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rehab woes: suggestions needed!

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  • rehab woes: suggestions needed!

    Long story short: 6 year old TB has been on strict stall rest for 6 months for a hoof injury while the hoof wall grew out. We are nearing the end, and the farrier and surgeons have given him the ok to start back to work, with walking/trotting on a lunge line only, 30 minutes total, 10 minutes of that spent trotting.

    Naturally, the horse is crazy and tranqs have been needed. He cannot have reserpine, because he has liver reactions to it. He blows through ace and it does nothing. So they gave me oral dormosedan. I've been weaning him off the dorm and seeing how it goes; I've hit the 1mL dose, and dropped him down to 0.5mL yesterday and he was completely uncontrollable and dangerous. I've been working him for about 2 weeks now.

    I need suggestions for how to proceed. He literally almost killed me; racing around, cutting in and almost running me over several times. At 17h & 1400lbs, it was bad news. I barely controlled him enough to bring him inside. The second he would calm down, the farm's effing turkey would gobble or a bird would call or he was sure he saw a jungle cat stalking in the woods and he'd be off racing again.

    The injury isn't a huge issue, since we've just been waiting for the hoof wall to grow so it doesn't collapse. It's almost there. So he's pretty much going to go from stall rest to back to work.

    I don't know if I should try letting him go nuts for a couple days, and wear my XC vest and helmet, or go back to the 1ml dose of oral dorm for a few more weeks and try weaning him off it again later. I feel like this problem will come back because when he's off the tranqs and gets his wits about him, he's spooking at everything he didn't notice while hopped up on the dorm.

    How do people get through this part?? The tranqs to no-tranqs part? And I feel so helpless at the end of a lunge line.... any suggestions for keeping him from running me over in a fit of crazy? I thought about a whip, but just its presence may send him over the edge.... I've never had to use a lunge whip with this horse ever.

    ETA: I'm desperate. I just need to get him somewhat normal so I can hop on him and really get him working and the crazies out.

  • #2
    I'm going through a bit of this with a very big TB who's normally the SWEETEST, quietest horse. Almost a dead-head under normal circumstances and perfectly mannerly.

    However, a six weeks of stall rest have done him in and we had an experience like yours last week--I am pretty comfortable holding a thrashing horse on the end of a rope, but this kind of scared me a little since I couldn't get him inside.

    He's not going out again until I get the dormosedan gel that I've ordered. Not worth my skin OR his.

    My hope is that he will be given the OK for turnout soon, and that a couple of weeks of the ability to be a horse again will have him acting like the quiet boy he normally is. He will be heavily sedated for the initial turnout periods.

    He's not mine to rehab (just boarding him in the interim) but my guess is his trainer is not getting back on him or putting him to actual "work" until he has a couple of months of turnout. Which IME is what makes them sane again.

    Can your horse be turned out?
    Click here before you buy.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      I'm sorry to hear, but on the other hand so thrilled to hear someone else is in the same boat!
      Yes, my gelding is a giant "elephant" normally. I couldn't beat him into a gallop if I tried under normal circumstances.

      Maybe I'll have to continue with the dorm until I can work him long enough to rid him of the crazies. I have a call in to his surgeon to ask about options, but wanted to ask here first to get ideas.

      He would be "allowed" to turn out, however all of the pastures have mesh wire fencing, and I'm petrified to turn him out because kicking through mesh wire fencing in a fit of crazy after being cooped in a stall for a few weeks is how he injured himself in the first place. It may be silly of me, but I just can't do it until I feel relatively confident I have my giant moose back, which means getting him under saddle so I can trot him until he dies.

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd turn him out. Freak accidents are no reason to take needless chances with your safety, or his.
        Click here before you buy.

        Comment


        • #5
          Turn him out before one of you gets seriously hurt.

          Can you turn him out in the arena for a couple of sessions before you turn him out to pasture?

          Or give him some Dorm for the first couple of times you turn him out so the excitement wears off--there's nice new spring grass so the excitement wears of pretty quick

          Comment


          • #6
            Any chance he would be better if you rode him?

            Can you give a little tranq, and then longe him?

            Or lightly tranq, turn out in arena with some hay?

            Or use 2 longe lines, on a training surcingle so you are long lining him and can use the outside rein to keep him out on the circle?

            Comment


            • #7
              Make a second fence inside the main fence with temporary posts and two wide hot tapes (easy to see). Start with a very small space and turn him out tranqued. Give him some yummy hay. You can slowly enlarge the space every few days as he gets his act together.

              Comment


              • #8
                I know this is an odd question but - can you ride him?

                I ask because, my mare also doing rehab...for many months - attempted to nearly kill my vet when she lunged her (turning in on her, kicking at her, rearing, plunging, twisting - very scary - and this is a naturally very quiet sweet horse) and that was WITH an IV dose of ace that would normally have her drooling and comatose.

                Interestingly enough though - same said horse - has been going along with me under tack fairly calm with oral ace at a low dose. Now granted if there is a dramatic event she will respond, a little offered jog and she did a few small bucks one day - but nothing scary and NOTHING like what she did on the lunge. Some horses are just more respectful under saddle.

                I will say the first time I got up there, I needed a tranquilizer though because all I could picture in my mind was her blowing up on the lunge and kept thinking: I'm dead. So you have to have a certain amount of balls or trust or insanity to get up there the first time and find out whether it's going to be ok. THe first time we tried it - vet came with me - we gave a generous dose of ace and put her on lunge. She still did a trot here and there unasked for but was kind of toe dragging. SO then I got up. The next day we repeated and lowered the dose of ace. It went ok. The third day we lowered the dose again. She was definitely awake and my girl is also 17h and 1400lbs. So I FELT the awake but the edge was off and we had no problems and that is the dose we stayed with.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Can you pony him? If he was on the track it is something he will be use to, and he will be much easyer to handle.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                    I'd turn him out. Freak accidents are no reason to take needless chances with your safety, or his.
                    Originally posted by atr View Post
                    Turn him out before one of you gets seriously hurt.
                    Now I realize my head is worth more than his, which is why I'm asking for alternatives, but I'm fairly certain that if I turned him out in a field he would hurt himself. Again. I have almost already decided if he needs serious rehab (e.g. for a torn ligament) I would have to euthanize because I cannot do "normal" rehab with this horse. So I am trying to save his life by not turning him out.

                    Originally posted by jetsmom View Post
                    Any chance he would be better if you rode him?

                    Can you give a little tranq, and then longe him?

                    Or lightly tranq, turn out in arena with some hay?

                    Or use 2 longe lines, on a training surcingle so you are long lining him and can use the outside rein to keep him out on the circle?
                    Yes, he would be MUCH better if I rode him, but I'm trying to get him to the point where I can get on him and I'm pretty sure he won't launch me into a fence. He's never thrown me before because he sucks at bucking, so I can handle some bronco, but he's crazy enough that rearing/flipping over isn't entirely out of the question...
                    I have been longing him with tranq's and can get a beautiful working trot out of him with the tranqs, but when we take the dormosedan "training wheels" away and give him ace instead is when the drama starts. My vets/farrier (rightfully so) will not let me ride him with dorm, only ace.
                    I considered long lining... however it's been a few years since he's used them and he's really good at the "sit and spin", and I worry he'd get tangled and it'd be a giant disaster. I'm not sure I want to take that chance either. But maybe I have to...

                    Originally posted by arlosmine View Post
                    Make a second fence inside the main fence with temporary posts and two wide hot tapes (easy to see). Start with a very small space and turn him out tranqued. Give him some yummy hay. You can slowly enlarge the space every few days as he gets his act together.
                    This is a good idea, but not sure it's feasible at the place where I board. They don't have hot-wire (and therefore chargers). Only mesh wire fencing. I may get desperate enough to bring him home where I can do that, though.

                    Originally posted by csaper58 View Post
                    Can you pony him? If he was on the track it is something he will be use to, and he will be much easyer to handle.
                    And this is a fantastic idea and one I had not thought of... though I'd need to find a pony... my only other rideable horse is 27 and not in the best shape to handle this.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Is there any grass where you are yet? If so, handgraze him for a while, then walk him twenty minutes, then either trot under saddle ten minutes or put him on the lunge then. Or just walk him in hand him with a chain over his nose or even a lip chain, until you can turn him out. Then start trotting him after he's had some turnout time.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by atr View Post
                        Turn him out before one of you gets seriously hurt.

                        Can you turn him out in the arena for a couple of sessions before you turn him out to pasture?

                        Or give him some Dorm for the first couple of times you turn him out so the excitement wears off--there's nice new spring grass so the excitement wears of pretty quick
                        Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                        I'd turn him out. Freak accidents are no reason to take needless chances with your safety, or his.

                        OK, going back to this.... what do you two suggest for turnout? I have access to an arena with the tall metal "gate" fence (you know, the stuff you string together to make round pens). I (think, I haven't checked for sure) that I have access to some small paddocks with "grass", aka weeds.
                        As I said, with the tranqs, he's fine. It's taking the tranqs away that is the problem. So, do I tranq him, turn him out, and let the tranqs wear off? Tranq him and lower the dose until nothing? Tranq him for a week with turnout and then see how it goes without them?

                        Another thing to consider is that this is a new barn for him; I had to move him a couple months ago. So he has never been turned out in these fields, never met any of these other horses, never have seen any of the scary things (it's right by the driveway, a VERY busy road, machinery, the freaking turkey, etc etc). It's not like he'd be going back to his old pasture, where he's comfortable.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by grayarabpony View Post
                          Is there any grass where you are yet? If so, handgraze him for a while, then walk him twenty minutes, then either trot under saddle ten minutes or put him on the lunge then. Or just walk him in hand him with a chain over his nose or even a lip chain, until you can turn him out. Then start trotting him after he's had some turnout time.
                          Yes, I'm in the south, LOTS of grass. We hand-graze every day. He's getting walked/trotted on a longe line for 30 minutes a day already, with tranqs. THe problem I'm having is taking the tranqs away in order to ride. I cannot ride him hopped up on dorm. It's too dangerous.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            So he acts crazy even right after he's hand grazed?

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Well, he's mildly tranq'd when he's hand grazed (ETA; he's grazed after he gets worked) because if I take him out without tranqs, he rears, strikes, and tries to take off every time something spooks him and doesn't give a hoot about the grass at all.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Timing is everything. Handgraze him before you work him. Tranq him at first and then wean him off of it.

                                He also needs more manners. Are you taking him out with just a lead rope?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I would get some boots to protect the wall, and I would take him off all grain, wrap his legs, put bell boots on and turn him out in a round pen or small electrified paddock with a bunch of hay, step out...then just let him do what he's going to do. But, that's just me.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    My rehab horse would explode if I walked him outside of the barn, so I closed up the barn and would walk up and down the aisle for 20-30 min per day. I always kept a pocket of cookies. He can't think about more than 1 thing at once when he is that nutty, and the cookies kept him calm and quiet. Eventually he could go without cookies, an after a couple weeks, he would be dragging his nose on the ground while walking.

                                    I used sedivet for turnout (.5 mL IV) and really liked it. I turned my guy out in a round pen after sx and extended stall rest and the sedivet keeps him calm for about 1.5 hrs. I supply beautiful Timothy hay in a freedom feeder net, which gives his brain something to think about, and I can just hang it on the fence.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Been through this with a horse that already had terrible ground manners when in a regular program. He turned into a dangerous MONSTER while stall bound and the transition back into work was the toughest. This horse wouldnt lunge, wouldnt hand walk. He needed his own program.

                                      Basically doped him up, give it some time to set in, throw two piles of yummy hay into a small paddock and hand walk him into the paddock and DIRECTLY to one of the piles of hay so his initial reaction wasnt to jog around. Some days he got a small amount of grain in a ground feeder the second he was turned out to take his mind away of initally being "free". After nibbling hay/grain for a good 15 minutes he would start to graze the grass and relax and enjoy the turnout instead of going nutso. Warmer days are best and no wind. I would keep him turned out as long as possible, sometimes posting up with a chair and my smartphone right next to the fence. If you THINK he is going to start to act dumb, bring him in. After turnout was when we did our walking undersaddle, which in your case would be the lunging. Its amazing how his attitude and mindset would change after doing this two days in a row. He would be exhausted after being turned out for two hours and walking undersaddle for 20 minutes.

                                      Another awesome alternative now that spring grass is coming in is to stop by the local tractor supply and by some plastic tposts and white chain and rope off some 24'x 24' paddocks, of course YOU staying with them the entire time, but trust me they are more interested in the grass than anything else. Best part is you can rotate where you place the tiny paddock and I usually chose to have one side next to a permanent building just for security. Sometimes I would hang a small hole hay net in his tiny temporary paddock so he was initally outside but occupied by the frustrating ball of hay.

                                      Rehabbing horses in the dead of winter is the worst. No yummy grass unless you have a patch of rye somewhere and the cold/ wind /rain makes it near impossible to be regular.

                                      Best of luck to you, if you have any questions feel free to PM me. I've been through it all and have helped friends in similar situations. Every monster is different.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by grayarabpony View Post
                                        Timing is everything. Handgraze him before you work him. Tranq him at first and then wean him off of it.

                                        He also needs more manners. Are you taking him out with just a lead rope?
                                        Why would grazing him before working him help any?
                                        Under normal circumstances, he has great manners. I can't fault him for being locked in a stall for 6 months, literally never seeing the light of day except once a month when he was trailered to the hospital for rechecks. I'd be a raging beast too.
                                        Chain is on the halter as a reminder, but not used (end of lead rope is clipped to the chain and halter, not just chain). He's super face-shy with the chain and flips over backwards every time it's used, even under normal circumstances. He was trained to have excellent manners so no chain would be necessary.


                                        Originally posted by reay6790 View Post
                                        My rehab horse would explode if I walked him outside of the barn, so I closed up the barn and would walk up and down the aisle for 20-30 min per day. I always kept a pocket of cookies. He can't think about more than 1 thing at once when he is that nutty, and the cookies kept him calm and quiet. Eventually he could go without cookies, an after a couple weeks, he would be dragging his nose on the ground while walking.

                                        I used sedivet for turnout (.5 mL IV) and really liked it. I turned my guy out in a round pen after sx and extended stall rest and the sedivet keeps him calm for about 1.5 hrs. I supply beautiful Timothy hay in a freedom feeder net, which gives his brain something to think about, and I can just hang it on the fence.
                                        Unfortunately we're already past 20-30 minutes walking. He's walking for 15-20, trotting for 10-15 on the longe. It's getting past the final tranq-to-no-tranqs hump that we're having issues with. And handwalking is far more dangerous than longing. If he spooks while I'm handwalking, he only has to jump a couple feet to land right on top of me.

                                        Originally posted by fairtheewell View Post
                                        I would get some boots to protect the wall, and I would take him off all grain, wrap his legs, put bell boots on and turn him out in a round pen or small electrified paddock with a bunch of hay, step out...then just let him do what he's going to do. But, that's just me.
                                        He's already off his grain since he was gaining weight, only gets enough to keep him busy licking the pan while I clean his stall.

                                        The turnout thing may be what I have to do. Cross my fingers and hope for the best... The farrier is coming out again tomorrow and I'll see what he thinks.

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