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Rehabilitation support group

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  • Rehabilitation support group

    I KNOW that there have to be lots of fellow cother's dealing with rehabilitation for a horse who is clearly not listening to our polite requests to treat the problem area with tender caution....

    I could use some long-term sanity/support, and I figured that others could too...and be able to give some tricks/advice in the meanwhile to make it easier for everyone involved. Plus, a cheering squad is always a great thing!!!

    I know I don't have it as bad as many of you, but here is my story:

    My 6 y/o gelding had surgery in May, to 'debride' the splint bone and remove excess scar tissue that was impinging on the suspensory ligament. He has been on stall rest for almost 3 months now. He had previous surgery on the same leg in december of 05, to remove a sequestrum and remove decayed bone caused from a splint fracture in June of 05. His bone just forgot to stop repairing itself, I suppose .

    Now that the surgical site has settled down, the vets are sure that there is no damage to the suspensory itself , but he has a significant amount of scar tissue around the surgical site, and is still healing from that process.

    So, we are on a plan of continued stall rest, and slowly, progressively increasing exercise over the next few months. I am currently using ACE for the 'fun' days and am considering adding reserpine, as our walking exercise is becoming more and more like the exhibitions from the Spanish Riding School .

    So...that is my story. What is yours?
    Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level, and then beat you with experience.

  • #2
    I've been there for over a year now!!! My horse pulled up lame in the middle of a flat work lesson, after 2 months of trying to figure out what was going on ( with him on stall rest) finally went for a MRI - deep flexor tendon lesion in the right - under the coffin bone. Did some more stall rest, had horse scare the cr@p out of some of the barn help as he tried to jump into the next stall ( 8 foot walls). They learned to give him hay before turnout of other horses or if something " exciting" was going on. Started hand walking everyday in December working up to 45 mintues. Many days of ACE to keep all hooves on the ground, 2 dislocated fingers.
    After stall rest, shockwave, etc I am finally starting him back under saddle ( still no turn out) We have been doing 15 mintues walks in the indoor when the barn is very quiet, no horses allowed in the ring with us and kids are to remain quiet ( they get quite loud at times).
    I'm waiting to hear the rehab plan from the vets.


    • Original Poster

      Wow Pooh, you have been through A LOT with him. So you just gave him ace daily as he needed it for exercise? Have you ever tried stuffing his ears? I am considering going that route with my boy...
      Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level, and then beat you with experience.


      • #4
        Oh yes, sign me up too. I'm actually on a renewal membership to this club. I do really enjoy reading these threads though. It helps to know you're not alone.

        My favorite mare had a suspensory tear nearly a year ago. I did all the rest/rehab and had 2 clean ultrasounds and the go-ahead to start full work and jumping again. Yay! or so I thought. Last Saturday she got kicked in the hock quite hard, and managed to get a slab fracture. I was devastated. After all that time and work (and emotions!) involved with her suspensory rehab, and finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and then BAM, right back to step one again.

        Fortunately, this time the vet has given her a 100% chance of full recovery and a return to full work (for the fracture anyway). So it is just a matter of time and more rest. However, once she is cleared to return to work again (from the fracture this time) I will have to leg her up again very slowly due to the previous suspensory tear, and I had just gotten done with that, so now I'll get to start all over again....

        At least we got to jump a couple times before the new injury, and that really restored our partnership together. It will give us strength to get thru another rehab so we can jump again! Tell you what though, this darn mare sure is lucky that she is so special to me... I don't think I'd go through all of this for just any old horse...


        • #5
          Excellent book: "Back to Work"

          I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is rehabbing a horse:
          "Back to Work" by Lucinda Dyer

          I really enjoyed reading it. It has info from vets about the various injuries/rehab programs, as well as several case studies with stories from people who have done been there, along with their individual rehab schedules/time frames. It really gave me hope, and it really helps to read about other people going through similar issues. Most of them have happy endings too, so that is inspiring. It is a GREAT book, and a must-read for anyone on this thread!


          • Original Poster

            MGF, I am so sorry. What a horrible accident. I know how frustrating it is when you feel like things are finally going well. I had just gotten my guy into full training with an amazing FEI dressage instructor when his issues started showing up. *sigh*...but they were there anyway, so it was just a matter of time for him.

            I know you must, at least, be happy/relieved that your mare will make a complete recovery. This has been weighing heavily in my mind for the last few months as well.
            Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level, and then beat you with experience.


            • #7
              My filly is home bred.. she was going to be the one.. .. just had 45 days put no her as she was just three.. .. she was ridden in two well known clinicians and both said she has the athleticism to go FEI.. I brought her home to rest and grow some more till she was 4 and hope for young horse championships.. All dreams are on hold.. she kicked thru my barn wall and completely severed her DDFT in a hind leg low just above the heel bulb.. emergency surgery / casting / splinting / beating off infection... we are approaching our 9 th month of complete stall rest and just up to 40 mins of hand walking.. ugh.. it has not been a walk in the park.. So many ups and downs with the cast / splints .. now the walking.. The surgeon gave her a 80% chance of recovery ... providing she behave... well she is high octane , a performance horse.. and she is just 4 years old at 17'3hhs tall.. BEHAVE?
              This is a roller coaster ride for sure.. I value reading everyone's stories and rehab programs .. misery loves company..



              • #8
                Odhinn's Mom, It does sound like your guy will make a full recovery eventually too, right? I sure hope so. The hardest part about rehab is when there is uncertainy whether the horse will ever be sound again. I know that is what I've struggled with the most on Mocha's suspensory rehab. All you can do is give them the best chance you can, and the rest is just *hoping* for the best.

                Pippin, it sounds like you have a good chance too at 80%. That is great! I had about 50/50 return to full work with the suspensory. We made it too! We're not out of the woods yet (or ever) though. Re-tearing the suspensory is soooo easy. It scares me everytime she takes a wrong step. She had an 'arguement' with the dentist and pulled a muscle in her shoulder, and I was convinced that she had retorn the suspensory. Clean ultrasound showed otherwise though, and I was soooo relieved. Then, of course, a week later she gets kicked.

                For those of you on rest with nutty horses, have you considered resting in a small turnout rather than a stall? It doesn't work well for all horses, but it was the best thing for Mocha. She was a NUT in her stall-- climbing the walls, kicking, cantering 12 ft. circles, pawing, etc. My vet suggested that I put her out with a quiet buddy in a small/flat/firm footing paddock and let her rest there. Sure enough, she was quiet as can be. I never once saw her tearing around out there, as she was out 24/7 so it was never like she just got outside and felt like kicking up her heels. She just slowly wandered around everywhere she wanted to go. It was great, because that way she handwalked herself too! I think it was great for her healing, as she was constantly using the ligament, so it helped it to heal in a functional pattern. Sort of like handwalking multiple times per day. Plus, with her, she was so distraught in the stall that I worried that she wouldn't heal well being that stressed anyway, even if I'd given her Ace. It is like people-- they heal better when they are mentally at ease and relaxed. I know it isn't an ideal solution for everyone, but maybe some of your horses would benefit from an approach like that? I know it was a lot easier on ME too!


                • Original Poster

                  MFG ~ I think we will have a full recovery, but not totally positive right now. There is so much scar tissue around his leg right now, that he is still quite short in his 'bad' leg. Hopefully, once the site cools down, and we can break apart some of the scar tissue, he will be much better. My vet feels he should be OK for lower-medium level dressage and hunters. He is only concerned that as he gets moved higher in the levels in dressage that he may have some gait consistency problems in smaller circles. So, we will do whatever he CAN do, and just leave it at that.

                  I agree with the turn-out outside. I actually have 2 'stalls' for my guy. The regular one inside, and a small stall (out of pipe fencing) outside, when everyone goes out. We usually keep him in for about 30 min. after everyone else goes outside (for them to settle down), and then he goes out. He does a little bit of bucking but he would do that in the stall too, and he can't get MOVING anywhere. The great part is that the top of the fence is hot, and he is *deathly* afraid of it, so it REALLY keeps him from being silly, as he stays several feet off of the fence.

                  We still aren't ABSOLUTELY positive that there isn't some suspensory damage, as there is some scar tissue around the area that blocks the suspensory on the ultrasound. But, I had a vet use a 'thermography' camera to look at the area on Monday. Have you seen those? That was WAAAY cool. It captures heat, so you can see the horse's legs (and body) and see very subtle changes in heat. Active/injured areas are hotter, because there are more chemical reactions going on to repair the area. The vet felt that the heat pattern on his leg wasn't consistent with a suspensory problem (coupled with ultrasound), but that the surgical area was still active.
                  Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level, and then beat you with experience.


                  • #10
                    MGF, Yes, we made a stall out in the middle of the pasture for my girl.. its 14X14 .. but I can only put her out when i have another person to lead in and out her baby sitter... If I bring her in first she pitches a fit , If i bring in the baby sitter first she pitches a fit... and as we all know the fits are what can do damage again... egg shells... yup i walk on them daily for her..
                    I have 4 horses, I have tried to mix it up so that she is not bonded to one horse... it makes no difference.. IF she sees me bring in a horse with out her she goes bonkers.. its her personality.. she would before the injury too.. run the fence line bucking and rearing... ''MY TURN MY TURN'' ...

                    I hope the surgeon was not being overly optimistic for us.. this is a completely severed DDFT.. I guess the good thing is all the other tendons/ ligaments are in tack.. But in month 3 we discovered thru ultrasound that she bowed the DDFT , same tendon just above the fetlock.. must have happened on impact of the kick... so the tendon is compromised in two places..

                    Well i need to go get my boots on.. its hand walking time..



                    • Original Poster

                      Pippin...just checking to see how your handwalking went today . It rained non-stop here (thank god!!) all morning, so I only got to groom...which was unfortunate, as he was having one of his rare, good days..lol. So,they all stayed up all day (as opposed to the outside stall), so I am sure tomorrow he will back in good graces.
                      Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level, and then beat you with experience.


                      • #12
                        I'll jump in (its the only jumping I'm doing these days!)

                        Thanks for the thread...I've been riding for 20 years and have grown up through pony club, eventing, polo in college, now back to eventing, and I'm dealing with my first ever ligament injury/rehab situation...it was probably bound to happen eventually. We're on day 12 of weeks/months of stall rest; of course it happened two weeks before our second event of the season...not easy to transition a fit horse used to daily work to a 12' x 12' stall. I agree with the others, our temporary "pasture stall" has been a saving grace. In some ways it seems the most challenging part of extended stall rest is keeping our horses feeling like horses as much as we can. Its hard to take away galloping, riding, turnout, grazing with buddies, rolling in the dust.

                        Thanks for the book recommendation too...I've really got time to read now


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by EventerAgain View Post
                          not easy to transition a fit horse used to daily work to a 12' x 12' stall.
                          That's for sure! My mare was quite fit at the time of her injury too, and she was not very pleasant to be around for a while. In fact, she would stand there and pout whenever I got another horse out to ride. I'd see her standing there watching me riding, giving me dirty looks, and when I'd get off the other horse she wouldn't look at me or let me touch her for hours afterwards. Quite an opinionated mare, that one...


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by OdhinnsMom View Post
                            Pippin...just checking to see how your handwalking went today . It rained non-stop here (thank god!!) all morning, so I only got to groom...which was unfortunate, as he was having one of his rare, good days..lol. So,they all stayed up all day (as opposed to the outside stall), so I am sure tomorrow he will back in good graces.
                            I actually gave her two days off,, Monday she had a bucking fit in a circle around me with the bad leg on the inside.. I try very hard to keep the bad leg on the outside of our turns so not to put as much pressure/ tork on it .. well Monday it did not work.. she canter two small 5 meter circles around me all the while i am seeing her weight that bad leg and jump off it each time.. They are so self destructive beasts.. ... Anyway two days of icing several times a day and bute rest.. I took her out yesterday with 4 cc's of ace and the hottest part of the day.. ugh.. only walked her 30 mins vs her 40+ she is suppose to have.... She had a hoof print over stride still and weighted it fine... So hopefully no harm done on her ''painful'' antics.. !
                            Today I will walk her 35 mins without ace to see how she is behaving.. if she starts our frisky right away , Ace will be used and will walk her later ...

                            Thanks for asking..

                            I too am going to get that book.. thanks for the heads up on it..



                            • #15
                              Just in from our 'walk'.. she only blew up one time.. no ace and we did our full 40 mins.. I am walking her on the end of a 10 ft. line, and kind of sending her out almost like a lunge but the entire arena..I am walking inline with her shoulder.. I have more control of keeping that bad leg on the outside when she decides to blow.. and well can almost catch the blow before it happens as she starts to gig or speed up.. It worked for today.. tomorrow will be a new day all together..



                              • #16
                                I declare myself a new member of the support group! We are going on five months of stall rest. My guy had surgery on April 2 and was on stall rest prior to surgery. He had a high rear suspensory avulsion (the suspensory pullled away from the bone)

                                We are currently walking for 30min. and trotting for 5-10 min. He is on reserpine, and I usually have to ace him to keep all four feet on the ground. At first I could ride him without ace, but now I usually have to give him something. I am hoping this means he is feeling better. I hate giving ace, but I also have to think about my family. I still have to be able to drive carpool!!At the end of each ride when I make it back to the barn safely, I am so thankful I have one more day under my belt.


                                • #17
                                  Oh Goody, a support group. . .

                                  We joined on Monday evening when my son's very fit, right in the middle of a series of international test matches, polocrosse mare got kicked. Non-disunited fracture of the distal radius - translation: hairline fracture of the bottom of the main bone that connects the elbow to the knee. Very good prognosis for full recovery and return to work with time and we are now on day three of the first month of stall rest. After that and radiographs at 2 and 4 weeks vet says he can give me a better idea of how much longer stall rest will continue.

                                  In the meantime, I have this pissed off Argentine TB ex-polo pony chestnut mare who is getting pretty irritated with me that I won't simply open her damn stall door and let her out, or let go of the lead rope when we go out for brief moments of hand grazing. No dancing, spinning or other shenanigans, she expresses her opinion with her dentition. It's also how we know she has her game face on, prior to a chukka, the more she tries to nip at you as you are getting her dressed, the better she plays. She bit me twice and my son once on Saturday just prior to their first match versus Australia on the Mall in Washington DC and played one hell of a game for him, so hopefully her body will "attack the crack" with the same vigor.

                                  I also have a very distraught young man, who adores this funny almost went to the killers mare and am a single parent for a little while longer. I am a bit worn thin at the moment. . .



                                  • Original Poster

                                    Pippin ~ I am glad to hear your walk was calm today...and I hear you that each day is totally different!!! My guy was a SAINT today, and totally caught me off guard when he gladly tromped through the puddles in the arena (since usually he is a total diva about water). In fact I was actually pushing him FORWARD much of the ride! But, tomorrow...who knows.

                                    I am actually going to get a lesson on Clicker training next week, and see if that will give him something productive to use his mind for!.

                                    Pegasusmom....I am very sad for that you had to join the club. What a horrible ordeal for everyone involved. I am sending you positive thoughts for a quick recovery, and am very happy to hear that she will make a full recovery. That is the most important thing!.
                                    Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level, and then beat you with experience.


                                    • #19
                                      My OTTB Jet has not been ridden since October 2006. He was running around in the paddock and stabbed himself with something, and got a splint. Got 30 days off then x-rayed it to see how it was. Turns out he actually had a hole in the bone, and vet said if we didn't do surgery he'd risk shattering his whole leg. Went to Myre Equine Clinic and had the surgery on the leg in January. Came home, and was home a few weeks and then coliced. Sent him up to tufts as a precaution. Thought he was ok, then got a call the next AM that he needed emergency surgery because the cecum was blocked. Had that surgery, stayed a week at tufts, then came home. Hand walked for 1 month, Small Paddock 2 Months, Regular paddock 1 month. Started him back on the lunge w/side reins. Galloped around out in the paddock and hit it again. Had to wait until just this week to start the lungeing process over so I can try to get on him. Hoping that I'll finally get back on within the next week or two. Should be quite an interesting ride after all this time, have my ACE handy!


                                      • #20
                                        have you tried Hilton Herbs calming formula? it has valerian in it and it is called something like Rest Easy....Emerald valley equine might have a calmer too...herbal liquid with valerian....those were things I was skeptical of and wasing using ACE instead of because I didnt trust them., ran out of ace one day adn WOW this stuff definately did the daily calm er' down effect, did not use ace again for rehab.