It seems that all I have been reading, researching, thinking and talking about recently is a little ligament that until a few months ago I hadn’t even thought twice about!
Firstly if you have a similar issue check out this Facebook group it’s very helpful to talk to people going through the same thing > PSD Discussion Group Facebook
Something wasn’t right with Dustry, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I couldn’t see anything conclusive when watching him from the floor, but when riding he felt slightly lop sided behind and just ‘not right’. I’m afraid that’s as specific as I can be when it comes to things like this,but knowing him like I do it was enough of a niggling concern to make me bite the bullet and book a lameness work up.
My vet put D through flexions, lunging on hard ground, soft ground, big circles, small circles, inspected his limbs, nerves blocks, ultra sounded, x-rayed, poked and prodded him over the course of two visits and concluded that the problem lay with his off hind suspensory ligament.
On the ultrasound there were no lesions eg tears or holes in the ligament which is good, and there were no signs of thickened scar tissue. The scan showed that the off hind was inflamed, making it a little wider than the other leg on the scan, and as such he would class his condition as ‘mild’. Mild is a very encouraging word to hear after over 4 hours of investigation I can tell you!
So with the extent of his injury now understood we could talk about his rehab and treatment. Part of the issue is that Dustry’s hock conformation is very straight and he has long pasterns, which when doing fast work, jumping, or taking more weight on his hind legs during dressage training can lead to a more acute angle in the fetlock and as such potentially lead to strain of the suspensory.
In addition to that his ‘footy-ness’ when walking on stony ground (due to very thin soles) could encourage him to load more weight behind, to make the front feet more comfortable which again could lead to added strain on his hind limbs.
Thirdly some horses with kissing spine or back issues can stand with their hocks stood out behind them rather than under them to make their backs more comfortable and as such potentially strain the hind limbs further with them in this unusual position. Thankfully Dustry has a good back, a custom made saddle and exhibits no signs of soreness or discomfort in that area – phew!
My vet explained that hind suspensory injury needs to be treated as a whole and the combination of many little improvements should help to improve movement and as such reduce additional strain on the hind limbs and aid recovery.
So days after diagnosis Dustry had the farrier and he had some swanky new rubber pads put on all round. These are like the horsey equivalent of Nike Air Max! In the space of 2 weeks he had removed 3 of them, and once the missing 3 were back on he decided to dis-guard the 4th! *face palm*. For now (because the ground is soft again) I’m going to postpone using pads and attempt the glue in expensive ones during the summer months when the ground is hard. Fingers crossed these will stay on better!!
He had x-rays of his feet taken to asses his foot balance and he’s now been shod with a little more shoe at the back of his hoof to support his heels.
Dustry has had 6 weeks of field rest (no riding) and 3 shock wave treatments now and in addition to the prescribed treatment from my vet I have bought an Arc Equine machine to help his recovery and ongoing maintenance when back in work. I’ve no idea if this additional complimentary therapy will help but as 50% of the cost of it is covered on my insurance I figured it was worth a punt. Online reviews seem very positive so we shall see….
We’ve been given the go ahead to start work again which is both a blessing and a curse! Dustry is a total workaholic so imagine his excitement when I got on to WALK him in a straight line for 15 minutes…..it’s much more exciting than you’d think!!! We will be gradually building up the work and paces, and hopefully all going well (please cross your fingers toes and eyes for us) by next year we should be back to a good level of work and fitness and considering competing again.
In the meanwhile I have been #borrowingBolly Mummy Groom’s horse and took him for some XC schooling the first time he’s been XC since 2009 and he was a TOTAL DUDE. Needless to say the hunter trial entry form is in the post.