Eventing with old tendon/ligament injury
Does anyone or anyone you know event on a horse who has previously injured a tendon or suspensory? If so, what do you or they do to keep them sound? Any maintainence like special turn out situation, trimming, shoeing, icing, liniment, treatments, supplements, etc?
I am going to have to make a decision whether to try eventing again after a front suspensory tear with my gelding and want to give him the best shot at it or sell him to someone who does lighter riding than I want to do. I bought him to do beginning eventing, the lowest of levels, since it will be my first time at it. I would be okay just doing 2' with this guy, although he would have been perfectly capable to go much higher before this injury. It has been so long since I have jumped and would be thrilled to jump around a course of any kind no matter how small.
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It really depends on the individual horse, the suspected cause of the injury in the first place, conformation, fitness level, shoeing, and so much more. I'd discuss it with a vet who is familiar with eventing (if there are any near you) and if there isn't one near you, get digital copies of all his ultrasounds and call up a reputable vet hospital like New Bolton or Rood & Riddle and see if they would be willing to take a look at the ultrasounds and give you an opinion.
My last gelding tore two branches in his RH suspensory and was never able to be jumped over 18 in or worked very hard again. He developed chronic tendonitis that really affected his soundness and now is just a therapy horse where he walks kids around an arena and then goes and sits out in a lovely field with some other horses when he's not being used at the therapeutic riding center. However there are plenty of horses that come back from a tendon injury, suspensory or otherwise, and have no problems.
My horse tore his deep digital flexor tendon in his left hind in September 2011. He was on stall rest for a year and then we slowly worked up through w/t/c, then had another ultrasound to make sure everything was good, and then we started jumping again about 8 months later. Recovery time might not have taken so long with your guy, but I was completely paranoid when it came to him (he would cross-canter a stride and I would jump off him and frantically check his leg). We were jumping 2'6-3' before the injury.
After the injury, even when we were cleared, I was never comfortable pushing him when it came to jumping. He didn't require special shoeing/trimming, and he was on 24/7 turnout (I just made sure he was with the slower, lazier horses). I did have him on SmartTendon, and I did hose down/liniment his legs after every ride that we jumped or did anything remotely strenuous.
I don't know how severe your horse's tear was or where he is in his recovery, but I would be hesitant to event again. That had been my plan with Jester, to do some low level eventing, but after his injury, I decided against it because all three phases are crammed into one day (occasionally two) and that would've been too much jumping for him, in my opinion. Especially since cross country is over uneven, hilly terrain. So Jester just stayed as a hunter/jumper, and I'll be looking soon for a second horse to event with.
Thank you both!
The story on my guy is he he hurt himself in the pasture in March 2012. So it has just been a year and two months. He was stall rested initially, then moved to a small paddock and started on a rehab program, then put out into an arena sized paddock with an older mare as our boarding situation changed and he was also being brought in at night. We had one set back in September 2012 but since then it has been all forward.
He just got another ultrasound this week and the vet could not see anything. Ligaments were good and looked solid/filled in. Couldn't even tell anything was there. She was really happy and said she didn't see why he couldn't do low level eventing again. I guess it is a decison I will have to make depending on how comfortable about it I am like you did KC. Thank you for sharing your experience with Jester. It is great that he can still do hunter/jumper! I hope Shorty will at least be able to do that.
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I know several horses eventing at training and higher with old, cold and set bowed tendons that do not bother them in the least. I have another friend whose prelim mare tore a suspensory about 2 years ago. They spent the better part of a year rehabbing her and she did come back and return to her previous level of competition. Unfortunately she suffered a second torn suspensory this spring (different leg) and she has been officially retired.
I think as long as you properly condition your guy and really take you time, I don't see any reason why you shouldn't be able to do some lower level stuff. If he hasn't been jumping after his injury I would make sure that bringing him back everything was done really slowly and gradually, to build everything back up. Lots of long slow distance work, so lots of walking and trotting will help, starting with shorter distances and then slowly increasing as you go. Muscle is the quickest to strengthen, then tendons and ligaments, and then bone is the slowest to develop.
Cold hosing or icing and the wrapping after jumping or a hard ride would be a good preventative, and getting your self REALLY familiar with every inch of your horses' legs is never a bad idea! If you can notice every little bump or bit of swelling when it first pops up you will be way ahead of the game, give him a easy hack day or a day off if his legs have a bit of fill or are a little warm, stuff like that. I'd be extremely meticulous and picky about the footing as well, avoid hard/deep/sticky/muddy if at all possible, at least until you know for sure he is good to go and you are back in business. So I would say for the first few months at least, until you've got a good base of conditioning and fitness back.
And you'd just have to listen to your horse. If he's coming out with cold, tight legs most of the time and seems happy and wanting to work, then that's good! If he's coming out with heat and stiffness, or a sour attitude, then it might be too much for him. And of course, if any problem crops up, you'd want to get the vet out asap to evaluate. Ideally you'd want to be bringing him back under the supervision of a knowledgeable vet and trainer as well, but I know that that may not be totally feasible for some situations.
Hope this helps:)
Thanks albertaeventer for taking the time to write that. Right now even if I just do my normal walking and few minutes of trotting I will cold hose for a few minutes and put liniment on his legs before putting him out. I have learned rehab is the most important part and bringing them back nice and slow, so I have a plan to do that. The vet doesn't come out a whole lot but the ones that we use can usually be reached pretty quick via phone or text for any questions or updates. I rode him yesterday and he had plenty of spunk! Willing to go forward and good attitude. He is just a willing horse. I will definitely watch out for any changes like if he gets hesitant or lazy because usually he is very agreeable. So glad there are other horses with injuries similar who are going at even higher levels than I plan to anytime soon. My vet did say a lot of it depends on how passionate the individual horse is to keep doing what they love.
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