My vet says that leg injuries can take a very long time to heal. We have her separated from the others most of the time. Especially at feeding time because they do pick on her. I think she is making progress, it is just so slow. The vet says he does not feel there is any damage done to bone. That the pain she experiences is from trauma to her muscle. I call him with reports and he says that everything seems to be going normally. I just get really discouraged when she seems to be fine, and then in the morning she is hobbling around some days...the vet reassures me that it is all normal. Thats why I was wondering about others experiences. I guess we just sit and wait I have never dealt with a leg injury that totally turned the horse three legged before. Her chest muscle on the right side actually doubled in size from her doing so much more work on that leg to compensate for the bad leg. This whole ordeal made her lose weight too...I don't feel making her tough it out without the bute will do much good, if I were in pain I would want some relief too. He said she can stay on that for a very long time without any ill effects from it.
Hi herdbound - Ugh, I know how you're feeling. Up one day and down the next no doubt. Hang in there as time is truly your friend! Below is my experience with a leg injury.
My horse was injured this past April...within 24 hours of buying him.
Suffered a 6 inch diagonal laceration to his left hind dorsal canon. The injury was clean through his extensor tendons to the bone. Vet sutured him beautifully and then a couple days later, the sutures busted completely open from him knuckling forward on that ankle. Left a horrible looking mangled mess/mound of tissue to heal. He was on a prophylactic antibiotic and bute for just two weeks.
My horse was on complete stall rest for months, lost about 100#'s maybe more, and experienced tremendous muscle atrophy!! During that time, I changed the dressing every other day. Vet came out regularly for various issues and trimmed twice for moderate amts of proud flesh.
The wound is still not completely closed but has contracted down very nicely. Open area is about the size of a quarter now-oblong in shape. Truly healing from the inside out. I clean with diluted betadine solution, rinse with normal saline sometimes and slap some Nolvasan ointment on a sterile 4x4 and apply to the wound. I change up every so often and just apply triple antibiotic ointment for example after cleansing, cover with a 4x4, and supportive bandage. The most important part of his wound care is the application of the supportive bandage. Vet wants the supportive wrap on the leg esp ankle area until the wound is completely closed (wrap has delayed wound healing considerably). Supportive wrap is a thinner 'no bow' bandage and vet wrap. I can launder the no bows and I buy vet wrap from a catalog @ a buck a piece.
After going crazy on stall rest for all that time, he finally started handwalking. First *walky* was fine. Then for the next two weeks he was possessed!
Scary stuff. I pulled a tendon in my right shoulder from him (out of nowhere) rearing straight up on me once..shoulder still bothers me. First month we just walked...increasing distance and intensity. Then turn out in a round pen. Now..he's on full pasture turn out with non aggressive buddies. Not limping at all..seems very strong on that leg..very occasional lag noticed. Much improved from only a month ago. Vet says the brain has to reprogram that left hind. Scar tissue has taken the place of tendons. Vet wants him to take the fall/winter off and feels he'll be good to go next spring for retraining of everything he knew before the injury. Vet says to start slow and w/t in hand on level, then hills, then in saddle, then lunging, etc. She wants a VERY gradual progression and return to normal activity. So, a whole year from injury to return to normal activity.
As you can see, my vet took a very, very conservative approach to his care. I'm glad though, cause I'm beginning to think we gave him his very best shot at a decent recovery. He will never be what he was or 100%. Best to hope for is about 80-90%. This whole ordeal has sucked though. Mostly for the horse it has sucked but for me and my family, too. It's been expensive in more ways than just financial. This kind of thing takes an emotional toll on a person. But you know what? I bonded with that **** horse from day one. He nickers for me when I drive up. I get out of the car and he runs over to greet me. What a feeling! And I don't always have carrots in my pocket.