Advice reguarding Suspensory LIgament Injuries - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 29 Old 04-24-2013, 05:52 PM Thread Starter
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Advice reguarding Suspensory LIgament Injuries

Today Started out just like most other days. I went to the barn and Cinny was perfectly fine, but a little upset that they hadn't turned out today (turnouts are swampy). I had the vet coming at 2 to do a teeth float so I turned Cinny out in the indoor arena while I did some barn chores so that he could get his vinegar out. When I came back he was dead lame!

I hobbled him over to the cross ties where I checked for the obvious, stones and stone bruises, NOTHING. Except that he could barely stand on his left leg for me to examine the right. I couldn't find any painful hoof spots, and no heat in his leg anywhere. So I put him back in his stall and waited for the vet.

After a bit of probing, walking him (he barely hobbles), etc etc she found the spot...Suspensory Ligament :( We are waiting for a second opinion from my usual vet (she is a new colleague in his office but primarily does only vaccination clinics, chiro and the such). I am simply crushed.

I"m basically searching to see what kind of luck people have in treating this injury? About how long does it take? Worse case scenario, best scenario, etc. What things have helped, what things NOT to do. The collegue today didn't really say much except to put him into his stall into Doc Pat talks to me so I'm a little freaked out. A lady at our stable told me that he will most likely never be sound again and at best would most likely be a light trail/play pet sort of horse even if he is rideable again. She told me I could pretty much kiss Dressage goodbye where it comes to Cinny.

I am so confused that I don't know where to start. I don't know what wraps to use, I don't know if he should at least be brought out int the sun and groomed or what? I guess I'm just a little distraught right now.
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post #2 of 29 Old 04-24-2013, 06:20 PM
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See what your regular vet says.

This is all secondhand. I have never dealt with this myself (knock on wood) but have friends and fellow liveries who have done. So in my secondhand experience, suspensory injuries are generally diagnosed with an ultrasound, not someone just prodding at a leg on a lame horse. Unfortunately, they seem to entail lots of box rest, six months, and not great prospects for the horse coming back to work as sound as it was before the injury. The ones I know went on to be therapy horses, happy hackers, or field companions. So probably not what you want to hear. I don't know of any who resumed their careers as dressage horses, eventers, or jumpers. But get your regular vet to give you a definitive diagnosis before you panic.

Hope it's not that.
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post #3 of 29 Old 04-24-2013, 06:35 PM
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All my experiences are secondhand as well and were not good. Both horses were not shown again, one was euth'ed as he was totally unrideable, the other could be ridden lightly and she did have a foal after the injury with no problems. Lets hope it's something else that is simple.
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post #4 of 29 Old 04-24-2013, 06:48 PM
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I'm so sorry! :( I hope that he does not have a suspensory injury but if he does, heres to hoping he heals well!

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post #5 of 29 Old 04-24-2013, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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My trainer just called. She is going to go to the stable with me tonight and show me some wrapping techniques that helped her mare. Apparently her mare has 100% recovered from a suspensory ligament injury and is doing upper levels of Dressage with no problems and she is looking at taking her grand prix. So I guess there is some hope if we care for him diligently. She is going to show me what she did in hopes that we can get a good recovery with him. She said the key is to have him move as little as possible for as long as possible.

I'm still not sure where to put my hopes and I am dreading the vet bill when this is all done. Most of all, I hate seeing Cinny hurting so much. He did get something for the pain today but I know I can't have him on bute for any length of time because of his ulcer issues. I feel like my horse is just crumbling apart!
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post #6 of 29 Old 04-24-2013, 06:58 PM
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Wow...what a bummer. That being said, all is not lost. A woman at my barn just went through this last year about this time. I think the tear was assessed at 60%. It was stall rest for 3 months, and then an extremely slow rehab plan of hand walking for another 3 months. She was in the saddle riding at the walk at 6 months. Fast forward to today, which is right about the one year mark, horse is going to do a cross country derby this weekend. COMPLETE return to work.

My other friends horse tore a high suspensory very recently, a 20% tear. Horse is already being hand walked. She was like Cinny, 3 legged lame.

For starters, make sure it really is a suspensory injury. They can be mistaken for DDFT injuries. I think they do an MRI of sorts to determine where and how bad the tear is. If your horse is good at being stalled, that's half the battle since this involves lots of stall rest. If Cinny doesn't handle being stalled well, start buying him toys or other things to keep him occupied. Some horses do well in a very small outside pen when they cannot move around much but still see their buddies.

Once you are cleared to start riding again, avoid circles or any repetitive at all costs. You don't want any re-injury.

Feel free to megadose with natural sources of vitamin E. It can help the body heal itself.

Lastly, make sure Cinny's feet are trimmed correctly. Many time suspensory injuries result from high heels/ long toes which result in a continuous pull on the crucial leg ligaments.

Good luck. Hopefully Cinny's tear is on the lesser side.

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post #7 of 29 Old 04-24-2013, 07:12 PM
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Follow your vet's directions to a T. No turnout means no turnout; stall rest means completely and if he gets silly, a light sedative might be the answer. Hand walking is just that.

Get an ultrasound. If your vet thinks that it's not needed, insist or get a new vet. You want to know everything you can about the injury ASAP, and the *only* way to know the extent of the damage is to U/S.
Most suspensory injuries heal up just fine. Some unfortunately do not. Sadly, the likelihood is that it will always be a weak spot that's prone to re-injury.

Don't go into this thinking "woe is me, he will never be sound again" as most do heal up just fine. It can take a long time, and diligence is key to make sure that the tissue is fully healed before you allow him to go back to work. Relieving strain on the ligament with correct hoof angles can really help; sometimes a farrier and vet combo will suggest wedge pads and a shoe to bring as much stress as possible off the ligament.

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post #8 of 29 Old 04-24-2013, 07:16 PM Thread Starter
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I know last year when he was on stall rest for a month he did relatively ok. My only worry about him now is that he had a new neighbor move in about a month ago who is a total dingaling in his stall. He rears, he kicks the stall sides, he nashes his teeth, and sadly gets Cinny and the once quiet draft mare on the other side riled into a tizzy as well. this would not bode well for any injury I think. I've contacted the barn manager to see what could be done and trying to do it in the nicest way as I really like this horse's owner, she is the sweetest, most awesome barn neighbor a person could have. Sadly her horse only respects HER.

I started another thread with ideas for adjusting Cinny's feed, which I finally got right, to prevent him from getting fat or having too much pent up energy in hopes that will help for the long run. Adjusting rations for stall rest
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post #9 of 29 Old 04-24-2013, 07:48 PM
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There was a member here named Zimpatico whose horse went through this. She did some new, alternative treatments that radically sped up recovery, and it was even documented in Equus magazine. I don't know her real name, but you could try sending a PM to Zimpatico. She's a very nice member, though she hasn't been on in while.
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post #10 of 29 Old 04-24-2013, 08:24 PM
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Are the horse's ankles still upright? compare the front ankles to the back. If both back ankles are starting to drop than you have degenerative ligaments. The ankle can drop before the legs start swelling. Or the swelling can come first.

Ligament injuries usually get better with rest. Degenerative ligaments do not and walking/movement should be encouraged (after the initial injury is given time to heal). Degenerative ligaments are also easily misdiagnosed.

This is advanced/severe degenerative ligaments. The hind legs becomes straighter as the horses conformation changes. This is considered rare, but I've seen lots of cases in this area. It probably isn't this unless both hind legs are affected, but one hind will usually show signs first.
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