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 Post subject: Swollen leg - pictures
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 5:23 pm 
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Joined: Sat Dec 22, 2012 12:01 am
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Location: MA, USA
I feel terrible. I rode Crayon in the snow the other day. W/T/C, and I know we trotted and cantered more than is really safe in the snow/more than she is really fit to do. :sad: When we got back to her stall I was applying liniment and noticed that her right front leg was beginning to swell, just above the fetlock, in that groove between the tendons. Hopefully you know what I mean. It extends a little higher than that as well. It is firm, but not hard. Crayon doesn't react when I poke and prod at it, and is not lame either. She practically gave me a heart attack when she came trotting in this morning! Today is the second day since she got whatever injury this is. I have been applying liniment 3 times a day, and I have left all her hay inside, but she chooses to walk around outside anyway. Right now she is locked in her stall with polo wraps on all 4 legs (they're the only wraps I have right now...) But I don't know how long I will be able to keep her in there. She always has 24/7 turnout with her run-in, and keeping her locked in might cause her to fidget and move around more than she would just walking... I'm not sure what to do. :/

Anybody know what this might be?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:03 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
Posts: 1622
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Firstly let me say I am not a vet!!!!!

It looks to me like a bowed tendon which you can go and google.
It seems like it could be so, I have seen this twice with deep sand and I am guessing the deep snow is probably the same thing. The tendon gets stretched (overworked) to the point where it tears.
It is not a short recovery as the weight is on the front legs so it's difficult to heal although it looks as though it's not too severe in your case but hard to tell from pics.
In our case we hosed twice a day for swelling (10 mins cold water) and kept the horse in a quiet small paddock with close interaction to a friend over the fence to alleviate stress. Ground must be fairly hard so as to minimise further damage. The idea is to have the horse rest but be able to move as freely as they want in a contained space at a pace that suits them.
You are a few days in already? I would not suggest you give pain killers as the horse may further damage himself because he can't feel the pain.
It will heal given time and rest which will depend on the severity (stretch or tear) BUT it does leave a weakness for it happening again. Each time it happens it becomes more severe so it's best to avoid heavy footing with this horse and listen to the horse when they don't want to trot or canter harder.
The horse I dealt with had a mild case (one leg) and we healed it to have the owner then take the horse back to the beach and canter him again in the deep sand and he bowed both his tendons badly. He had to retire and become a pet.
If you don't see a huge improvement in the next week, I would have a vet take a look to confirm that's what it is and listen to what they say re rehabilitation and future work.

As I said above....I am not a vet and it could be something completely different, just my thoughts on what you have written and what I can see......
http://www.mdhorse.com/showarticle.asp?kk=50

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:49 pm 
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Thank you for your reply.

It no longer appears to be a bowed tendon, although I was almost certain it was before. I have been using Ice Tight clay poultice and the swelling has gone down. Now it is strictly in the grooves between the tendons, in the sesamoid area. Crayon has still been able to walk around at her leisure and I haven't given her any pain meds. I actually don't even own any... I probably should just in case, but I have always believed they can do more harm than good, in multiple ways. She doesn't even show any discomfort anyway, which seems good. She's going to get the rest of the Winter and the beginning of spring off and I'll be keeping a close eye on that leg. Hopefully it will be a relatively speedy and easy recovery.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:07 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
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Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Gosh I hope so!!! That's good news. It's always worrying when there is visible swelling and you don't know what it is. Fortunately horses are pretty good at healing themselves. I'm so happy it's getting better :D

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 4:54 pm 
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I hope so too! I'm going to give her about 6 weeks or so off anyway, just to be sure. Then when the vet comes in March (or maybe it's May... I could probably give her until then off too... But anyway, I may ask for an ultrasound when the vet comes, just to check things out and make sure everything looks good before we start work again. And we'll be conditioning extra slow this year! I certainly don't want to jeopardize her future comfort or soundness in general.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:39 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
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Location: Western Cape, South Africa
It's actually quite a common injury with race horses. The tendon gets overextended because of the push for speed even when the horse is saying they are tired. As you know a horse will still continue running with a broken leg if they have to. :sad:
I am pretty sure there is no way you would have known what was happening because the gait would have been weird in the deep snow and not felt like it normally does anyway.
I had no idea what a bowed tendon was until I saw it in the horse at the trail stables. One of the grooms had taken the horse to the beach bareback and the horse had not been at our place long and so was not used to the sand. He rode him hard in the deep sections (I think because the horse was excited on the beach and he was bareback so there was less chance he would slide off). When horses go into deep footing it is almost impossible for them to go at any speed as it takes a lot of effort due to the weight of the drag created by the sand/mud. This is what strains the tendon.
We are very mindful of staying on the firmer sand nearer the water when we take a visiting horse with us on the beach. It is tempting for the owners to want to explore the dunes and ride fast in the deeper sand because they feel safer but it is extremely easy to injure the horse this way if he normally lives on grass pasture or firm ground.
The horse that had the bowed tendon was sound again about three weeks later. We hosed twice a day, let him rest for a week or so in a small paddock and then let him out to graze with the quieter horses. The vet said he was fine to be ridden as long as he was not made to pull anything (cart), go into deep footing or any kind of jumping (repetitive).
It was not a few weeks after he was back in the herd that the owner took him to the beach and galloped him. He came back with both front legs bowed and badly. I wanted to cry. :sad: She thought she knew better than the vet and because he healed so quickly the first time she did not believe it to be serious. He is now retired in someones garden as a pet. :sad: His legs will always have the bowed look and he can't be ridden. This horse was about 14 at the time and was one of the best horses temperament wise you could wish for. This is another reason why they get it. The good natured horses don't protest or buck/loose the rider, they just find that extra ummph and give it regardless and the damage is done.
So I guess you won't be riding in deep snow any more and now you know to stay clear of heavy footing. They call it a bowed tendon because it looks just like a "bow" in shape and I think you just stopped in time as it looks like you only have the swelling at the base and only a little. So I guess it's an early warning and now you know what could happen and how to avoid it. :D I am sure in a week or two the inflammation/swelling will have gone down and you won't see it anymore just be careful she doesn't charge around in the next few weeks or rear up in play and come down heavy on it. Like humans most sprains or strains take about 6 weeks to heal fully even though they feel better after a week or two and it's tempting to resume normal activities.
P.S Quiet movement (where she can choose to move or not) will help it heal as the blood flow will aid in the healing process. Hosing with cold water will help too.
If you know anyone in the racing industry near you, they will be knowledgable about this type of injury and may be able to tell you more precisely by looking/feeling exactly what is going on and advise you accordingly.

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Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:13 am 
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Joined: Sat Dec 22, 2012 12:01 am
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I actually just came on here to update this before I saw your post. There will definitely be no more riding in the snow at all! Or mud, or excessive jumping, etc. Most of the swelling is gone, except the firm spots on each side of the leg in that groove between the tendons near the sesamoids. Still no lameness. However... the more I look at her two legs, comparing them, the more I think it is a bit of a low bow (which I believe is the worst kind). I know about bowed tendons but have never seen one in person before or even known anyone who's had a horse with a bowed tendon. The part that is throwing me off the most is the complete lack of lameness.

It's hard to hose this time of year. What should I do about that? Poulticing? Liniment? If this is a bowed tendon, how severe does it look? Does a bowed tendon require wrapping for the tendon to revert back to its original shape? I have tried wrapping Crayon a few times, and one time she ripped her front wraps off. :ieks: It seems like it's ok to let her move around at her leisure? I am ok giving her as much time off as she needs and reconditioning her very slowly. It would certainly change a lot of our plans together, but that's ok. Now I worry that she may not be able to jump again or do endurance rides like I hped to in the future. I suppose that would be the vet's job to evaluate. Do you believe it is necessary to get the vet out and do an ultrasound or anything? It's difficult for us to pay for the vet to come out, but of course we will if it's necessary. Do you know anything about certain tendon supplements to help the healing process? I've just been reading up a little on those but would plan on asking the vet before trying one if I did.

I don't mean to bombard you with questions, but you certainly have a lot of experience with bowed tendons and if that's what Crayon does have, I'm getting more worried by the minute! :sad:


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:02 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
Posts: 1622
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
No don't freak out.....it's already done and it's like you turning your ankle over. It also looks to me like a low mild bow but if if it was severe she would be lame. The hosing is necessary in the first week (you did the polticing which will do the same thing) to get the inflammation down and bring blood flow to the area. It is important she moves (blood flow to the area to help repair tissue) but she can't be charging around as she may go sideways in a hurry (getting out of the way of another horse etc) and undo the healing. Yes I understand the vet issue which is why I asked if you knew anyone in the racing industry as they would probably have more experience of hands on than a vet in healing and recovery.
I don't think there is much more you can do healing wise except wait and moniter excess running around (ie make sure someone at your yard doesn't turn her out in acres with lots of horses or put in a resource (hay/food) that horses may fight over....in other words baby sit her until you know it's healed and she can move in a hurry!).
Perhaps the best would be to ask the vet to pop in when she is passing or coming anyway (you may be able to share the cost of the call out?). It is not urgent now, and as long as you keep her calm there is no panic. The bandaging you can do later to help protect her leg (make sure you always bandage both) when she comes back into work. Just remember when you are riding she is carrying more weight (on the leg) and having to adjust to a moving weight on her back.
There are some supplements you can use like "red cell" for tissue repair but I am uncertain exactly what they contain or the brand name and again I am in a different country. Can you call past your vet/phone and ask advice?
It's good news that the swelling is almost gone and she is feeling good.....let me know how it goes
Deep breath and don't worry. Sometimes googling isn't helpful for the nerves!!!! :f: :kiss:

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Annette O'Sullivan

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:08 pm 
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Thank you for all the advice! :) Crayon is actually the only horse on the property right now, so it shouldn't be too hard to keep her calm. I'm pretty sure the vet won't charge just for a call (hopefully! haha), and when he comes out for her shots next month I can ask him to see what he thinks. Either way, we'll probably just take things very easy this year. I have to keep reminding myself that it's already happened and I can't turn back time. I'm sure I'll post an update at some point too. :yes:


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:04 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
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Location: Western Cape, South Africa
:D :f:

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:44 am 
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Just wanted to say that I feel with you and hope that Crayon will get better soon. It's always so hard when our horses get hurt :pet: :f:

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:04 am 
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Houyhnhnm wrote:
Just wanted to say that I feel with you and hope that Crayon will get better soon. It's always so hard when our horses get hurt :pet: :f:


Thank you, I appreciate your kind words. :f:

~~~~~~~~~

I took some pictures of Crayon's front legs yesterday. In the pictures where there are both legs, the "bad" leg is the far one. In the picture where there is only one leg, it is the bad one, taken from the inside. I'm not sure if that odd little bump in the second picture is actually there or if it's just ruffled hair, but I can check tomorrow.

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This hoof grows more forward than the other one, so I can see why this would probably be more susceptible to injury than the other.
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I haven't really felt around where it was swollen in a few days. I should do that tomorrow to see how it feels. But they look ok to me and both legs feel the same along the tendon. If anyone sees anything out of the ordinary, feel free to mention it. Either way, I will still be giving her plenty of time to just walk around on her own, and will get the vet's ok before hopping back on. For all I know, maybe it was just barely not bowed, or something else that just barely wasn't serious. I don't want to take any chances! :ieks: ;)

I had just gotten this pretty side pull when she hurt herself too! I guess I'll just have to wait to test it out!

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:13 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
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Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Wow...good job :applause: and clever girl for knowing to poultice when you did :D

(just remember like a human, the swelling has gone but the healing is still happening, so patience required :f: )

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Annette O'Sullivan

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:17 pm 
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Morgan wrote:
Wow...good job :applause: and clever girl for knowing to poultice when you did :D

(just remember like a human, the swelling has gone but the healing is still happening, so patience required :f: )


Thanks! I'm so happy things are at least looking pretty good. :cheers: She will still have plenty of time off and a slow reconditioning. It will be two weeks tomorrow, and I'd like to wait until at least 4 weeks, probably 6, before doing anything with her. I might take that long for the snow to melt and dry up anyway. I love that clay poultice - even more than my favorite liniment. It even brought down some puffiness in Crayon's hind fetlocks that seemed to be normal (probably small wind puffs). I have to say she doesn't have the most perfectly configured legs. (I call them toothpick legs. :funny:) But at least they seem to work for her most of the time.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:16 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
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Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Quote:
I have to say she doesn't have the most perfectly configured legs.


Sometimes this can be corrected to a degree whilst they are still growing with proper hoof trimming. This is so important when they are foals as a huge percentage will favour one front leg over the other when grazing, the hoof then grows more on one leg than the other due to wear and if it's not watched will lead to bad conformation that would not have been there otherwise. When horses have accidents or uneven wear the rest of the body conpensates and issues show up elsewhere that are actually connected to feet or limb. ;) Of course some horses are born with noticeable conformation defaults (there is not a single PERFECT horse conformation wise) but others end up with them due to people not noticing and correcting them at the time. Once the bones have fused at around 8 years the degree of correction is limited. It is interesting to watch how horses stand. Very few will choose to stand square favouring a particular limb or bringing one under the body to help with the weight distribution of the rest of the body. It's very important to get to know what your horse looks like normally so you can easily spot when something is wrong. Often lameness that is not apparent (nodding head/short stride) can be seen as the horse is pulling a leg under the body to take the weight off the sore leg.

I will often ask a vet to look a horse when they are coming for something else for my own curiousity but my best teacher has always been the trimmer as his speciality is feet and legs. So much change can occur with a trim and often situations like bowed tendons occur when the limb is already stressed due to an incorrect angle (in effect the leg is weaker than it should be and another horse (correct) may cope in the same situation whereas one that is not correct will stretch or tear.

So although it's an awful thing, it's also a learning curve and makes us look more carefully at what is correct and which type of horses can take more strain with high impact work. As I do very little with my horse and don't intend competing or driving/endurance the conformation was not as important as his personality and the fact that he was unhandled. I have to say though that when I first saw him at 3 years of age I actually started laughing as his back legs were so skew. It was partly by birth and partly that he had been left to roam and never seen a trimmer. I knew I would never get his back legs correct but today you would not notice it unless you looked really hard and knew what you were looking at.
It is helpful though to understand what is correct and where your horses lies in that scale to avoid issues and decide what is resonable to ask of the horse.
Here is a basic overview of different types of conformation and what that means:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equine_conformation#Conformation_of_the_front_and_hind_legs

I don't think you have to be too exact in worrying about all this but health and soundness will give the horse a longer life and a more smooth gait and less issues elsewhere in the body through compensation. :D :f:

Now 2 weeks ago you were wandering around oblivious and I bet now you have checked every leg and googled and made it your specialist subject :funny:

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Annette O'Sullivan

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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