HELP! My horse has a severed tendon!

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HELP! My horse has a severed tendon!

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    06-16-2011, 12:14 AM
HELP! My horse has a severed tendon!

My seven year old quarter horse recently got her foot tangled in the barbed wire fence. The vet has already come out and has given me medication and bandages for her. I was wondering if he should have stitched it back or if it is possibe to have it stitched back at this point? I was also wondering if a horse could soundly heal from a severed tendon if it wasn't totally cut in half. Please do not write me back with rude or offensive comments. It is already a difficult enough situituation without hateful comments.
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    06-16-2011, 12:23 AM
Natalie, I'm so sorry for this accident and what you're going through. You should ask your vet all the questions about stitching but my guess is that he would have offered that if it was appropriate. It sounds like it's a partially severed tendon, not completely cut in half. It all depends on the healing process. I have a horse with a nicked tendon who is now perfectly sound with a blemish, 2 years post trauma, but it was a smaller wound than yours. There was an article in EQUUS (I think) a few months back when there was a total severed tendon and it grew back together - pretty remarkable story. You're in for a long haul and proper bandaging, controlling infection, not reinjuring the soft tissue around the tendon, and stall rest will do a lot to promote a good rehab. I've also heard of corrective shoeing to raise the heel or lower the heel while the tendon heals; it sometimes helps to take the strain/stretch off the tendon while it's growing back. There is also now very compelling research for using expensive stem cell injections to promote tendons to heal themselves; it's pricey and not available everywhere but has shown to raise the odds of recovery for some injuries.

Best of luck, keep us posted - Mother Nature is pretty impressive so don't get too discouraged yet!
    06-16-2011, 12:26 AM
The vet will advise you about stitching. Sometimes it's in a location that makes stitching impossible. Also, if the wound is more than half a day old (I think?) then it can't be stitched.
How much of the tendon is severed?
    06-16-2011, 12:35 AM
Super Moderator
What tendon is hurt?

Is it completely several or just partially severed?

If it is an extensor tendon (like the ones on the front of the pastern or canon) that make the foot extend, the horse has a good chance of healing and being rideable.

If it is a supporting tendon (like the ones on the back of the canon or pastern or hoof) and have to carry all of the horse's weight, I am afraid they seldom become sound enough for riding and frequently are put down.

The horse needs stall rest, and a leg wrap the incorporates and bent piece of strap iron that helps the leg maintain its proper position. If the extensor tendon is severed on the front of a leg, the bent piece of strap iron will keep the horse from having the leg turn under it until the tendon heals enough to bring the leg forward and keep it in the proper position. If the leg is allowed to turn under, the horse will not put any weight on it, the flexor tendons will contract and the horse will never be able to use it. The opposite leg usually 'breaks down' and the horse will have to be put down.

I have healed up several horses with completely severed tendons that the Vets wanted to put down. One with a completely severed extensor tendon (severed mid-canon on a lind leg) recovered and later became a show jumper that won many championships. I spent 4 months keeping him bandaged and clean with a piece of strap iron incorporated in the wrap. He was stalled the entire time. I did not know for 4 months if it had healed or not because I never let him take a single step without the bandage there the kept his foot from folding up underneath him.

It does not help usually to try to stitch them back together. The sutures fail and there is just more damage and scar tissue.

I hope this helps. I hope it is an extensor tendon. Good luck with it.
    06-16-2011, 12:43 AM
Well, I am guessing that it might be her exterior tendon because she is putting weight on it but she cannot move backwards or it will roll under her. She doesn't really act like it hurts that badly when she walks but that might be because she's tough?
    06-16-2011, 12:46 AM
P.S. Thank you so much for your comment I was freaking out. You never want to see something that you love in pain but at least there is a chance for recovery if it's her exterior tendon.
    06-16-2011, 12:49 AM
It is only partially severed.
    06-16-2011, 01:02 AM
Super Moderator
You absolutely have to put on a wrap that stabilizes the foot and does not let it fold up underneath her. Like I said, I have healed several now and the first one was the worst -- until I figured out to incorporate a piece of strap iron into the wrap. I would wrap the wound, place the strap iron on the front of the leg joint that wanted to fold up, and wrap it some more.

Be sure to keep her on antibiotics so the tendon sheath does not get infected. Once you have proud flesh to cover up and fill in the wound, you do not have to worry about infection.

I hope you are ready for a long recovery. The ones I have doctered have required 3 to 4 months of wrapping. I was still helping to stabilize the joint long after the cut was healed. If you don't keep it stabilized long enough, the tendon will pull apart and never function right.

Do not give her Bute. She will try to use it too much and Bute (and other anti-inflamatories) slow healing.
    12-14-2011, 07:27 AM
HI I am going through the exact sam einjury but completely severed extensor tendon in hind leg along with a horrific open wound exposing bare bone. We are in our 6th week and also have braced the bottom of the leg with strap iron to stop the hoof knuckling under. However we are now fighting a secondary problem of pressure sores where the splint is sitting, Any suggestions from anybody?? Good Luck with your injury- How are things going now?? I realise that this thread is 90 days +
    12-14-2011, 11:04 AM
Super Moderator
Where are you putting the splint? We have always put on a good wrap -- then incorporated the strap iron splint and wrapped it some more.

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