Need some moral support
About 3 weeks ago, my perfect (for me) breeding stock paint mare kicked a steele gate, making it concave, and, predictably, badly injured her left hind leg. To start, she was dead lame, three legged basically. Vet ordered hosing, wrapping, bute, and keeping her on her regular turnout. She is normally turned out during the day and stalled at night in a 12 x 24 ft stall. The first week was awful. She felt pretty good with the bute and thus went tearing around like a lunatic. (3 legged) when turned out. We started restricting her turnout to a square pen that is about 3x larger than her stall so she could move some but not crazy running. Even then, on the bute she felt so good she would race around the square pen or even kick in place in her stall. The vet finally told me I could stop the bute and see if she would calm down (she has).
So at this point, the vet says every time she is crazy active she is delaying her healing at best and at worst possibly making the injury worse. I really don't want to stall her all the time, besides, she can still kick in place in the stall when frustrated, and maybe even kick the wall or something.
Obviously I'm worried and frustrated. She is making progress but is is sooooo slow. My vet suspects that she bruised the bone and tells me it can take "a really long time" to heal. She currently has no swelling, that is probably due to the wrapping, and she is no longer visibly lame at the walk. However, she is still quite painful when backing or turning, and I haven't even trotted her out yet because I don't want to possibly reinjure it at this point. A couple of days ago she FINALLY put full weight on it when backing very slowly and carefully. Actually she will back pretty soundly when the leg is wrapped which tells me that it is probably in the right place to provide support.
So my question is, has anyone out there delt with anything similar? Any new ideas? Her current routine is the square pen turnout during the day, her regular stall at night. She is hand walked 30 minutes daily on a soft flat surface, and also I walk her around the ranch and let her do some grazing to help keep her spirits up. After her walk her leg is cold hosed for 15 minutes (vets instructions), then she is completely groomed, leg dried well, and re-wrapped with padding and vetwrap over it for support. Again...vets recommendation. She is normally on a low protien diet, but I've added a little alfalfa to help her protien levels to promote tissue healing. I am not a big fan of applying chemical-type wraps like sore no more etc. unless there is an abcess I am trying to draw out. I am a nurse and do a lot of wound care and have found that those products can be irritating to the skin and don't actually help the problem, they just mask it temporarily with the tingling sensation.
Anyway, sorry so long. I am just tired and worried about my girl. I miss our rides so much, and I know I'm not being very good at being patient. Unfortunately, due to work and the distance I have to drive to get to the ranch, I really can't increase my visit frequency. Daily is my limit right now. I have a wonderful barn owner who is very supportive and helpful in finding solutions for us (like the square pen option for turn out). We are very lucky in that respect. If anyone has any better ideas or just words of encouragment they would be greatly appreciated :-(
No advice, just sympathy. My boy injured himself in turnout at the end of August, and we're on our 3rd diagnosis so far. First was "bee sting". Second, after an ultrasound, was "mild suspensory damage". Now the vets say that it's not been acting very like a suspensory injury, so they think that what might have happened is that he kicked himself in the back of the foreleg trying to get at a bug and damaged the tendon sheath. Any way you slice it, I haven't been able to ride him at all since August 30. He's on limited turnout too, and he is BORED!! He tells EVERYONE how BORED he is ALL THE TIME.
He's on limited turnout - has a smallish runout attached to his stall. Big enough for him to wander a few steps, but not so big as to entice him to act like a wild man. Or so we thought... First, he started leading Dawn Patrol with the senior citizens in the adjacent turnouts, and talking them in to racing around and bucking (and he led by example) so now we have to close the stall guard at night to keep him in his stall. His little runout is pretty close to the ring where the lessons go down, and his latest trick is to hide in his stall and wait for some lesson horse to come trotting down to that end of the ring, and then my boy ERUPTS from his stall like he's being shot out of gun, and challenges the lesson horse to a race.
So now he gets the stall guard put up whenever someone is riding in the ring too. :-P And it's been raining, so when he CAN go outside, he hangs around drinking from mud puddles. He hasn't gotten himself a GI infection...yet.
I swear, this is all stealing ten years from my life. He's being so naughty, trying to get the other horses all stirred up because he's bored. I've put enrichment toys in his stall, his hay goes in a hay net with small holes (and that actually keeps him occupied for a good long time), and I go to see him 2x per day. I had been hand-walking him and grazing like you, but the other day he threw one of his eggbar orthopedic shoes, so I need to let him lay about in the stall until the farrier can come tomorrow. :-P
The Pajama Parties with the senior citizens definitely set him back a bit. I thought the swelling would NEVER start to go down, but it's been improving rapidly in the last two or three weeks. Now I am hoping that we'll get cleared to lunge soon. Huey doesn't like lunging usually, because it's so boring, but I bet he'll be super excited when he sees the lunge line come out for the first time.
Hang in there. Your horse has to be a horse, even though that's going to make it longer to heal whatever it was that happened. The only real alternative for a horse like that is to get tranquilized all the time, I think, and who wants to do that?
Might be worth getting an ultrasound or an xray, especially since you're not sure what the damage is.
ĖThursday you don"t know how much your post has cheered me. Just knowing I'm not alone in this frustration is really helpful. As far as the diagnostics go, I am leaning towards not doing them and here is why: In doing internet research about hind end injuries, I recently read a statistic, that being in the horse world for 30 plus years I find to be quite probable. It was from a veterinary university study and it stated that of horses that have leg injuries 85% of them that will heal enough to be riding sound, will heal with rest alone. The other 15% would require more extensive measures, surgery etc. I cannot afford surgery for her anyway. So bottom line is that if it's going to heal, statistically speaking, it will heal with time and rest. It could be months, and it could even be years. I know of horses that were injured, deemed lame for life, put out to pasture, and they eventually became sound again.
Diagnostics can make us feel better because it's only natural to want to know what is going on in there, but regardless of the diagnosis, we are likely looking at rest and time to heal. I will never get rid of my mare. We've been through too much together, she is my best friend. She is only 11. I've had her since she was 4. She is comfortable and sound at the walk, so she is already pasture sound,. If she did have a permenant injury, I would probably end up breeding her. She has incredible bloodlines, conformation and temperment, and I have been looking for an excuse to breed her for years anyway in hopes of getting another riding horse for myself that has anywhere close to her incredible qualities. After that, she would be my pasture pet for the rest of her life. Can you tell I've been thinking this over for a while and worrying about the worst case scenario? Good greif :)
I'm sending good thoughts your way for you and your boy. your tales of him getting the other horses going had me cracking up! Thank you so very much for your post.
The thing about diagnostics is that they can have rehab implications. Sure, most of this kind of stuff wants rest, but some of it wants strict rest for a long time, some of it wants rest followed shortly by a period of graded exercise, some it wants 24 hour turnout, some of it wants wrapping and some of it doesn't. Some of it will get better, some won't.
Something like an ultrasound gives you a record of the injury now against which you can compare it later to find out whether healing is progressing or not...and to find out when it's time to put her back into work. It takes some of the guesswork out of the picture. Some of these injuries can be improved with corrective trims or shoeing, some can't, and if they're the kind of thing where corrective shoeing supports the healing process, the farrier needs to know what kind of injury it was because that has implications for the shoeing.
But mostly it takes a lot of the guesswork out. As an example, Huey has not through this whole thing been lame moving around his turnout or even trotting on the lead-line. And under saddle, he was just *slightly* lame. But if I'd mistaken this condition for something different and kept working him, I'd have caused some major, major damage and possibly made him lame for life. The thing looked like a bee sting, and so he *should* have been OK to ride, but it wasn't a bee sting (we realized that when the swelling from the focal injury spread out over the course of 2 weeks) and riding would have been catastrophic.
One of the mares in our barn has a stifle issue that shows up as hind-leg lameness. No heat, no swelling, and we weren't at all sure that it wasn't some kind of damage to her hock, because she was close to 3-legged lame. Would still go nuts in the turnout and stuff, and set herself back every time she did, so she went on box rest. As it happens, though, when the stifle problem was finally diagnosed after some effort, the treatment implications were that box rest was the WORST thing for her and she needed both to be on limited but 24-hour turnout, and to be walked and trotted a lot on the lead line, and to be walked through an extended series of cavaletti poles...a lot.
Earlier in the year, we tried my boy out barefoot, but it turns out that the collateral damage from his former GP show-jumping career means that he really needs to go in a supportive shoe. Riding him barefoot, even though we weren't working hard, strained some of the scar tissue in his suspensory and made him lame at the trot. No heat, no swelling...and for this one, the appropriate treatment meant that he got a week off (on regular turnout), spent a week getting lunged for increasing amounts of time, and then started on a graded exercise schedule (starting with ridiculously small amounts of time riding at a walk, and progressing by adding increments of 1 minute per day). So laying him off like he's laid off now would have been counter-productive.
It used to be that the prescription for almost any lameness was extended box rest, but the vets know a lot more about these things than they used to. It might still be worth getting more information on what's going on with your mare. Why retire her to brood if she's still rideable with the right treatment? Why have to make a guess about when the time to try her back in work is?
I know what it's like to be missing the rides. Huey gets madly jealous when I ride another horse for lessons, and I spend the entire lesson wishing I was riding Huey. I get madly jealous when I see other people getting to ride their horses, and I dream at least once a week that Huey and I are riding together. I hate it that we can't ride! I want to ride him again as soon as possible, even if it's only for 5 minutes at the walk. But because I know that with the kind of injury it turns out that he has, pushing it even a little bit would be a terrible idea. That knowledge makes it a little easier for me to say "No, got to wait". Of course, the fact that the swelling is now shrinking up like crazy both helps (because I can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel) and makes it worse (because I can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel).
Thanks again for the imput. Thursday I may not have been clear last night with my message. I was really tired and are trying to type on a new tablet. I am not completely opposed to diagnostics, but at this point in time I feel that our current regimine is working and my girl is making improvements every day. Today my BO and I backed her slowly down the barn breezway and she backed slow, but with even weight on both legs and equal distance between steps.,and she did it without being wrapped! She could not have done this last week without skipping on the affected leg.
In regards to breeding her if she were permemantly lame, thst is absolute worst case scenario, and I would never write her off without some diagnostics, and if she stops making progress I think I will at least have an US done immediately.
I just read a great article in H and R about tendon injuries and they also explain some of the benefits of diagnostics. But ultimately it is rest with controlled exercise that will gradually rebuild damaged tissue in most cases. This article really made me aware that though a horse may appear sound, there is usually still healing taking place for many months afterwards.
My current plan is to essentially give her the winter off. If she becomes sound and the vet oks it I may do some gentle walking riding bareback in the indoor arena, but I really want to give my girl as much time as she needs to get well. If she is still sound after winter then I will veerry slowly put her back into work. I don't compete, I do moderate trail riding and some arena schooling and lessons. The things I think I will have to be most careful with is hill work and really working her off of her hind end, like practicing roll backs and fence work for example we won't be doing for a looong time.
What is that old saying? "It takes as long as it takes". Unfortunately patience is not one of my strong qualities.
I know how it feels to miss riding -your- horse. I have friends who are offering to let me ride their horses, but I know I'll spend the whole time wishing they were Kody. Please keep me updated on your boy Thursday. Kody and I wish you guys all the best!
Just a quick hello to KountryPrincess from a fellow RN and horse lover...want to give you a bit of moral support in your girl's healing process...It probably feels like forever and I love how much you love your girl...warms my heart...hang in there (like you have any other option, right?) I can be the QUEEN of "terrible advice"! ;0)
Also wanted to tell Thursday that you had me ROLLING with laughter despite ALSO feeling the stress of YOUR situation...it looks as though HF has created a nice supportive co-stresser's-bond for you guys to help each other get through your situations together!!! So glad to see that, because it sounds as though you each have VERY similar "equine creatures" *wink* and also have similar ideas about how their general care should be handled...
Prayers to both of your horses for super fast healing and that horses and moms stay sane throughout the processes in both of your situations.
Best to you! B2H
Here's what she said, in her own words.
"I left the ring, and went into his stall, and said HUEY. GET. IN. HERE. RIGHT. NOW. And he slunk into the stall and went and stood in the corner. And then he LOOKED at me, and even though he TOTALLY deserved to be yelled at, I couldn't do it, and I found myself saying Good Horse Huey."
Hahahaha...all those times of busting my chops, and she got suckered by the exact same thing. You CAN'T get mad at him and you CAN'T yell at him. He just looks at you and says "I sowwy. Friends?" and then you HAVE to say Good Horse, Huey. :lol: I don't know how he does it, but he does.
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