Would you ride as a wound is healing?

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Would you ride as a wound is healing?

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    10-22-2012, 12:17 PM
Would you ride as a wound is healing?

Some of you might have seen my other thread about treating my mare for sarcoids. She has two forms (occult and nodular) under her right "armpit" area. We are currently 1 week into treatment with Aldara, a topical ointment that essentially stimulates an immune reaction by which the body produces cells that attack the cancerous tissue- the result is a progressively open, raw sore as the bad cells slough off and (hopefully) healthy skin reemerges. The picture below is after two days of treatment; it's continued to open up since the picture was taken, leaving more raw, exposed skin. We just finished the first week of a 4-week treatment cycle.

My vet told me I should continue to ride during this time- to "treat her like a horse" and not have her standing around for a month. I'm finding that's easier said than done. While she's not obviously sore (so far continuing to let me apply the ointment and clean the area; not limping or favoring the leg), I just feel so guilty as I see this open wound continuing to grow. Given it's location, doesn't it just seem like it has to hurt as the skin stretches and pulls around the wound? Maybe I'm just being a softy, but even at just a walk and light trot, every stride I feel like I'm making her hurt.

I thought I'd ask for advice here, because I think I need to mentally decide whether I'm going to ride her or I'm not during treatment. Yesterday when I rode, I was clearly babying her, and had a terrible ride because of it. I was nervous and tense, and that made her the same way. So, either I'm going to commit to riding her and really riding, or I'm not. For what it's worth, this is not a highly tuned performance horse- we're working on being able to do a training level dressage test, but she's not jumping huge fences or going on 20 mile rides. She's maybe being ridden 30-45 minutes 3-4 times/week. Would you continue on with this kind of riding during treatment?
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    10-22-2012, 12:20 PM
What is the horse telling you when you ride? Is she uncomfortable or is she behaving as her normal self? If she is still perky, no personality change under saddle, and willing to work, I would keep riding. She'll let you know if she's hurting.
    10-22-2012, 12:22 PM
Green Broke
So the picture doesn't really show me where this is? If it is close to where tack would go or where I could bump it, no, I would not ride. I might consider getting her to pony off another horse as long as she doesn't get sore from the wound. That way there's no tack on her or a person but she can still get out and get exercise.
    10-22-2012, 12:47 PM
Poppy, good question, it is not being rubbed by the girth at all. It's towards the front of her right front "armpit"- I can try to get a better picture today.
    10-22-2012, 12:48 PM
Originally Posted by twiz454    
What is the horse telling you when you ride? Is she uncomfortable or is she behaving as her normal self? If she is still perky, no personality change under saddle, and willing to work, I would keep riding. She'll let you know if she's hurting.
So far, she's acting like her typical self.
    10-22-2012, 12:55 PM
Green Broke
If there's no tack hitting it or you aren't with your leg or such, my biggest concern would be debris getting in the wound while you are out riding.
    10-22-2012, 01:34 PM
I think it's going to be uncomfortable for her to have the skin stretching but its very important that it happen. If the skin heals over and isn't stretched it can heal in too tight and cause bigger problems later on. It's like if you have a scar - you have to massage it and keep the skin flexing so it doesn't get too taut. Imagine how much less she will like moving when her skin doesn't give as well.

Consider it physical therapy. It sucks but its for her own good. I think you may need to find a way to keep her in work but I think you should find a way. Handwalk her if you don't want to ride. Go hiking and take her along or lunge or free lunge or whatever you can think of.
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    10-22-2012, 04:28 PM
I think your vet is right- "ride and treat her like a horse." If he thought the tack would interfere or that it would slow the healing, I am sure he would not have reccomended that you keep riding.

If you are worried about dirt and debris getting in there, (which probably no more would than her being turned out or in her stall, rolling etc) then ride before you do your daily treatment. That way it is getting cleaned out and reapplied after your ride.

If you let her sit while she is healing it might not heal with the same range of motion- another poster mentioned thinking of it as physical therapy, that's a great idea!

She is a big, heavy animal- it would be like you having an open blister on your elbow or something, I bet you would still go to work ;) Just pay attention to her as you are riding, don't be all nervous or she will feed off of it.

Best of Luck!
    10-23-2012, 03:31 AM
Originally Posted by twiz454    
What is the horse telling you when you ride? Is she uncomfortable or is she behaving as her normal self? If she is still perky, no personality change under saddle, and willing to work, I would keep riding. She'll let you know if she's hurting.
This. You can also always tone your rides down if you wish. Try practicing your bareback skills at a walk and gentle jog in a nice soft arena, or just mosey on an easy trail for 20-30 minutes. Above all, you know your horse. My horse is recovering from an injury and even when handwalking her I can tell when she has had enough.
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    10-23-2012, 09:36 AM
Thanks everyone- this is just the sort of "toughen up" advice I needed. As of now, she's still acting like her normal self, and until she gives me signs otherwise, the plan is to keep exercising her. If she seems sore or off, I will reconsider.

If helpful, here's a picture from tonight that gives you a better idea of where this is on her leg. Tonight it was more dry & crusty vs. raw & weeping (I was expecting the latter, but am happy not to have a lot of pus and blood). We're now in week 2 of treatment, and I am cautiously optimistic. Though I will feel much better when the large nodule shows signs of coming off; right now, that hasn't changed much at all.
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