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Suspensory Damage - how long to rehab?

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  • Suspensory Damage - how long to rehab?

    So, as the title says, how long did it take to rehab your horse? What was the treatment proscribed by your vet? Any setbacks, etc, that you encountered?

    I suspect my retired mare may have pulled her suspensory in her right hind. TIA for your responses.
    Rebel Without Cash!

  • #2
    What kind of damage/injury are you talking about? The severity can vary...

    My friend's horse tore his suspensory over two years ago. He has been off the entire time, stall rest and handwalking ONLY. About four months ago he was able to get turned out again in a small dry lot and graduated to walking under saddle. He has finally been cleared to go back to normal work.

    She had stem cell replacement done, shockwave therapy, water therapy, special shoeing... well over $40,000 in bills. She is still holding her breath, not really believing that it's over.

    This was his second suspensory injury on that leg, btw. And he's only eight. I'm happy for her that he can go back to work but I won't be surprised if he eventually re-injures it. My fingers are crossed for them!

    Edited to add: I missed where you said she pulled the suspensory. The pulls I've been around always ended up as nagging, lingering problems almost for life. They can easily be re-injured.


    • #3
      My horse tore his last April. He had PRP in late Sept and has been walking under saddle since January. It is slowing healing.
      Original vet just had us turn him out from May to Sept - quiet turnout. There was no improvement.
      New vet we did PRP and we have had continued but slow improvement.
      However Sonny also avulsed (spelling??) some of the bone when he tore the suspensory. The bone wasn't healing so there was nowhere for the suspensory to start healing to.
      As part of the PRP the vet also did scraped the bone to re-injure it so it would get down to healthy bone with bloodflow that would start to heal.
      Sonny is 16 years old and his injury was the top origin of his right hind.
      Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


      • #4
        Hinds are harder to heal than fronts, I understand

        I'm working on a small high front tear at the moment. Horse was definitively diagnosed via ultrasound after an initial nerve block, shockwaved twice three weeks apart, and basically just handwalked and turned out in a small pen for a couple of hours a day for two months. I'm now back on him and have been for a couple of weeks.

        I have a planned program to follow of walking and trotting in straight lines on firm ground over the course of a month. This has proved quite hard to do at this time of the year as the weather has not cooperated--we don't need to be wallowing in mud, or riding on rocks, so I've been up and down the farm driveway until I'm sick of the sight of it...

        I now have a canal path to ride along, but it's got a steep bank into a fast moving irrigation canal on one side, and just a steep drop-off on the other, and nesting waterfowl in the underbrush, and horsie is a bit high at this point, so it's a bit hairy...

        I will get a follow up ultrasound done the week after next, and if all is clear he can start to go back into real work, which would be a blessing for all concerned. The injury happened in about the second week in February, and was fully diagnosed the following week, so he will have been rehabbing for about 3 1/2 months by then.


        • #5
          Bought my broodmare after she tore her right hind suspensory.Previous owners gave her 6 months stall rest and hand walking and tried to bring her back, but it wasn't working. Vet said, trainer said, owner said ,it was career ending injury and she would never be a showhorse again. She was only 8. I brought her home and turned her out then bred her the following spring.In march of 2008 she produced a gorgeous colt for me.Weaning time came and she needed a job to do as we did not rebreed her,(who can collect horses in this economy)we spent 7 months bringing her back into work.I am so pleased to say she showed again 2 weeks ago at a AA show and even won ribbons!The old owners, the trainer, and the vet are amazed! Funny thing about this horse however, she is a fence walker when turned out, constant motion.As much as I think the initial stall rest was good for the acute injury, I truly believe the turnout and self induced exercise at her comfort level is what healed her and keeps her sound today.From injury to show ring fit...3 years...


          • #6
            How retired is she? I would be inclined to put her out for a year with no work. That is what cured my retired guy, who strained both front suspensories.

            We did stall rest until the worst was over (a month?ish) and he was not horribly lame. Then we turned him out to let Mother Nature do its work. We had him checked once a month by our vet.

            We did not bute/give painkillers, so that his legs could better tell him what he was up to doing. Painkillers in the field can lead to reinjury because horse thinks it is better than it is. He was by no means miserable, just a little off.

            IME shockwave leads to a lot of relapses -- horses feel better so they do more than they should, and the tendon is just not strong enough to support it.


            • Original Poster

              She is pretty much completely retired, I get on her bareback maybe once a month and poke around in a little walk/trot. She gets put in the roundpen now and then so she can run around and buck and such, but she doesn't really work, per se.

              Thank you, everyone, for your replies. Fordtraktor, that was very interesting about the shockwave treatment. I can't afford it anyways, but it's still good to have in mind.
              Rebel Without Cash!


              • #8
                I would put her out in a big field 24/7 rather than a round pen for a few hours. The more that she is stalled, the more she will develop pent-up energy and need to run and buck even when it is bad for the leg.

                It is healthier for her if she gets enough movement just moseying around so that she doesn't need to run or buck. My guy basically walked and slow-trotted for the first 6 months he was out, then gradually ramped up the play as he felt better. He has a run-in for shelter but otherwise never spends time in the barn.


                • Original Poster

                  Unfortunately, we don't have access to a field. The closest to it is a 50' x 100' arena, and you can't turnout for a very long amount of time, if you're lucky enough to get it before someone else does.
                  I'm in Southern California, and the pasture board in our area isn't very good. Also, Chance has severe seperation anxiety issues, and she can be very aggressive at feeding time, so she can't be turned out with others. Even daytime turnout, being brought in at feeding times, doesn't work, because if her buddy leaves, she gets very anxious and will start running around and screaming and threatening to jump the gate, and I don't want her to cause even more damage to her leg.
                  She lives in a 24' x 24' pen with a 12' x 24' shelter. I would love to find a nice big pasture with lots of shade, and a quiet turnout buddy who will never leave the field, but unfortunately I haven't been able to find that.

                  Thanks, again, for everyone's replies
                  Rebel Without Cash!


                  • Original Poster

                    Bump - anyone else?
                    Rebel Without Cash!


                    • #11
                      Shockwave needs to be used in conjunction with sensible recuperation. You can't just shockwave and good to go. It's an excellent therapy if used correctly.


                      • #12
                        My 7 yr. old TB mare was diagnosed 14 weeks ago w/ a high suspensory lesion on her left front. she has been stall rested w/ 3 shock wave treatments since then. Initially restricted to walking in the arena and hand grazing. About a month ago, re-ultrasound cleared us to start to work very gradually (walk / very short trots) under saddle again, but she went off again shortly thereafter. Ugh. Back to walking, but still under saddle a few times a week. Ace is my friend.

                        I think that realistically, I would be happy to get her turned out again in a month or so. After stall rest, of course, it takes great care and some drugs to re-integrate them to outside time without them being nuts and re-injuring themselves. She is much better than she was but is not yet 100%....

                        The mental costs of stall rest are high. But my vet is firmly convinced that she wasn't improving on being turned out, so we went to pony jail. Good luck, hang in there. Hand grazing on the lunge line, so that when she has a 'moment', she doesn't yank the lead rope out of my hand, has saved my biscuits on several occasions.
                        I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
                        I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09


                        • #13
                          Cliffs Notes Version (longer version blogged)

                          Star strained his RF suspensory (high) in May 2008. Subsequent ultrasounds showed healing, but he was still lame. Blocked to feet. Went for nuclear scintigraphy/MRI (Aug 2008) which led to diagnosis of collateral ligament injury in foot. Between May and Aug we hand-walked and then tack-walked and then hand-walked. Did three shock wave treatments alternating with three IRAP treatments. Horse now sound, and resumed walking under saddle. Got impaction colic (I kid you not) the day (Nov 08) he was cleared to trot. Spent a week in the hospital, but no surgery. Started walking, and then trotting under saddle. Supposed to trot for one month and then recheck, but it rained. So, between that and the colic we didn't start cantering until the beginning of February. Month (actually 6 weeks) of cantering, then month of gradually introducing lateral work and counter canter. Cleared to jump April 8. Now jumping maybe 2'3"-2'6" and generally maintaining sanity (tho not today when the people across the way decided to put the mares and foals back in the pasture).

                          The vet said it would be OK to turn out in a small area and/or lunge on a huge circle after about three weeks of jumping. Haven't had the nerve to do it yet. Turnout options consist of 20-m-ish lunge pen (smaller than allowed lunging diameter) a 20x40-ish foot (sorry for the mixed up units) "sun pen" on a slight slope, a somewhat larger area with deep footing, and a huge arena. She said it might never be possible to turn him out in the large arena if he tore around like a maniac. Are you starting to see why he hasn't been turned out yet? I was kind of set to try the lunging last week, but he was due for shoes, his feet were kind of uneven, and he took a few slightly slightly off steps. So I chickened out. (he is fine now after getting shod)

                          Horse, like the OP's, is boarded at a typical California facility with option of pipe corrals or box stalls.

                          And that's the "short" version.
                          The Evil Chem Prof