Suspensory ligament desmitis - the long term

blaze

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Hello,

I know quite a few people on here have horses with varying suspensory ligament problems and I'm hoping you might be able to give me a bit more of an insight as to my horse's capability in the future.

Very short background: Horse is now 7, I bought her at 4. Aged five, she underwent an arthroscopy on a fore fetlock, to clear the joint of debris caused by DJD. Has had the joint medicated and is currently (touch wood) sound on that leg. Aged six, she went lame behind and was found to have suspensory desmitis in both hindlegs, in the upper part of the ligament rather than the branches. Also diagnosed with DJD in both stifles. Stifles medicated, also shockwave therapy on suspensories, which subsequently improved enough for surgery to be deemed unnecessary. The space of a few millimetres that there should be between her ligament and the bone is gone due to the change in the ligament and that will never improve, but she is a different horse than she was before the SWT.

Now my horse is back in work, but I am completely unsure what I could, or should, expect of her, and how much time I should give everything. The vets at the hospital say that she should be suitable for the level of work I had planned - local showing and dressage, hacking, etc. But they can't be more specific and I'm feeling a little lost. I am finding myself utterly petrified of doing something to cause her to break down. How have you found your horses' recoveries? Are cases like this likely to relapse?

I'm not as worried regarding the DJD as I am used to dealing with that now - I'm more concerned about doing too much with the ligaments. But I'm also in danger of never doing anything at all because of this fear!

Just wondered if sharing your experiences might help me realise what's possible after this type of thing and get me out there again without worrying about every slip and stumble!
 

star

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My Welsh Cob was 17 when he was diagnosed with proximal suspensory desmitis in his right hind. Luckily we caught it early and it was not too serious but it was bad enough to make him 8/10 lame after flexion. He came sound by the 3rd session of shockwave and after months of box rest and controlled exercise we started back at prelim dressage. Another 6months had us back up to Elementary and doing as well as ever. Started working at Medium again soonish after that and we are still at that sort of level. He is 20 now. I didn't jump him again till the beginning of last year but last year we did plenty of show-jumping competing at 2ft6 but doing 3ft at home. We also did a ODE, hunter trials and plenty of sponsored rides. I am still paranoid about it going wrong again but I fell 3yrs down the line and with a 20yr old horse I haven't got a lot to lose by pushing him on to higher levels. We wont be doing any more jumping though after he broke my wrist before xmas - cant risk anymore time off!
 

blaze

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Thanks Star - I had read about you and Dan some time back, I think you kindly replied at the time my horse was diagnosed. My problem is that she is still only 7 and I am so paranoid that the wrong going, too much exercise, the wrong exercise - ANYTHING! - could do more damage than she had originally. I don't want her to be able to do much, but I'd like to think we could get into a consistent regime. She had fantastic treatment at the time and I have asked the vets but for obvious reasons they are guarded. I just want to be sure I know what I am doing and what I shouldn't be doing! :-o
 

TeamMinerva

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My horse did her suspensory ligament in her near hind when she was 9. I didn't own her then and her owners at the time would not pay the cost of getting it fixed. I didn't find this out until I bought her aged 15 and tried to get the problem sorted myself. They told me the vet could not repair it and I ended up seeing the same vet with her who told me he could have done something but they had refused to pay.

To cut a long story short because the injury was so old the only real option he offered me to make her 100% sound was to denerve the leg from the hock down. I did not go for that because I thought the risks of her injuring herself because of not being able to feel so much of the leg were too great.

Anyway she is now 23. On a good day she is bang on sound. On a bad day she is a bit unlevel. The huge majority of people don't even notice.I ride her lightly but only in walk and trot. She broncos in canter (even when she trots up sound)and I have eliminated every other cause of this which leads me to believe canter hurts her leg when she is carrying a rider as she will happily canter out in the field.

The main thing I do with her now is show her in hand in veterans classes,mostly just riding club level (she was overall veteran champion last season at my riding club) and I do the odd county show with her too.

I give her cortaflex which has made a significant difference to her mobility. Sorry if this has just been waffling a bit but just though I would give you a vague idea of my experience of having a horse with a wrecked suspensory ligament!
 

blaze

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No, that makes me feel better, thank you! This is the kind of thing I need to hear, I think - tales of people whose horses have done this and yet carried on. I'm determined to start lessons with her again soon, think this is why I'm suddenly so anxious about whether I'm doing the right thing!
 

ihatework

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Hi,
My horse was diagnosed with high suspensory desmitis as a 6 rising 7 year old, having PN and N evented. He had some time off and has since been a really nice rdidng club allrounder, hes gone on to do BD novice, BE OPN, BSJA BN/Discovery.
He is now rising 10.
Unfortunately for other reasons he is now out of work but the vet who originally diagnosed him saw him again last week and commented that he was looking good behind.
 

laurag

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Hi, My horse had susp desmitis in near hind due to injury in field when he was 3. He has quite long pasterns behind which didn't help him. He had SWT and 8 months off. I too am absolutely paranoid about how much I do with him. He is often stiff but fine once warmed up. His last scan showed complete healing with no scar tissue but he'll always be a bit weaker on that leg. He has been out of work due to a curb. Vet saw him and said the best thing I could do for his legs is to get him fitter. Building up to half an hours trot before starting canter etc. His fetlocks have lifted behind brilliantly he is also shod longer behind to give the back of his legs more support. However he is currently lame on that leg.....!!!! I think he's had akick as his splint bone is inflammed and it runs down his leg.....still paranoid it's his ligament though!! Any questions I can answer I'd be glad to. Vet said that un aff 3 day event would be limit really of what he could do as long as he was fit. I haven't jumped him yet though as we've had so many hiccups in our training but he's still only 6.... sorry long post!!
 

blaze

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Thanks Laura - it's so good to hear that I'm not the only one who's paranoid! The vets are paid to be clinical but when it's your horse it's impossible to just forget how bad it was and carry on regardless. I think long, slow build-up is the key then. I've also just started with a new farrier and of course I'm worried that she will suffer an effect of that. Previous farrier was fantastic and got her sound with remedial farriery, but became really unreliable in competition season and ended up setting us back in the end. Have had to change to a more local farrier but her feet already look different. I feel stuck in an endless loop, always with something to worry about!
 

nijinsky

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My girl also has suspensory damage in both hind legs. This has been going on since September last year (I think I've written numerous posts - people are probably bored to death). She did her spell with shockwaving & has had steriod injections into the hocks as they also found a little bit of arthritis. I had her back in to rescan just before xmas & her right hind is as good as new but the left hind, although improved, wasn't as healed as the right so she wanted to redo the shockwaving. She wanted advice from a specialist at one of the Newmarket clinics & came back to me on 2nd Jan to say he recommended not doing any more with her but bring her back into work & recheck her again in 3 months.

So vet advised 4 weeks of walk, 5th & 6th week trot & 7th week canter & schooling. Then she will go back in to rescan & hopefully all will be well.

Nobody could be any more paranoid than I am. If I could wrap her up in cotton wool I would. Even bringing her back into work now I'm so scared to do things. It's difficult to follow the programme & know when to move up a gear if you're not riding every day. The easiest thing for walk would be to hack out every day to be sure she's getting enough walking to move up to trotting but I can't hack of an evening, it's too dark, so just hack at weekends. I've just started doing a little bit of trot in the school & even with that I'm paranoid about it being too deep, too this, too that. But all said & done I can feel that she's moving a lot better, a lot freer, so I can only hope that she will come through this & be sound by the end of it. I would love to say I'll be back jumping in the summer but who knows although the vet did say that this type of injury occurs more in dressage horses than jumpers. I have a fantastic farrier which helps. I'm not having any lessons again yet as I don't think some instructors are that sympathetic & may want to push her beyond her capabilities but once I feel ready I will.
 

laurag

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Hi nijinksy, I'm glad to hear you're riding again....I was in exactly same position as you when Sam came back into work as couldn't hack due to darkness and the fact he was a green pur yr old who needed company so did all my walking first time round in the school;;;;super boring isn;t it!! I managed to hack him when I brought him back into work after his curb and it's made a big difference as he uses himself more and thus strengthens himself up. The advice I've had is takeit really slow and steady with building up the work and you should be ok. I bet if you're anything like me you can tell if he's even slightly unlevel! Have been braver with his work this year and really tried to ride every day and work him properly and his legs look better for it so work does seem to be a good thing. I even bore myself looking at his legs...is he resting it today more than usual? does he feel a litlle unlevel?? etc etc etc!! yawn yawn! Nice to hear from others in same boat as makes me feel more positive. Good luck to you and Blaze.
smirk.gif
 

star

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i did all my walking in the school too. it was the middle of winter so there was no way i could hack out apart from at weekends. it was incredibly dull but it was all worthwhile and 3.5yrs later i still have a sound horse!
 

Alibear

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Another who did all her walking in the school , managed to make it less boring (well for me) by doing periods with and without stirrups and working on circles and serpentines and picking up the contact or making the horse stretch out which can all be done without putting any pressure on their legs.
My chap went through the op and we have the odd stiff day but my vet says he's fine to do anything I wish just to take it easy for a while if he does have an off day.
 

nijinsky

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Hi Laurag. Yes, it couldn't be any more boring for me or her. In the school though at least I can concentrate on myself, position, etc. I try & ride mainly with no stirrups & try and get her really listening to the leg aids. I had a fantastic lesson on a grand prix dressage horse just before xmas & I'm keeping every word of advice with me when I'm riding. I do feel my mare seems a lot better, is a lot more willing to go forward now. I do think she has a funny action with her left hind though. Not sure if it is cause for concern or that's just the way she goes, conformation fault possibly. When she brings her left hind under, it doesn't land straight, it lands over to the right, so she's bringing it under and across! Anyway, I do think she feels a lot better so I'm happy with that.
 

MeAndMully

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Having only had my 10 year old ID/TB for 6 weeks, he broke down and was diagnosed with PSD in both hind legs. He has no bone issues and initially improved from 5/10ths to 1/10th lame. The last tenth though seems to be difficult to shift. He has been rested as much as is safely possible for the last two months and has just had his first SWT of 3 sessions.

I just wondered if anyone could help me with some advice - he is currently on a controlled exercise programme of walking only. No longer just in hand, he can be ridden too. Trouble is, he is too full of beans and is too tricky out in traffic on his own. So I'm struggling with having to use a soft surface school - will this make the problem worse? Not sure if its my imagination but he seems to find it more difficult in the school.

The idea of a controlled exercise programme would be fab if you have a horse who doesn't abuse his energy levels(!) or you have a horse-walker, don't work, or people to do the riding for you!!!

Also - at what point do you know to go on the next level? I know its too early now, but how do you know to push them that little further to see if they can cope without breaking them down again??

Any advice greatly received. I feel positive one minute and not the next.... dare say thats the way it is.
 

star

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we did all our walking in the school coz it was dark in the evenings - didnt' stop my horse coming back fine. it is best to do it on firm surfaces, but not if he spends the whole time jumping up and down like tigger! soft surfaces are more hard work for them.
moving on up is done gradually - my horse went sound after 3 shockwaves, so we did 3 months of walking, then 3 months trotting, then cantering, waited another year before doing much jumping. i just moved up when the vet said to - he wasn't lame at any stage, so we just kept increasing the workload. then started competing again at Prelim, and worked our way back up to Medium over next 4 years, then he broke down a few weeks after my last post above
frown.gif
- nothing to do with his suspensory though - we got 4.5yrs of good work out of that - this time it was his annular ligaments.
 

star

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he was operated on at Newmarket last August - now back in full hacking work - no idea if his leg will stand up to any dressage again though - dont think I want to risk him breaking again - my nerves couldn't stand it!
 
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