View Full Version : Sprained suspensory ligament
6th Mar 2000, 07:42 PM
Hi, does anyone have any experience of treating a horse with a sprained suspensory ligament? I have an ex-racehorse that I was given after he came out of racing with suspensory ligament "problems". He was turned away for 15months before I got him and appeared sound when I fetched him home last August. I walked him for three months before gradually introducing trot work to get him fit and to make sure that his leg was fine. His schooling was coming on well, and he was slowly learning to hack out on his own (initially he napped quite badly, then bucked when he didn't get his own way). At the beginning of February though he went lame in the field (he was in at night, turned out during the day, which he seemed to enjoy). His near fore lower leg tendon sheath and fetlock swelled up badly, and the vet (and I!) were worried that he had torn a ligament. A week of box rest and bute saw the swelling go down a lot, and I then had him ex-rayed and scanned to look at his joints and ligaments and tendons. No tears, or arthritic changes so the diagnosis was a sprain. After three weeks box rest and bute, he was then to get gentle in hand walking exercise and a slightly larger area than his stable to walk around in (I roped off a small area in the field with electric fencing) After following this regime he is sound at walk but still has some swelling round his fetlock. I am keeping him in support bandages, and put a cool wrap on the joint twice a day (there is still some heat there). I have also started feeding him arnica. One of my problems is that he obviously feels fine in himself now and is starting to be a pain leading him between his pen and the stable. I keep another, older horse that he is friends with, in the pen with him, so he is not alone. And I am used to handling silly horses, so he doesn't get away from me, but he is leaping about a bit, and wants to buck and roll (within the limits of his space - about 24 feet square) when he goes in his pen, which worries me that he is preventing his injury healing. I have introduced bach rescue remedy, which calms him a bit, and obviously he had his feed cut right back at the start. He only has ad lib hay and a sugar beet/alfalfa mix with equilibra conditioner twice a day, and carrots. So - does anyone out there a) have any experience of sprained suspensory ligaments and how the recuperation process goes and b) how to persuade a lively thoroughbred who feels bright and well to rest! I am still liaising with my vet. Longer box rest is difficult as he does fret a bit, even though I keep his old friend close by all the time so that he is not lonely, so neither the vet or I want to confine him entirely to his box for another few weeks, though it may come to that. (I suspect that for him a life of being stabled means that he should be going race training so he is wondering all the time when he is going to go galloping - whereas being turned out means his new life which doesn't involve racing).
8th Mar 2000, 12:45 AM
I have had two horses with the same problem over the years, one of them took nine months before I could start him walking out and the other a mere four months. Both times it seemed like years but they both came right and went on to compete in endurance rides again. Everything you have done and doing is right taking your time with it BUT, why the box rest? Let him out to walk around at his own pace, he must be allowed to exercise and should not do anything stupid. The only problem you have now is his over excitement when you do let him out, but do get him out as soon as possible. You may just have to take the risk. I do like the idea of the Bach Rescue remedy, have you thought of using Devils Claw, it is wonderful, actually for both horses and riders. Good luck. David
13th Mar 2000, 07:49 PM
Many thanks for your positive reply. The box rest and confinement are to stop him pratting about in the field and making the injury worse before it is properly healed - when he is well he is rather an exuberant horse! I have gradually increased his pen size now though, and the Rescue Remedy (to my surprise) does seem to be taking effect and making him calmer. I am also walking him out a couple of times a day and letting him nibble some grass in hand, which he is finding relaxing, so things are looking up. Long term, we lease a flood meadow for summer grazing each year, and get that on 1st April, so I am hoping that if I turn him out there then, with just his old friend, for gradually increasing periods, that he will be so keen to eat the nice grass that he won't charge about. As he gets better, I am also planning to lead him for increasing walks, while I ride the older horse. I know from earlier experience of having to occasionally exercise both at once (the old horse belongs to an old friend so I help her out quite a lot) that he is happy and leads well from another horse, so that should build his muscles back up I hope, while keeping him calm.
I know of Devils Claw, but thought that it was a natural low level painkiller (it is also known in the UK as "no-bute" as it is supposed to be safe to use for competition horses and isn't prohibited as Phenybutazone is) Does Devils Claw also have anti inflammatory properties then? I have him on Arnica as I know from using it on myself how good that is for strains and tissue bruising and swelling.
Thanks again for your reply. Very encouraging to know that both your horses returned to full work.
13th Mar 2000, 08:03 PM
You probably know this already but dont let him out fulltime on the fresh grass..COLIC COLIC COLIC !!! And from my experience of holding my beloved mare's head while the vet gave her the euthanization shot, while she sweated and shook....just be careful! Her's wasnt from grass but still I am sooo leery of anything that will cause colic...
13th Mar 2000, 08:11 PM
thanks for the note of caution. No, I am not going to suddenly change his diet by turning him out full time on nice lush spring grass. It will be for gradually increasing periods of time, until his gut flora adjust to the change. That's also why I'm leading him out now and letting him have a nibble of grass - so that he is slowly getting used to having grass in his diet again. Cheers,
14th Mar 2000, 11:36 PM
I cannot see anything wrong at all with your plans for your horse and I am sure he will recover well given time. This is the main factor, give him time. Yes a great idea to lead him out but not for a while yet, I would suggest. The really good vets here are now saying recovery will take nine months, however this depends on the severity of the injury. Just do not push it.
I have used Arnica and Devils Claw and I do not know which is the better. Devils Claw however does have anti inflammitory and analgesic properties comparable to cortizone without the side effects.
I am sure it will all come right in the end, please let us all know how it goes.
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