I’ve had a 7 yr old OTTB for 5 months now. He has a cold splint in the front right but other than a somewhat “normal” stone bruise episode shortly after I got him home (that new horse owner curse kicking in :), he has been fine.
I was working, and will continue to work him, in dressage and trained him from basic Intro level to Training Level in just 14 weeks time; we've had 4 shows together. 5 weeks ago he just wasn’t “right” and was showing the identical symptoms to another stone bruise or possible abscess with one difference; the digital pulse was normal (not pounding). He was moving short stepped in front and was so mildly off people could barely decide if he was even off at all. There has been no swelling or heat in the leg at all.
I have not ridden him since the day he didn’t feel right..that was 5 weeks ago today. I had the vet come out a few days after and even he was proverbially scratching his head. He agreed the horse was only very mildly off and did full flex tests on both front legs with normal results. He picked up the right front and held it parallel and was palpating the cannon and ligament when he got a very mild, and I mean it was like a muscle twitch to flick off a fly, pain response. Going over it again, he got the same reaction about halfway down the cannon on the outside of the leg…apparently unusual for a suspensory in any case.
He had me put the horse on bute for a couple of days and stall rest (which would make it two weeks of stall rest by treatment end), “cold hose if you get bored” , rub in some liniment; trot out after being on bute. If trot sound, take him off bute and stall rest for a couple of more days. If trot sound, start riding. Me being the paranoid horse owner that I am decided to go a little further and gave the horse two weeks of stall rest, two weeks of indoor ring turnout and now a week of late morning turnout with his pasture buddy (horses normally go out at 7 am, horse gets walked out at 10 after his pasture buddy has had time to get the night stupid out of his shoes). I also have front sport boots on him for turnout for now just to give a little more support to that ligament.
Again, through all this, there has never been any heat, swelling; no loss at all to the definition of the leg. Due to heat (weather wise) I didn’t trot out or lunge last week but yesterday I did a 15 min lunging session, not really pressuring, didn’t even have the lunge whip in my hand, and the horse trotted sound. I DID get some normal lengthening but I can tell I have to work on the work ethic again..he has been on vacation a little too long :) but I didn’t want him to start cantering and then get too excited. I placed him on normal turnout this week, with boots, as he trotted out fine on the lunge.
The vet seemed to think that is was an extremely mild suspensory strain but also said he may have just tweaked it in the paddock or whacked it against something, maybe enough of a glancing blow to cause mild pain but not enough to cause swelling. The vet was pretty specific that if it was a rupture or tear, the leg would have show some signs of at least mild swelling. He didn’t seem at all concerned and waived off a sonogram unless this re-occurs.
I plan on just lunging this week to do cursory checks but if everything works out to start bringing him back, riding wise, the week of the 4th.
Has anyone else had this type of mild issue before? Thoughts? Suggestions?