Break out the bubble wrap

Freedom trotting
Freedom has finished his rehab, but I just can’t trust that he’s better. Every time I’m at the barn I check that leg over and over again.

Freedom has officially completed his four months of rehab. Actually, his injury occurred 18 weeks ago. His leg looks great and my vet has confirmed that it feels just as good. I have yet to have the confirming ultrasound, but right now, all systems are go. He can now canter under saddle and we’re able to go out for longer rides that are limited more by the heat than by his leg.

However, I’m having a hard time trusting the recovery. I scrutinize his leg. Does it look slightly puffy today? Should I poultice it? Cold hose it?

One day this week I had him tacked up and ready to go but didn’t like the way he was standing. I thought he was resting it funny or pointing his hoof slightly. I decided not to take the chance and turned him out instead.

I think it’s officially time to break out the bubble wrap so he’s protected from further injury. I know it’s ridiculous — horses find ways to hurt themselves that you can’t even dream up — but it doesn’t stop me from worrying.

How long after your horse was injured (and rehabbed) did it take before you stopped worrying? Do you ever?!




Freedom Update

Freedom trotting
Freedom doing self-initiated trot bursts. He’s looking really good right now and carrying better weight than ever. The trick will be to keep him like this when he goes back to full work.

Freedom is recovering well from his cribbing collar rubs. He now lets me touch them (yay!) which means it’s easier to apply a salve. A friend loaned me a spray on herbal product that was very helpful at the beginning since there was no way I could actually touch him behind the poll.

I wasn’t able to use a bridle on him until yesterday so I’ve been riding him in a halter with two lead ropes attached. Not very subtle control but sufficient to ride him in the field. His ligament recover is going quite well and I wanted to keep him in work. This week we extended the amount of trotting we do to once around our field — about 50 seconds.

Rubs from collar
This is how the rubs looked the day after it happened. Luckily he’s healing quickly. I rode him in his halter because it didn’t touch the sore area.

I was worried that he’d be cribbing constantly without the strap but so far that really hasn’t happened. I’ve found him cribbing occasionally on the fence posts but for the most part it hasn’t been an issue. I’m beginning to wonder if I can leave it off altogether. I’ve never been happy with turning him out with a collar; I worry that if he catches it on something he’ll be seriously injured but I also have to keep him from  pulling the posts over. We have electric on the rails but he’s too smart to get shocked and goes right for the posts.

There has to be a better way to design a cribbing collar — one that doesn’t rub and one that has a quick release like a breakaway halter. None of the designs out there are great, especially for a horse like Freedom who lives out.

Injured check ligament sidelines Curly

Curly hunting this spring
Curly out hunting this spring. She looks good for a 20 year old!

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.

The Check ligament runs on the back of the cannon bone behind the knee.
The Check ligament runs on the back of the cannon bone behind the knee. When I saw the injury there wasn’t much swelling. It would have been very hard to see before the area was shaved. I heard, though, that she was very reactive when it was touched.

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 inflamation, her ligament is treated daily with a DMSO/Furazone/Steroid concoction.
To reduce inflammation, her ligament is treated daily with a DMSO/Furazone/Steroid concoction. DMSO is highly carcinogenic — you really need to wear gloves to apply it. Anything that’s quite that fluorescent color can’t be good for you.

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?