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Tell me your success stories...bowed tendons!

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    Tell me your success stories...bowed tendons!

    I just purchased on OTTB who is absolutely lovely. He does have an old bow in the left front SDFT but even with the big ugly question mark, I feel drawn to him and ready to do right by his battle scar! So...anyone have any success stories from their OTTB’s or others who have come back into successful careers?

    It is what it is at thus point. An ultrasound is wise to give you a baseline to gauge his healing.
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      I agree with Laurierace, if he vets sound, get a baseline sonogram. If that leg is solid and cold before work and after, why not?

      Sold a wonderful OTTB that had a near side old cold bow that took two local kids to a Pony Cub A. My first real show hunter had an old bow and I was a dumb kid and put a million kid miles on him. He held up. I would not pass one up. It he vets out...


        I third what's been said above.

        My OTTB mare had an old, cold bow when I bought her, and showed at the 1.40m+ level with me for 7 years. She jumped her last USEF grand prix at the age of 20 and retired sound. The bow was never an issue in the entire time that I knew her.


          Original Poster

          His basic PPE was near perfect, a repeat US showed the proximal portion of the tendon has very well aligned fibers and the distal portion has heterogenous fiber pattern but he is currently sound. According to the vet, the exterior appearance has actually gone down but she did remain conservative with career prognosis in her report.


            My old TB stallion had quite a significant bow on his offside fore. He was training 3rd level dressage before I lost him to colic.

            Depending on the actual injury and rehab done, most horses go onto having quite good careers afterwards.
            Not my circus, not my monkeys!


              My experience is good with old bows but I put a clay poultice on overnight after a hard workout as a preventative measure. Clay poultice helps me with a chronic tendon injury so I’m confident that it works on them too.


                Originally posted by the_eventing_RN View Post
                His basic PPE was near perfect, a repeat US showed the proximal portion of the tendon has very well aligned fibers and the distal portion has heterogenous fiber pattern but he is currently sound. According to the vet, the exterior appearance has actually gone down but she did remain conservative with career prognosis in her report.
                When I sold the OTTB to the pony clubbers Auburn University did the PPE and used the same word "conservative" in the written report. The vet actually told the Mom to get " really familiar with that leg, warm up well, cool off well, clay poultice at the first sign of heat, get no bows and stall bandage after a hard day and leg him up trotting on hard flat surfaces like the Brits do" . Exact words...They came in handy for me as well. Hope it helps!


                  Have had several, over a number of decades, including from before US was available to assess. Hunters and jumpers, no problem. If the prospect is being purchased as a high level three day event potential, then I would worry. One of them was my own when he bowed in race training (the rest of them I bought as bowed horses). His bow was big, and it was scary. But with the previous experience I had, I was game to rehab him, and repurpose him as a jumping prospect. My vet at the time was concerned, but was on board and watched the progress. We never did bother to US this one, I already owned him and it was pretty obvious that it was bad. He had a year off work living in a paddock, after a month in the stall with a cast etc. As I started to ride him again, my vet remarked that "we should get a grant to study the use of jumping training as a preferred treatment for bows". Which was kind of a joke of course, but the more he did, the better it got. The vet postulated (again partially as a joke) that perhaps the sudden shock of landing from jumps somehow realigned those tendon fibers... because they just got more normal looking with time, and work, and jumping. Concussion and exercise are key to recovery from tendon injuries. I jumped this horse over some pretty big stuff, he was quite stunning. But had trouble selling him (surprise!!!) because he was a bit tough to ride, and had the bow. So I sent him to a friend, who showed him for a year at the 3'9" to 4' jumper divisions, then sold him. The purchaser found me several years later, and reported that the horse was a star for her as a medal horse.

                  Buying a horse off the track with a fresh bow is an injury that I like to buy (or take home for free). Because I feel that it is an injury that A) will heal and be sound as a h/j prospect, and B) is a legitimate end to a racing career for a basically sound and talented horse. I don't like to buy a horse who has no palpable "excuse" to no longer be a racehorse- those unknown and undiagnosable problems that result in a horse being sold off the track for being "slow". A slight bow at the track is like being "a little bit pregnant"... it's going to get worse (usually), and many race owners and trainers can not afford to give the horse the time to heal, in the hopes of it staying sound racing later, because often it won't stay sound for racing. As a race horse, that ankle will touch the ground under the strain of full speed with every stride. But as a jumping horse, that ankle will only touch the ground landing off each jump when the jumps are 4' +, so only a dozen times or so in a round. Much easier on the horse, even at the higher levels of competition. Three day eventing, especially at a high level, is closer to racing in terms of stress on a tendon, more likely to rebow an injured tendon.

                  When you are working with a horse who has an old bow, you want to run your hand over that old bow each day during your pre ride grooming session, and get to know it intimately. Good chance that it will never change from what it is when it is cool, other than get tighter and smaller with time.

                  Read Tom Ivors (Ivers?) The Bowed Tendon Book. It's an older book now, but still interesting reading. Those who lock horses into stalls for extensive amounts of time with bowed tendons are doing the horse no favours in terms of healing. Exercise is key to healing, exercise drives healing, not extensive coddling. The healing tendon must experience stress to know how much healing it has to undergo to become strong enough. Don't do this for the horse, and he will complete healing without a strong tendon. It is a delicate balance to know how much stress to put on the healing tendon, a trainer must take chances with this, because to not do it will mean failure. Bandaging for "support" after healing is completely useless, or can be damaging. There is no way to make sure that the horse will not re injure the tendon, other than making the damaged tendon as strong as possible with exercise. Stuff that you buy at the tack store and lather onto the leg do nothing for the tendon. Bandaging does nothing but compress any swelling that may occur should the tendon heat up again, thus you don't see it, when it is EXACTLY what you are looking for every day when you run your hands over that tendon. Don't blindfold yourself thinking that you are doing the horse a favour.


                    Had one that came with a cold SDFT bow OTT. Competed up to 3'6" hunters/eq. Galloped on some trails and playing all those stupid games you play as a kid . He wasn't always the soundest, but he had sensitive feet and likely some arthritis somewhere in hindsight. The bow was never a problem. Treated his legs at a show just like I would any horse.

                    Had a horse with a high DDFT pasture injury that also healed uneventfully. That horse had a plethora of other problems that limited him, but I treated the tendon injury appropriately after catching it quickly (it looked like a SDFT bow initially because of some subcutaneous swelling from whatever he did in the field), and it healed great. I don't worry too much about stuff above the fetlock (tendons that is, not including suspensory issues in this statement). I'd be a little more cautious in/below the fetlock especially in a jumping horse.


                      My first horse had a bowed tendon due to my galloping him up big hills ( I was a kid). It was a high bow and not too bad. After 6 weeks of layup we started back to work and he never had a problem with it again. I rode him 6 days a week and he was ridden long and hard every time.


                        I bought an OTTB who had just been rehabbed for a bow, had down time, then lightly restarted. This horse never had a lame day with me and could jump the moon. My course work was only around 3'3", but we'd school higher at times. If the vet is okay with it, a bow wouldn't stop me from buying an otherwise nice horse.
                        My hopeful road to the 2021 RRP TB Makeover:


                          My first horse had a moderate, high bow. It was properly rehabbed and cold when I bought him. Never had a single problem with it. We did 3'-3'6" h/j and field hunted occasionally. Of all the track injuries out there, bows worry me the least. Definitely do a PPE, but I wouldn't see the bow as a deterrent if everything else checks out.


                            I was given an OTTB who bowed badly on the track and wasn’t competitive enough to rehab. His owner turned him out for 6 months before I got him, and although it was incredibly ugly it never gave him a minute’s pain. And he evented, show jumped, and hacked out.

                            It did did shrink down over the years.
                            "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." —Bradley Trevor Greive