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RickisSweetSmoke

Suspensory Ligament Injury

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I recently read an article which stated that suspensory ligament injuries are one of the most common injuries only second to colic. Depending on the source some recommend stall confinement, others suggest surgery as the only option. Can anyone give any insight? More so I want to know about the long term progression.

My TB appears to have a suspensory ligament injury, depending on how he stands, sometimes his fetlock looks normal and other times it looks saggy in comparison to the other side. Poor boy had a nasty bout with cellulitis in this leg, it caused a sizable wound which is now 95% healed and while he has been sound it appears as though the infection or the swelling affected his SL. From previous experience with stall rest, he will stop eating, so we would love to avoid confinement, He is turned out on a couple acres with two other quiet geldings. Based on all he has been through in the past years (lyme disease, re-occurring choke and sinus infections-- which by the way seem to have resolved) we just don't think surgery is the best option either. She did recommend I touch base with a farrier (as opposed to my barefoot trimmer) and we decided to put an eggbar shoe on the hind left and a standard shoe on the right.

I have a friend who is a human and horse physical therapist, she said she has seen success with stem cell therapy (which I fear will break the bank), and also shock wave therapy. I am waiting to hear back from her to have her out for a consult and possibly begin shock wave therapy.

Currently I am keeping him in a standing wrap to try and offer support and prevent stress on the ligament. My goal is to preserve the integrity of the ligament and his soundness if possible. I do understand these injuries can be degenerative in nature and can re-occur.

My hope is, through shoes and wraps, perhaps the ligament will scar down and become strong again? Is this possible? I have also read about 'eccentric loading' aka light hill work to help strengthen things. Based on other cases I have read about, his injury is not as severe but I hope to keep it from getting worse.

Does anyone have any experiences to help me guide his care? Obviously I am working closely with my vet however she is guarded about his prognosis. She said she cannot be sure how things will play out with the integrity of his ligament. I respect her opinion but I just want to do some more research and see what I can do to give him the best chance.

Thanks!

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Okay, I'm going to weigh in.

Suspensory injuries are horrible. The tendon will not heal as strong as it was before no matter what you do. However, most horses with a suspensory injury can return to some level of work.

There's a mare in our barn who had a suspensory injury and she was treated with, I believe, eight weeks of stall rest, then put in a field to recover or not. I'm not necessarily recommending this course of action (it wasn't my choice) - it can work, though. She is sound 90% of the time, but occasionally has days when that leg seems to bother her and she has to be rested. And we don't jump her as much, or as high, as we did - sad for her, as she enjoys it, but...

IOW, when he does come back, keep an eye on him, and if he's favoring that leg at ALL pull him and give him a couple of days off. He may not be able to return to his former levels of work (but he may).

As for the stall rest dilemma - what about penning him? You could use hot tape, he'd still be able to chat with his other friends over the fence, and it might be less traumatic than keeping him in a stall.

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Thank you for sharing your experience. My boy has long since retired from jumping and because of where I am in life (start of a new career), he's a light trail horse. I would love to get back into low level dressage but of course only as tolerated.

Throughout this whole process he has not exhibited pain or lameness, I knew he was injured based on the posture of his fetlock. My hope is to maintain status quo, I would love for things to heal and I absolutely don't want them to get worse. I dont want this to become a quality of life issue.

Once it is healed, will it look like it used too, or will it always look slightly saggy?

Unfortunately I board and I have two options, turn out or stall rest. If it were any other horse I would put him on stall rest but he will stop eating. And when he is turned out, he's with two quiet gelding. Occasionally the other two geldings with chase each other and the dogs, but my boy literally marches to the beat of his own drum, if he were any more relaxed I might think he was ill.

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It may or may not always look saggy.

Lack of lameness is not uncommon with suspensory injuries. They can be three legged or they can seem fine. (And, of course, some horses will hide lameness).

He should come back fine for light trail. How old is he?

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My vet confirmed it is a suspensory ligament issue, def not a bowed tendon.

He's estimated to be around 15. I would love for him to continue on as a trail horse in the future but if not, as long as he has a good quality of life, I'm happy.

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