and horses come back from these all the time, but I have spend 2.5 years getting him healthy and battling his SI injury to build to muscle to support him. We were FINALLY hitting the point everything was connecting and we were starting to hit the three top colors in our classes. We had plans for a Greg Best clinic and finishing our season with the TCHS, which all is out.

    Forrest has to be on stall rest for about 4mths (min). I can only hope his best attribute, bouncing back fast, will kick in full gear for this not fun adventure. I have never dealt with this before, so if anyone has any tips, supplements, exercises, etc that have helped them that would be great. I'm really down and out right now and just plan sad

    Some additional information was that it was a lateral tear versus a vertical, not sure that makes a difference, and his lameness, biggest wuss anywhere, was a mild 2.
    Last edited by cswoodlandfairy; Aug. 30, 2012, 12:35 PM.
    Calm & Collected, 13, OTTB
    Forrest Gump (Catasauqua) , 17, OTTB
    Little Bit Indian, 29, TB
    Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook

  • #2
    I currently have one on stall rest (week 2) with a superficial tendon injury.
    Right now we are still in the cold hosing and full stall rest, but the vet has said he is ok to walk outside to where we have the hose set up. I have found this little bit of walking and change of scenery is really helping him. He is a good guy about stall rest, but even still it sucks.
    We have cut back his feed to stop him getting hot.


    • Original Poster

      Thanks Sport! Luckily my guy is really laid back and very independent.

      But that brought up another question I have...

      I know that stall rest is important because it limits the horses movement. But I also know everyone says walking is the best thing because it increases blood flow as they move, which in turn would help heal the tendons.

      Being that my horse is very laid backed and doesn't gallop or do anything dumb in the field, would turnout be better for him?

      Right now he's most definitely on stall rest so we can get the inflammation down and get him "sound" again (yes I know sound doesn't mean healed), but once its down, wouldn't it be better that hes out, if anything in an injury paddock?

      May be a dumb question, but curious since its my first experience with this.

      Also do the Horseware Ice-Vibe boots help?
      Calm & Collected, 13, OTTB
      Forrest Gump (Catasauqua) , 17, OTTB
      Little Bit Indian, 29, TB
      Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook


      • #4
        I didn't ask the vet about turnout, but she brought it up. She said that although they want handwalking, in Sport's case starting week 3, turnout was not an option.
        Her feeling is that if something startles them they respond without remembering that they are injured, and that this can happen to even the quietest horse.
        So controlled movement was her suggestion.
        Worth discussing with your vet though and maybe someone else will chime in with suggestions.

        I started a topic here in health care last week looking for information about tendon injuries and got some good advice regarding cold hosing and icing and such. The topic is likely on the second or third page by now.

        I am not sure about the boots, I am still figuring that all out. I am currently cold hosing 3 to 4 times as day and then a furacin sweat overnight. I was using ice packs, but I needed to be there to put the wraps over (I don't have ice boots), so it was easier to have someone else cold hose during the day. Not sure what I will do when the barn rats go back to school next week. :-)


        • #5
          Originally posted by cswoodlandfairy View Post
          Being that my horse is very laid backed and doesn't gallop or do anything dumb in the field, would turnout be better for him?
          There's no such thing a what you describe. Even the most laid back, easy going horse has the potential to do something whether due to their own brain or something random like a bee sting or other freak-out-producing stimulus.

          It's not the 99% of the time out that's bad, it's the one bad step or decision that sets you back to square one. And it may not even be in the acute phase of the injury, it could happen right in that time where things are starting to heal and the horse feels better and then....bam, back to square one.
          Flying F Sport Horses
          Horses in the NW


          • #6
            It might be worth looking into a Game Ready. My trainer has one and uses it on her schoolmaster (windpuffs/random swelling in old age), a horse that's coming back from a stressed tendon, and a pony who has tweaked his back and was sore in his hind legs. She also uses it on her FEI horse from time to time.

            If he does start to get restless and destructive, ask your vet about potentially putting him on a sedative. Horse mentioned above with the tendon injury needed one to keep him from walking circles too much and being a spaz when taken out for hand walks.

            runnjump86 Instagram

            Horse Junkies United guest blogger


            • #7
              Yep, controlled exercise only. Really. Speaking from personal experience, my horse re-injured himself with just a simple wrong step quite late in the recovery process.


              • #8
                Risk vs. benefit. While modest exercise MAY help healing by POSSIBLY increasing blood flow (this is not necessarily a given in all situations) the chances of making things worse outweighs the potential benefits.

                An adult human with a ligament injury is not kept in bed because he/she can rationally understand the need to avoid risky behavior. A horse just can't.

                Other than in the case of fracture or really dreadful injuries, most vets give the OK for very brief, very limited, very controlled "sanity walks" daily.
                Click here before you buy.


                • #9
                  It's not to increase blood flow - at least not from what I've read. The controlled exercise of walking puts a little bit of strain on the injury and it helps the new fibres get laid down along the tendon instead of randomly in all directions. This produces a more flexible and stronger scaring than the random clump. Which in turn means a reduced chance of reinjury.

                  At least that's what I understood about the reason for handwalking...


                  • #10
                    Note have not ever dealt with a suspensory, only check ligament injuries.

                    My vet has always said where ever he will stay the most quiet.
                    She wanted him moving for the reason RedHorses posted but most certainly did not want him causing more damage.


                    • #11
                      Yes, there is a point at which new collagen needs to be laid down in an injured tendon/ligament, and putting the limb under controlled stress with progressive weight bearing (usually on a firm surface) can help the new collagen develop a good, usable matrix that is long and parallel and tough.

                      But in the very early stages of injury, that's not what the main concern is.
                      Click here before you buy.


                      • #12
                        of course ask your vet, but for the injured horses I have had they have been worse on "stall rest" than in a small private paddock. Actual stall rest means they are in a stall. In the barn. Away from their friends.Even with one buddy kept in with them. And resulted in stall walking, which was worse than limited turnout. Mine have done better being quiet in a tiny paddock off the barn (solo turnout) next to their buddies where they can see them.
                        Providence Farm


                        • #13
                          Actual stall rest means they are in a stall. In the barn. Away from their friends.Even with one buddy kept in with them. And resulted in stall walking, which was worse than limited turnout.
                          For sure that is not the optimal situation. I am SO lucky to have my own barn where I have configured 2 of my stalls into a large foaling/rehab stall (12 x 24 feet) and that stall has two doors that open out to the sacrifice paddock where most of my horses hang out. So a "confinee" has a little more room, gets to stick his or her head out and be with the group, who generally like to hang out right there since that's their shaded horse porch.

                          I even hang hay bags close to these two doors so the horses can share hay bags, and one of mine (sadly on stall rest WAY too much the last couple of years) enjoys fighting for hay with his buddies just as if he were outside.

                          The problem comes when I turn the group out on grass and the confined one is left behind. At that point closing the two Dutch doors worked best, leaving him room to see the group out of the barn door via the windows and fronts of the stalls but no temptation to rush/batter down the doors to get out.
                          Click here before you buy.


                          • Original Poster

                            Great! Thanks for the comments.

                            Forrest does a lot of walking in his stall when hes out of hay and bored. Unfortunately we don't have anyone else to stay in with him, but his stall faces the field the others are kept and I know they come up to hang out often because its also where we keep the water. But when we hand graze him all hes concerned about is grass, which is why i wondered if the cripple pen would be best because it boarders the field with water and hes got grass, heaven forbid he starves to death.

                            But we are most definitely keep him in until further notice. I cold hose it, then give it a break (usually clean his stall and feed him in another) then ice it for 10 minutes. Once the leg is iced we take a long walk around the large pasture and back into the stall. There are some grazing moments in between. He's been very good, but then again its only day 2.....

                            The vet is coming back out in 6 weeks to re-scan, but she told me to hand walk and graze him often...so this is our plan
                            Calm & Collected, 13, OTTB
                            Forrest Gump (Catasauqua) , 17, OTTB
                            Little Bit Indian, 29, TB
                            Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook


                            • #15
                              I would not say he is so quiet outside after seeing the pretzel shape he left that gate in after he tangled with it.

                              Do run by your vet about a little pen, maybe four 12' panels, that you can make outside.
                              You can keep him there for a few hours a day of still confined in space, but outside and not in a stall alone.


                              • #16
                                I went through a month of stall rest for my horse not too long ago. Vet said 15-20 minutes/day of hand walking; could graze on lead rope in not too open area. I had some ace which i only gave orally a couple times, but for the most part the horse cared only about eating! Had to hand walk in the ring as she would.not.walk. in the grass - only eat.

                                Also I invested in a nibble net - they aren't cheap but really help slow down/stretch out the horse's feeding. And because they get turned around backwards, also give said horse some entertainment. It also seems (relatively) indestructible.

                                Even the month was a long haul; so OP you have my sympathies....Hang in there.
                                We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


                                • #17
                                  Years ago one of our guys had bilateral front suspensory lesions and a deep digital flexor tendon bow. On stall rest, he kicked out the sturdy stall wall. Our vet advised paddock rest, and he recovered fully.

                                  If we ever build another barn, I want a configuration like Deltawave described. I think we could have done stall rest if he had a 12x24 stall and a way to interact with his friends. The paddock, with an attached stall, was our best option. I don't think I ever saw him run around in the paddock.