Let's talk lameness - suspensory - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 04-09-2012, 11:39 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Texas
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Let's talk lameness - suspensory

My gelding came up lame from the pasture about a month ago. He's a 7 yr old QH and has never had any major health issues. He is new to me as I bought him in January but he has been great ever since until mid-march. It never seemed serious like maybe he tweaked something playing in the field and it would go away...well, didn't get that lucky. Thought it may be an abcess and it isn't, or maybe a stone bruise, but he hasn't shown any tenderness on the bottom of his feet. My farrier came out to trim/shod for the first time since I've had him (after he was lame) and he said he has excellent feet. He has front shoes only.

We could tell it was his left front. It is not noticeable at a walk and he bears all weight on it just fine. Vet came out and did some blocks. He was slightly tender on his heels on that foot but blocking did nothing. Didn't see anything else until she checked suspensory and he flinched. She said if that's what it was it was low which is usually seen when they get it from the pasture.

I sweated and wrapped the leg for 5 days and he has been in a stall 24/7 for 2 weeks. After the first 5 days I've just been keeping it dry wrapped. Took him out today to see him trot a little to see where we were and it looked like he was noticeably better. I found myself looking for it more than before, but there was still head bobbing on the left front. When he was being all forward and prancy at first I couldn't really tell at all but his head was also high and more tense.

Tried to stay away from ultra sounds and expensive stuff first to see if we could pin point the problem. It definitely seems like this could be it since there was visual improvement. Vet didn't seem 100% sure though. I was sure it had to be a stone bruise because there are some rocks in his pasture and he plays a lot. Wouldn't he be tender on his hoof if that were the case though? I know both injuries can take up to weeks to heal and I know suspensory injuries especially can take months. He has never been super lame on it though, has always beared weight on it, and always willing to go forward. He doesnt look or act like a lame horse until he trots. So how does a minor suspensory injury like this pan out? How much longer do you think based on what you know and personal experience? Plans are to event this horse low level. I would be heartbroken if he couldn't :(
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post #2 of 4 Old 04-09-2012, 11:48 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
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You just have to be very, very patient and resist the urge to "see how he looks". The horse should be on stall rest, and wrapped. Back on Track wraps might be a good thing to invest in as they have sped up injury healing time for people and horses I know. You can also do IR laser therapy and therapeutic ultra-sound to help speed healing.

Other than that it is basically walking in straight lines with no sharp turns, and especially no lunging. Do not lunge this horse ever again if at all possible, and especially not within a year from now or when he is unfit.

Depending on what the vet says (and ultrasounds are usually the best way to tell when the injury is healing) I would start hand walking in straight lines for 10 minutes twice a day after another 2-4 weeks of stall rest on soft ground (ie not concrete, but not deep footing, grass or something would be good as long as it isn't slippery). Then gradually increase the time and when it is pretty much healed, start walking on hard surfaces to strengthen the suspensory and start trotting in hand as well. Then change to undersaddle and avoid deep footing, small circles and lateral movement.

If you've caught the injury early there is a high chance of it healing well and never giving you grief again, but you have to be very patient and diligent and give it time to heal and strengthen. Condition the horse back into work properly and don't lunge.

Good luck!
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post #3 of 4 Old 04-10-2012, 02:43 AM
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Suspensory injuries are not something to be complacent about. I would strongly suggest you get an ultrasound to see exactly what you're dealing with. If you push the horse and it only has a minor tear or strain to the suspensory, you can very easily turn it into a major tear.
My thoroughbred did his suspensory in the paddock, but tore it. He was on box rest for 2 weeks with his leg support bandaged, poulticed, cold hosed etc. He then managed to bow a tendon in the same leg, and ended up being put to sleep.

I would be first getting an ultrasound, and going from there. If only a strain, treatment won't be expensive. Its just box rest for around 6 weeks, and then rehab in the manner anebel described above. It is best to er on the side of caution, because the horse starts looking soundish, don't go out and decide to try a trot under saddle, you'll set the healing back by months and the damage can end up being permanent due to scar tissue weakening the ligament.

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post #4 of 4 Old 04-10-2012, 05:52 AM
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My old pony did a suspensory, he was barely lame at all and within 2 day was completely sound except for a large swelling. I had him ultra sounded and he had a massive tear in his suspensory and a hole in his check ligament as well.

Pony spent 6 months on box rest with his leg being iced 4 times a day minimum. Then he spent an year in the field with the old ponies. Then it took me 6 months to very very slowly and very very carefully bring him back into work. The horse was never lunged again in his life nor was he jumped and I was also very very careful about not letting him go on any deep footing or slippy footing! We did lots and lots of road work to strengthen his tendons!
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