Poor Curly — it was a good news/bad news situation.
The good news was that the vet was scheduled to come to give her an overall soundness check. The bad news was she came out of the barn noticeably lame, after staying sound for the whole spring hunt season.
The good news was that for a 20 year old horse, she is in very good shape overall. The bad news was that sometime between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning she injured her check ligament.
The good news was that it was caught right away, when it was more like a sprained ankle than a tear. The bad news is that she is out of commission for the next six weeks or so.
So, what is an inferior check ligament?
I must admit that although I’ve certainly heard of a check ligament, I didn’t know exactly where it was or how it could be injured. I only knew that it had the potential to be a very serious injury.
Ligaments join bone to bone. They are stabilizing structures that hold bones together and stop them from overextending, over-flexing or over-rotating. The inferior check ligament helps to stabilize the leg during weight bearing and injuries generally are associated with a twisting or turning. They most often occur in front legs, since the horse carries the majority of its weight on its forehand. The good news here is that check ligaments are generally one of the least severe types of injuries to a ligament or tendon. Check ligament injuries are one of the least severe of the tendon or ligament
Check ligament injuries are typically caused when a horse takes a bad step, twisting the ligament (like a sprained ankle). Ironically, Curly most likely did it out in the field, rather than galloping cross country. She is the low horse in the pecking order and she will sometimes get chased by the other horses in the field.
When I saw the injury, a day or so after it happened, it didn’t look like much. There was some slight swelling an inch or two down from the knee on the back of the cannon bone. It was visible only because it was shaved; before that I think it would have been very difficult to see. There was no heat, but she was obviously lame.
Treatment and Recovery
To reduce the inflammation, we are applying a DMSO/Furazone/Steroid mixture to Curly’s check ligament every morning (it is washed off in the eventing to prevent blistering). She is allowed to be out with the other horses provided she doesn’t run, and she has six weeks off before she is re-evaluated. The vet was optimistic that she would make a full recovery.
Has anyone else’s horse had a check ligament injury? Did they make a full recovery?