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Collateral Ligament Damage

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  • Collateral Ligament Damage

    I'm looking for any feedback from anyone with experience rehabbing a horse with collateral ligament damage and to what level of work the horse was able to attain after rehab.

    My horse slipped a week or so ago in the snow and hyper extended a back leg sideways, at least that's our guess as to what happened. Results is an almost completely torn collateral ligament and a 1 inch chunk of bone broken from the medial area of his hock. Original verbal prognosis after surgery to remove the bone fragment was that he may be able to return to jumping eventually, but at discharge his prognosis was poor for athletic work and good for pleasure riding....however this is not a horse with a temperament for pleasure riding.

    Since my vets seem to only be able to provide anecdotal feedback I thought perhaps I'd try gathering some of my own.

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    Stem Cell for the collateral ligament or IRAP alternating schockwave has been very helpful. Good Luck! Lots of rest and very very slow rehab, loading the adequan and then monthly legend and adequan is helpful as well.


    • #3
      My trainer's fellow client had a horse with mild collateral ligament injury. He was back to jumping in 9 months, but again the injury wasnt very significant.
      I am rehabbing my gelding with significant tendon tear, and my understanding is that the injuries to tendons and ligament are somewhat simular in healing process. Discharge summary was rather pessimistic.
      Last week (about 8 months after injury) we went for a checkup to another vet last week and he was rather optimistic about his future as a lower level dressage horse. My horse, just as yours is not a candidate for trail riding...
      Be patient, take it very slow, and good luck! Its a long road and hopefully both you and your horse have strenght and willpower for it.
      Piece of advice- watch out for other things which could happen while rehabbing.. I pulled the shoes off, en route to a more natural approach (he wore shoes pretty much whole life) and missed his other hoof rotating to accomodate uneven hoofs and him being naturally unlevel. Do not get stuck on injury so much that you will miss other things, the whole picture is more important...
      Read Road to Recovery, there are a lot of examples of successful return from rather bad injuries, it all depends on the horse and treatment.
      Also, there is an article in february issue of Practical Horseman on torn tendons and ligaments.


      • #4

        I have to say, Collateral ligament strikes fear into my heart unlike any other
        I've known lots of horses that came back great, but a bunch who did not come back at all.
        Take your time, do it slow, and get after the inflammation as fast as you can.
        I second the IRAP or any alternative technology you can get your hands on.


        • #5
          I strongly suggest that you get rads of your horses feet and be sure that they are balanced and stay balanced. An unbalanced foot and healing a torn collateral ligament are incompatible.. so be sure the foot is balanced. No eyeballing it.
          "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks so far. I read the IRAP requirements and one of the parameters made me think he is not a candidate but I'll talk to my vet. This horse had stem cell therapy 2 years ago for a bone cyst, after which he spent a year competing...was for sale, now this. I'm pretty much beside myself trying to figure out what's best for him. He's in a hard cast and this morning laid down and couldn't get up. Three hours and an emergency vet call later we were able to get him standing. He's now at a lay up facility but is it worth it to put this horse through this??? I have another young horse I need to spend time and money on plus my daughters show ponies....Should I put this horse through a long miserable rehab to spend the rest of his life as...what? He is only 7 years old!


            • #7
              Our mare tore the collateral ligament in her right front leg. 8 months stall rest, immediate alternating weeks of shock wave therapy for 4 treatments I think? She healed with no adhesions, and is 100% sound. You cannot even tell she had any damage to the ligamament.

              The additional bone problem in your guy does not sound too good, IMHO. I hate to tell smeone what to do but I'd give him a few weeks and see how he reponds to the rest and therapy. (Can they shock wave through a cast? Our horse was unwrapped in the stall.....vet said stable wraps would do nothing for her long term recovery.)

              Good luck to your guy!


              • #8

                your vet won't like me saying this, mine wasn't happy either but there wasn't much to do. My horse recovered from one while turned out in a big field 24/7. It took over a year. He is (OMG, I cannot believe I am saying this and am knocking wood!) perfectly sound now. He would not stall rest.

                I did attend to his every need of course during that time including Adequan, MSM, excellent nutrition and balanced feet, but otherwise he was on his own.
                "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                • #9
                  I have dealt with two lateral collateral lig. tears in front legs. Both had only some tearing, one had a core lesion. Did shock wave on both (3 sessions) along with stall rest, graduated to hand walking for four months. Both times it healed completly and horse is back again (now at age 19) competitive at FEI dressage.

                  Your does sound quite a bit worse...best of luck to you and your horse.
                  Whispered Wish Weser-Ems: Breeding quality German Riding Ponies!
                  Standing the stallion Burberry


                  • #10
                    My TB-X eventer tore his lateral collateral ligament in his left hock six years ago. He was on stall rest for 3 or 4 months, but during that time he was hacked out daily - just for 20 minutes or so - at the walk.

                    He had 3 rounds of shock wave during that time. After six months the vet gave us the go ahead and start working again, including jumping.

                    He has gone on to do training/prelim level horse trials. He is stiff on that hock, but he is able to warm up out of it and jumps fine off of it.

                    So don't lose hope. Just take it slowly.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by EqTrainer

                      your vet won't like me saying this, mine wasn't happy either but there wasn't much to do. My horse recovered from one while turned out in a big field 24/7. It took over a year. He is (OMG, I cannot believe I am saying this and am knocking wood!) perfectly sound now. He would not stall rest.
                      SAME here! My guy had a bad collateral tear in front and clinic's prognosis was 50% chance of ever becoming pasture sound. He had to go on boxrest etc.
                      But he was boarded at that time and I was away and the place just turned him out lame . Best thing that could have happened to him in hindsight. 6 months later he was back under the saddle, totally sound and never had a problem with the foot since.
                      We kept him shod, wide web bar shoe to keep the foot stable.

                      I've said it before. In the past they used to cast humans when they tore a ligament, now docs will give you a supportive tape and send you to physio. I know you can't apply the same idea to horses, as they don't understand "take it easy", however keeping them moving in a controlled way might make them heal stronger I believe.


                      • #12
                        In the middle of rehabbing one with damage to the collateral ligaments that connect the coffin bone to the short pastern. We did six weeks of alternating IRAP and shockwave and then started u/s work about two weeks after that. There have been a few setbacks, but we finally just finished the month of trotting (having started it three times) and were given the go-ahead to start canter work at the recheck today. His damage was more of a strain than a tear and is obviously in a different part of the leg than the OP's horse (there are collateral ligaments connecting bones all the way up the legs). The prognosis is pretty good.
                        The Evil Chem Prof


                        • #13
                          I agree with posters who chose to turn their horses out vs stalling. My neved lived in a stall even when he was sound and there was no way he could mentally survive stall rest for 6 months. Plus there is a lot of research showing that in order for tendons and ligaments to heal they have to work and thus horses to move. So, unless a horse if fine in a stall and the owner or caretaker is able to handwalk him several times a day (my recommendation was 5-10 mins every 2 hours :O) there is only one way out.

                          Mine is stalled during the night in a breeding stall and out in the pasture for a day. I did put him on a stall/paddock rest while doing IRAP and shockwave and handwalked twice a day and horse was simply miserable..Seeing him being this way was something I could not bear and now he is happy as a clam with 3 minis he is turned out with. He does run and buck occasionally, but I knew it would happen and decided I would rather give him another 4-5 months or rest than end up with horse mentally fried after months of stall rest. Plus, our diagnosis was so bad the vet told me I have nothing to lose.