Ligament injury & arthritis, what are our options??
 
 

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Ligament injury & arthritis, what are our options??

This is a discussion on Ligament injury & arthritis, what are our options?? within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Arthritis an ligament tear
  • Arthirits and ligament damage in horse

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  • 1 Post By Horseman56

 
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    06-21-2012, 11:45 PM
  #1
Foal
Lightbulb Ligament injury & arthritis, what are our options??

Hi All-
I work for a company that has started a theraputic riding program for teens. We have a horse that while at a slow walk with lead rope attached and a young rider in saddle, fell. She went down slow but did fall all the way down and then onto the rider. Luckily rider was not hurt. Though right after she favored her leg and would not put a whole lot of weight on it. (from my angle it looked like she may have favored leg before she fell but not certain).
Vet was called out the following day. We were told that most likely she had a suspensory ligament injury (most likely a tear). Due to the amount of swelling the vet also thought tendon damage was possible. She said she should be left in a stall and iced for 15 min increments several times a day. Also prescribed butte for pain. Said full diagnosis could not be made without an ultrasound (which this vet doesn't have, we would have to get another and the expense was more than we were willing to do at this point). Vet was not very thorough we thought and so elected for a second opinion.
We had a person with many many years horse experience come look at her. We were told by this person that a suspensory ligament was suspected but also said that it appears she has arthritis in both knees and also back right ankle.
This horse is a mare, 14 years old standardbred. She was a harness racing horse at one time but I know little of her history.
She does appear cranky at times as well.
The program requires light riding, but we plan to be able to use horse to gallop and possible barrell race etc.
My questions are:
1. Knowing that the horse fell only at a walk and that these supposed injuries usually do not heal 100% can she ever be considered safe for youth to ride ? Being a company safety is very important to us.

2. If there is arthritis this usually progresses and since she now has a ligament injury on top of this, can we expect a good prognosis?


3. If she is not going to be safe to ride, can we conisder her for breeding?

4. Is the best option a new home where she can be a pasture pet the best option for the horse?

Sorry I know this is long. I am not a super experienced horse person, I am looking for further answers. We want the best outcome for the program and the horse. Please don't judge.
Thanks!
     
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    06-22-2012, 12:59 AM
  #2
Weanling
[quote=wickedeyeswonder;1560169]Hi All-


Quote:
1. Knowing that the horse fell only at a walk and that these supposed injuries usually do not heal 100% can she ever be considered safe for youth to ride ? Being a company safety is very important to us.
One cannot well answer this question without definitive diagnostics of the problem(s). Discomfort due serious pathology seems likely given your description and was certainly a probable cause for the fall. That alone suggests the horse isn't sound for riding, therefore isn't safe.

Quote:
2. If there is arthritis this usually progresses and since she now has a ligament injury on top of this, can we expect a good prognosis?
Again, without a definitive diagnostic, it is very difficult to provide any kind of prognosis. Arthritis is progressive and doesn't get better. An injury to the proximal suspensory ligament can be serious but many horses do recover. The question becomes, to what level of performance?

Quote:
3. If she is not going to be safe to ride, can we conisder her for breeding?
It would be unfortunate to ask a horse presenting significant discomfort due arthritis and/or ligament damage to carry the additional weight of an unborn foal. Moreover, with so many well bred, pathology free horses available on the market, why would an organization unable to afford quality diagnostics contemplate the expense of raising a foal?

Quote:
4. Is the best option a new home where she can be a pasture pet the best option for the horse?
The best option for the horse would be diagnostics that support a remedial protocol of assistance. If that option is beyond budgetary constraints, then yes, finding someone willing to better address the animals needs makes sense. The trouble is in finding someone willing to assume that cost and responsibility.

Quote:
Sorry I know this is long. I am not a super experienced horse person, I am looking for further answers. We want the best outcome for the program and the horse. Please don't judge.
Thanks!
Regardless the well meaning intent, it's not clear to me that a program unable or unwilling to bear the responsible cost of equine ownership and management, including associated veterinary/farriery care, should be in the business of horses.

Sadly, it may be that the best outcome for the program and that of the horse are incompatible. That is not a judgement; it's a reasonable assessment of the situation as you've provided it.

Cheers,
Mark
     
    06-22-2012, 01:08 AM
  #3
Foal
We have paid vet care and will continue to do so. However being that we need to care for not just the horse but the safety of the children it is important to make informed decisions. If we cannot safely use the horse we can't continue to pour funds that we would use elsewhere. When the horse may have a better life retired.
     
    06-22-2012, 08:16 AM
  #4
Trained
1. Depends on what her problems actually are and how they're managed. She needs a true diagnosis. I can tell you now that galloping and barrel racing are probably out.
2. Without a solid diagnosis and treatment plan, who knows.
3. Definitely not. The facility is probably not set up to handle a pregnant mare or a foal and if an ultrasound is too expensive then how can they afford all the costs associated with breeding? How will they afford training? Bad idea all around. There's plenty of full grown, broke horses for free.
4. Again it comes to diagnostics. We don't know what's really going on with her.
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    06-22-2012, 10:43 AM
  #5
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by wickedeyeswonder    
We have paid vet care and will continue to do so. However being that we need to care for not just the horse but the safety of the children it is important to make informed decisions. If we cannot safely use the horse we can't continue to pour funds that we would use elsewhere. When the horse may have a better life retired.
A lame horse is never a safe riding option for kids so the question of suitability for intended use is currently no.

At issue is whether the horse is worth an investment in vet/farrier care to address any soundness/safety issues with a goal of future use. There is simply no easy answer to that without definitive diagnostics. Even if the horse appears to improve with no treatment beyond stall rest, you'll never know when or if the problem will return once the weight of a rider is added to the equation.

If radiograph/ultrasound/scintigraphy diagnostics are out of budget then treatment probably is too. This seriously brings the whole issue of responsible ownership into question.

Regardless the altruistic intent of the program, it appears to be a poor place for an injured horse to find itself. Horses can be hugely expensive and as such, are not for everyone.

Just to make the point, the largest number of horses I routinely see in need of rescue are..... horses in equine 'rescue' facilities. While utterly altruistic in intent, most of these 'rescues' operate on a shoestring and simply cannot afford to provide the complete care that a horse may need.

Here's a good 'rule of thumb' for owning a horse. If you can't afford to set aside at least $5,000 in emergency funds for each horse (that's above annual maintenance costs), you probably can't afford to own a horse.

It's a fine thing to suggest that we'll just 'retire' a lame horse. The reality is, it's nearly impossible to find such retirement homes. Few people are willing or financially able to accept the costs associated with a therapeutic animal they cannot use. The kill pens are full of such horses.

If your program is company funded, perhaps it is time to sit down with the company owners and have a frank discussion about the real costs involved in operating such a program.

Cheers,
Mark
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