Tell me about suspensory injuries? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 10-19-2012, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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Tell me about suspensory injuries?

So, as many/some of you know, Lacey tore/partially tore her suspensory a few weeks ago and was just diagnosed as having done that to herself last weekend.

Of course, I did not opt to have any sort of pictures taken so that^ was the vets best guess with where the injury's location is, how she's moving, etc.

Basically, all summer Miss L was off and on again "lame", as in, I would periodically see a maybe head-bob at the trot but it was not reliable and it was easily passed off as "she stepped in a depression/place where the ground was suddenly higher".
So I really thought nothing of it. We took things a little gentler than usual and she seemed fine.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, during a lesson, she slipped going into the trot, interfered with herself pretty badly in front, almost went down but didn't, then trotted off super lame. I figured it was just "OUCH! I just hit myself SOO hard" lame so we continued the lesson but at a lower pace.
The next day, her LF pastern was super swollen and she was what I would think of as very lame (according to the vet, "pasture sound" so I guess there are lamer things). So I gave her extra bute for a few days and didn't work her.
A week later, she was sound at a walk but lame at the trot so she continued to get time off.

Then, it got really windy and she got really frisky (shoulda' taken her off the bute but I didn't think of that) and ran around too much, which seemed to injure the area again.

This time, I stopped all bute, put a call into the vet, and kept her out of any sort of work.

Then the vet said "Suspensory, retirement, little kids riding only, a year of recovery, etc" and I said ok.

So now she's off bute/any painkillers, on lots of anti-inflammatories, having that leg cold-hosed/iced daily (hoping to up it to twice daily), and I really trimmed her hooves this week getting all pressure off the sides of her hoof - since the injured area is on the inside of her pastern). IMO, it looks bad but post-trimming she was 60% more comfortable than she had been (also, post-trim, the swelling seems to be lessening) so if it works!

Then today we had a lesson kid come out (my lesson kids just don't want to stop even though I've told them that riding is basically out, they're the sweetest) and Lacey practically threw said kid on to her back to ride. I had not planned on letting this little girl ride but Lacey saw her, walked straight up to the mounting block and stood there waving her head around, nickering.
So I figured that she's doing so much better, that 10 minutes of walking with a small kid couldn't hurt. So they did that and Lacey seemed to really enjoy herself. By the end of ten minutes L was "done" but both of them had a nice time just walking around doing simple figures where every turn was on Lacey's "good" leg - no need to cause pain intentionally!

Anyway, I'm just not sure of a timeline/what else I can do for this injury.
Is being this much better so fast basically a miracle healing (a week ago she was barely comfortably walking) or normal?

She's out in the pasture walking around during the day and stalled at night. The vet told me that stalling is the usual protocol but with Lacey's age and since we're not hoping for a performance level recovery, we decided that, especially since L is keeping her activity levels low (the goats help with that - they don't do a whole lots of running around, haha), a pasture recovery is just fine.

I have considered putting some sort of boots/wraps on her at night to support things but I have no idea what would be "best"...or even if boots/wraps would be beneficial!

Is there a recovery "guide" somewhere that I should read? Any experiences? Anything more I can do to help her out?
I do have a very limited budget (ie, why I didn't get any sort of internal visual of the injury) but within my budget, I'm willing to do whatever I can to help her heal well.

Thank you!

ETA- my word, sorry for the novel!!

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #2 of 6 Old 10-19-2012, 05:32 PM
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My yearling pulled his suspensory when he was a weaning. So bad he wouldnt put any weight on it.
He was stalled six weeks with support wraps (some people call them no bows). Bute 2x a day for a week. Then switched to 1cc banamine in his food 2x a day for 2 weeks. Cold hose 2x a day. After 6 weeks we started hand walking 10 mins a day (real fun with a yearling who has been stalled for 6 weeks. Lol). Then after two weeks of hand walking. He gotnturn out 10 mins at a time. This happened the day after thanksgiving. And he didnt return to normal turn outs and routines until March.
Thats what my vet had me do. And he has been perfectly sound since. Passed all x-rays. Dont know if any of that helps.
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post #3 of 6 Old 10-19-2012, 07:11 PM
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Believe this or not but, an AFA Certified Journeyman farrier that was re-habbing my foundered horse, trimmed him so short, on the third trim, that ultrasounds and X-rays showed torn ligaments and sesamoiditis.

That was on July 21st and I don't need to say how very very P.O.'d I still am but:

1. The first two weeks (yes, in the middle of that awful southern summer heat) I sweat him for two weeks with Numotizine. I was supposed to sweat him longer but, even wearing rubber gloves, my mouth swelled up just smelling that stuff.

1.1 So I switched to Sore-No-More which is an all-herbal cold poultice and does a wahzoo job of "holding" the leg up.

1.1.1 I washed his legs every day with Dawn dish soap and very warm water, then cold-hosed him for ten minutes, then put the poultice back on. Making sure to cover from the knees all the way down and around the fetlock joints with at least 1/4" thick of poultice.

2. Wrap with vet wrap. One roll did both legs but I did that twice a day. I found vet wrap that actually works for 99 cents/roll at Schneider Tack.

3. Wrap leg quilts on top of that.

4. Wrap standing wraps on top of the quilts.

5. Turn out for the day or put to bed, depending which end of the day we're talking about.

That all started in July. I am still doing the same routine BUT, I now only poultice him for a couple days right after I trim him. The rest of the time I soak his legs with Sore-No-More's liquid.

This horse is crippled for life but even the vet was surprised to see the recover he's made to-date. I think this horse will recover to enough to where he can hack my niece for 20 easy minutes when she comes to visit, as long as I keep his legs wrapped.

I suspect he will always have to go to pasture with some form of "granny support stockings" because he is literally on the hairy edge of destruction, between the severe founder and the damage the farrier did.

As long as you are willing, and have the time to wrap your horse daily, he should recover to the degree you anticipate in your post.

I am also looking into ceramic therapy boots from

I think that's correct. The premise of these products is the heat of the horse generates heat thru the ceramic particles; sort of like a heating pad without a plug.

I hope this helps because I can tell you without question, keeping my horse wrapped and poulticed every day-every day, saved his life. He is still happy happy and hasn't been on bute since July. As long as he is chugging along bright-eyed and ears up, life is good. If his outlook changes due to pain then I will re-evalutate things-----------
Here he is on October 3rd, boots with pads for the founder, three layers of "stuff" for the ligaments and sesamoiditis. He usually wears a grazing muzzle but I took it off for the pic. He is just shy of being bubble-wrapped.

Last edited by walkinthewalk; 10-19-2012 at 07:19 PM.
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post #4 of 6 Old 10-19-2012, 08:20 PM
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Provide a smaller turnout for her so on her frisky days she doesn't have enough room to bounce around so much. 15'x15' for a week, assess and increase turnout area to 25'x25' or so for another three weeks, maybe more. She needs to move, but you don't want her twisting or stretching herself again. While she is on this limited turnout, hand walk her daily. If she can walk for 1/2 hour already, then keep that up. After a week, trot for 5 minutes with the walk. After every session, check for heat. Regardless, heat or not, cold hose for 10 minutes minumum. 20 minutes is better. Apply cold poultice (like ice-tite) and wrap both fronts. So you're looking at 1-1/2 hours at least every day of care.

Week three, walk 10 minutes, trot 5, walk 5, trot 5 and walk 10. Same care if you have the patience. Me, I started to slack off at this point. Hosed for 10 minutes only and ice-tite only if there was any heat. But if she ever had heat, I would step the exercise back to the week before and start recounting my weeks. I got to know pretty well what I could expect from her and only had one backslide.

Week four, walk 10, trot 10, walk 10, trot 10, walk 10. Same care. You're going to be in good shape from the trotting yourself. :)

By now, turnout can hopefully be larger area, especially since she is apparently a quiet horse. But you want to keep a close eye on her activity for 8 weeks minimum. You could maybe be riding 10 or 20 minutes at a walk if you wanted to, which will make it a bit for fun, plus keep her skills up to snuff.

Keep increasing the exercise week by week. I would not trot for more than 5 minutes riding for at least 8 - 10 weeks. But, that was my mare and every injury is different. And after EVERY ride for a year I checked for heat religiously. And at EVERY feeding I checked for heat religiously.

Good luck.
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post #5 of 6 Old 10-19-2012, 08:40 PM
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I have dealt with this injury and it cost a lot of time and money to fix properly. My favorite horse severely tore his left hind suspensory. We did stall rest/small turnout and shock wave therapy for the first 3 months, then pasture rest for the next 3 months. Did not reattach properly, so my horse had surgery, with 30 days strict stall, then pasture rest for 8 months. Then we did a lot of long slow rehab riding with acupuncture therapy, slowly building distance and difficulty of terrain to get him 100% sound again... until his next injury put him out of commission again... and again....

One thing to note... suspensory ligaments are tricky to heal as the horse may not appear lame in any way, but it is still hurt, and will eventually show up if pushed too hard, but the obvious symptoms go away after a short time of rest. When my horse was first diagnosed, I noticed a slight toe drag after maintaining trot for a few miles. I'd hand walk him home and go to call the vet, but he'd no longer show lameness.

I live in the northern mountains of Utah with my wonderful husband, 5 horses, 4 dogs, 2 cats, 32 geese and 9 ducks. Life is good.
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post #6 of 6 Old 10-19-2012, 09:12 PM
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We all have various methods of exercise and treatment but the one thing we all agree on?

Much time/patience and even more money

I forgot to say that my horse was on half acre of flat turnout with the greatest babysitter in the world to keep him quiet -- my 26+ Arab.

As he started to show he was healing and his movement was becoming more fluid, I opened up the rest of my yard and three acres of pasture that included a small hill.

He is now out on 12 acres with the other three but he is 17, a laid-back horse by nature and won't herd up too tight with the other horses if he doesn't feel he can keep up. He's happy as long as he can see them and knows he can get to them, if he wants to. I closed off the other ten acres because the hills and ridges are way too dangerous for a horse in his condition; I'm not sure he will ever be able to graze in that side again.

Every horse is different as to how well they babysit their own self.
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