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Horse with broken pelvis UPDATE: post 15, RIP Lyric :(

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  • Horse with broken pelvis UPDATE: post 15, RIP Lyric :(

    Does anyone have any experience with the whole stall rest, rehab of a horse that has broken a pelvis.
    It looks like that is what I will be dealing with. Vet was out Sat and did a rectal exam and some manipulations of the leg and hip joint and believes that there is a break in the pelvis. She could not feel the break at the time as the bladder was full and during the exam she found some fresh blood in the manure she had pulled out. Because of this she did not want to further irritate the area with additional physical exam and ultra sound so we will be doing a follow up ultra sound and probably another rectal exam on Thurs to determine where/how bad the break is.
    Vet says the outcome is probably not the best...she might always be in pain...maybe the injured side leg shorter...might never be totally sound in that leg...possibly a pasture puff is all I will have. Personally I don't mind if she spends the rest of her life as a pasture pet, it's better than the alternative of losing her. If all I can get is pasture sound I would be overjoyed, anything better is a bonus.
    I've been searching for everything I can find on the web about fractured pelvis' in horses and what I have been able to find isn't quite as bleak as the picture that was painted for me. There are failure stories and lots of success stories too where people have even been able to ride again. And success stories of the horse being able to be pasture sound even if the break was in the joint area or near the joint. The key seems to be imobilize the horse as much as possible for the first several weeks.
    I know alot depends on where the break is and how the bones are positioned.
    I know I would be in for several months of stall rest and pain management. Regular checkups to see if the break is healing (sometimes they just dont heal for whatever reason.) Does anyone know if the pelvic joint is broken do horses form false joints? I've heard that sometimes in large animals and even dogs, if a hip gets dislocated they can form a false joint.
    If you look at my filly she has NOT given up, and I don't want to give up on her if there is a chance she can heal and lead a pain free life. She has some pain (getting 2 grams bute a day at this time, which seems to be working fine for pain management)...but she's alert and interested in her surroundings. She's lost a little weight and I am adding some more calories to compensate for healing. She is eating pretty good still. Getting a little picky with all the medicine in her food, but still has a good appitite esp. for the alfalfa just added to the menu and her daily tub of fresh picked grass.

    So I was hoping I could get other folks experiences. The good the bad the ugly...all of it. Ideas for weight managment, pain management, stress management, boredom (Thinking of getting her a babysitter pony or mini to hang out in the stall next to her for company, a goat I don't think I would be able to confine so it didn't escape =) How do you know when you've tried everything you can and it's in the best interest of the horse to be put down...even if they still haven't given up.
    I know of one gal who is in month 3 of her horses confined full stall rest of recovery. Been trying to compare notes a little with her and just looking for more ideas.
    Tomorrow I will be moving her to a smaller stall. That was one thing she was told an 8 x 8 stall and my filly has been in a 12 x 12 and I think because she has the room to move around so much it's preventing the healing from being able to start.
    Hopefully I'll have a better feel for what I'm up against on Thur after the next exam.
    Last edited by Kigercat; May. 29, 2009, 11:55 AM.

  • #2
    Although I have not experienced a broken pelvis personally I have known some horses that have. It really depends on where and how serious the break is. One mare I know was riding sound well into her 20's with only a noticable hitch in her get along when she was tired. Pasture sound is very possible even if there is some displacement in the break.
    No, I don't believe a horse will form a "false joint", to much muscle and mass to support I would think.
    Its just a wait and see situation which might require some patients on your part.


    • #3
      A friend of mine has a horse who broke his pelvis some years ago. I am not sure how long he was on stall rest ,but he is now 21 years old ,and hunts regularly in second field.He had some lameness issues this year ,but after getting his hocks injected he felt like a million bucks. I suspect he has some arthritus issues but whether they are related to the injury ,I don't know. He recovered amazingly well ,and went on to hunt as a masters horse for a couple of years before moving back to a less strenuous position.


      • #4
        Our barn has a therapy horse that broke his. We made his stall smaller by stacking cheap hay bales on 2 sides. That way he always had something to munch but he couldn't move around much. And he wouldn't hurt himself if he bumped into them.

        He healed and is back to being a therapy horse. (Walk only).


        • #5
          I'm at the tail end of 4 mos. stall rest for my mare who fractured her femur. It was thought she might have broken her pelvis. A nuclear scan was the only thing that could really pinpoint the problem.

          I'm just starting hand-walking now and will take her back up for another scan to see the extent of her healing.

          Have you thought about a scan?
          www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
          "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
          Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


          • #6
            We had a mare a year ago break her pelvis. We had the local vet out, he said that it was bad and we would probably end up putting her down.

            We shipped her to the clinic, they kept her for 4 days. The break was pretty severe, and she wasn't responding well to the pain management, so we decided to put her down. That particular mare would not have responded well to stall rest, etc, so it was for the best.

            I hope you will have a better outcome than we did.


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by sid View Post
              I'm at the tail end of 4 mos. stall rest for my mare who fractured her femur. It was thought she might have broken her pelvis. A nuclear scan was the only thing that could really pinpoint the problem.

              I'm just starting hand-walking now and will take her back up for another scan to see the extent of her healing.

              Have you thought about a scan?
              What is a nuclear scan? The vet hospital here told the gal with her mare they would do a standing ultra sound from the rectum. That is what we are doing Thur, probably along with just the exam to see if the break can be felt.


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by Personal Champ View Post
                We had a mare a year ago break her pelvis. We had the local vet out, he said that it was bad and we would probably end up putting her down.

                We shipped her to the clinic, they kept her for 4 days. The break was pretty severe, and she wasn't responding well to the pain management, so we decided to put her down. That particular mare would not have responded well to stall rest, etc, so it was for the best.

                I hope you will have a better outcome than we did.
                How did you ship her to the clinic? I don't think we'd have much success getting her on a trailer. She really isn't putting lots of weight on the bad side, and I'd be afraid of her slipping and going down in the trailer on the drive.

                I don't think the stall rest will be an issue as much as trying to get her up if continues to lay down (about once a week). It's hard to get her back up as she doesn't use the bad leg at all.


                • #9
                  Is this the mare that could barely be handled initially? If so, I'm glad you were able to resolve that part! Good luck with her.


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by twofatponies View Post
                    Is this the mare that could barely be handled initially? If so, I'm glad you were able to resolve that part! Good luck with her.
                    Yes, the mustang filly that pretty much reverted to almost totally wild state again.

                    Did a search on the neuclar scan and I don't think she'd be a candidate for that. She is handlable now, but still very spooky and mistrustful of a lot of things.

                    If it can't heal with just stall rest I don't think my outcome is going to be very good. If we give that a shot I'm definately going to ask about reserpine to help keep her calm/relaxed.


                    • #11
                      Jingles that the results of the ultrasound are promising for recovery!

                      You mentioned that she's not putting much weight on the injured side; if you do end up with her on a long period of stall rest, you might want to consult with your vet and farrier about how to minimize the chance of opposing limb laminitis occurring.

                      Good luck.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Kigercat View Post
                        Yes, the mustang filly that pretty much reverted to almost totally wild state again.

                        Did a search on the neuclar scan and I don't think she'd be a candidate for that. She is handlable now, but still very spooky and mistrustful of a lot of things.
                        I work at a large equine hospital here in Lexington and have extensive experience on how the nuclear scans are performed here. For one thing they are not done unless the horse is very sedated-- because freaked out pony+very expensive bone scan machine=very expensive repair bill with loss of machine during downtime.
                        It is rare that a horse will freak out during the scan but that's not to say that it never happens.
                        Just wanted to clear the air on that.
                        The only difference between a runaway and a fast gallop is nothing but a SMILE
                        Most horses cross the Rainbow Bridge, but TEDDY JUMPED IT!!!
                        Member of the COTH Enabler Clique


                        • #13
                          My sixteen-year old Thoroughbred mare broke her pelvis prior to age six (haven't tracked down exact details or age of injury). She was used as a brood mare, had five foals, and seems happy and healthy... but I don't ride her because the vet said it might hurt. She has some muscle wasteage between croup and hip and walks with a funny hitch, but plays and gallops on her own. (I keep her in a large pasture with another mare). She lies down in a real odd way that makes people think she's going down with colic, but it's just her way: she spreads her front legs, puts her nose down and sinks almost to her chest, sways a little, and then gets up and sniffs around for a better place and does it again until she finds a good spot. I think she may have developed this when she was injured and couldn't lie down normally. Vet says she's fine and as far as the pelvis, when I asked him about doing mri or other tests he said not to bother because she's healthy and happy. I take her for walks.


                          • Original Poster

                            Feeding to support a broken bone?

                            Has anyone heard of or used OCD pellets? On some of my searches through everything I can find on healing Pelvic fractures or just healing broken bones in horses I've come across OCD pellets a couple of times. Supposed to help promote bone growth.
                            OCD web site is here...stuff is spendy but doesn't look like you feed a whole lot. http://www.ocdpellets.com/shop/

                            Also had someone say I should try an ultra sonic bone stimulation machine. You put it over the affected area for 20 min a day and it's supposed to increase the rate the bone regenerates?

                            And what about adding like a foal & weanling food for added calcium and phosphorus?

                            Still hoping the Thur ultra sound gives a hopeful prognosis.


                            • Original Poster

                              She's gone

                              When you have 2 Equine Specialists both say the same thing you have to do what is right for the horse.
                              Post mortem exam (manual exam and manipulations) showed that the pelvis was broken in the joint at the top of the femer, and it was inconclusive if the actual ball of the joint was also broken, suspected the way things were moving but not positive. They didn't autopsy the hip although I did offer if it might help learn something that would save another horse at a later date with a pelvic injury. I was not there for that part (my sister and friend were) but I called my vet later to ask what they found.
                              Lyric went fast with no fighting. I think she was ready. She didn't eat much today, not even her grass with her usual gusto. You could see how tired and hurting she was in her eyes.
                              My vet asked a couple times before starting if this was my decision, was I sure. I told her it's not what I Want to do, but it's what I Have to do for Lyric. I held her for the first shot and she just leaned on me and put her head on my shoulder and started to really relax for the first time in weeks even sounded like snoring a little. When she got real wobbly like she was going to fall they took over and I left the barn as she went down, and was not there for the exam or when they took her out of the stall and barn. Went out to the field and cried on my other horses till the vets left. Sister said for them to go ahead and go I'd rather just be left alone, they were both worried about me and upset about the oucome, that it hadn't been better. They both knew that pasture sound was all I was shooting for. The consult vet kept saying what a nice little filly she was and how he wished it could be different. But the nature of the break the bones were deteriorating and not healing. It was getting worse instead of better. When I went back to the barn she looked so tiny under the tarp.
                              She would not have any type of quality of life and the end result would eventually be the same...after prolonged confinement and pain for her. It was the right thing to do and I know it in my heart it was the best thing for her, but it still hurts so d**n much


                              • #16
                                I'm so sorry.


                                I always have a hard time understanding why doing the right thing hurts so much.

                                Vale, Lyric.
                                Originally posted by Martha Drum
                                ...But I don't want to sit helmetless on my horse while he lies on the ground kicking a ball around without a bridle while Leatherface does an interpretive dance with his chainsaw around us.


                                • #17
                                  I'm so sorry...


                                  I'm so very sorry about the the loss of Lyric.

                                  My horse just finished Month 7 of layup for a pelvic fracture. His fracture was not near a joint but midway along the ilium (the huge bone that runs from the sacro iliac joint to the hip joint) and he was given a good yet guarded prognosis for recovery at the start of all this. Even so, it's been a really tough haul with my gelding. There has been many months of worrying if he will further displace this fracture simply by walking or getting up and down. It's a solid 12 month layup. With an injury like your mare had, there is just no hope for a good recovery. You did the right thing, this is a terrible injury and even with my simpler case, I thought long and hard about if rehab was the kindest choice for my own horse.

                                  My heart goes out to you. I hope that with time, your grief will soften. Godspeed to your sweet girl. It's just so unfair sometimes.



                                  • #18
                                    So sad walking out to the barn to feed breakfast this morning (Kigercat is my friend and our horses are together). I've gotten used to peeking around the corner with fingers crossed, hoping for some good news to report.

                                    She's out of pain now. Kigercat and the rest of us? It'll take longer to get us out of pain...
                                    Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.


                                    • #19
                                      You did the right thing for Kiger....that's always the right thing, albeit oh so painful

                                      ((( Many Hugs )))
                                      <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                                      • #20
                                        I am so sorry