Bowed Tendon Advice

My nine year old quarter horse gelding bowed his tendon about a month ago. I have never dealt with rehabbing a bowed tendon before. I have a good vet.
I will try to make a long story short, but I am looking for some advice.
Immediately started strict, stall, rest, I have a pair of those Jack’s whirlpool boots. So from day one I started icing his legs in those for about 30 minutes a day, seven days a week. Using DMSO and wrapping with standing wraps, and no bow bandages.

Fast forward two weeks, the DMSO took a bunch of his hair off, so I stopped using that. I did not know that was a potential risk. So I started using draw it out liniment.

Fast forward to today, his non-injured front leg, I curried his leg today, and a bunch of hair came off and it was a little bit bloody. I will try to attach a picture if I can. I feel absolutely terrible.
So right now his daily routine, seven days a week is icing his legs for 30 minutes, and walking for 20 minutes, and wrapping every day with the draw it out liniment and no bow bandages. I don’t know what is causing the hair loss. My Guess is either I should not be icing every day, or it could be the chafing with the wraps. I have texted my vet a few times, and he really isn’t being helpful at this point. All the websites I have been on just say to ice for the first 48 hours after the initial injury. Here I am he still wants me to do it seven days a week. It’s like his legs are raw in places and I feel horrible.
I do magnawave the bowed tendon for 10 min every other day.

I need thoughts on what could be causing this? I feel like I should stop icing all together. And just keep him install rest, hand, walking, and keeping his legs wrapped. Thoughts?
Then I thought maybe to stop using the draw it out, even though I know that’s not the problem, and start using a mud, wrapping that with plastic wrap, along with the no bow bandages.

If his skin is irritated, it is probably best to not apply any “potions” like liniment or poultice. Let his skin heal.


So, would you recommend just wrapping with no bows with nothing underneath? I’m a little worried about chafing? I guess I just have no idea what’s causing this. I know it’s definitely not the draw it out liniment. There’s nothing bad in that. Do you think it’s all the icing?

I have never seen chafing caused by dry no-bows. I have seen a lot of irritation from wrapping over various potions. I don’t know how long a bowed tendon should be wrapped but it is my understanding that after the initial swelling subsides, after about two weeks, icing and cold hosing no longer help.

Has your vet ultrasounded the tendon to see exactly how much is torn?


Yes, and we confirmed it is a semi mild case.
I’ve had great luck with draw it out liniment in the past. I know why he lost some hair on his injured leg, because of the DMSO. My vet did not tell me that it could potentially cause a reaction, and I had no idea, so I have stopped using that on his injured leg.

The strange part is that on his injured leg, the big patch of hair that fell off from the DMSO, it’s actually been getting better and healing since I started the draw it out liniment underneath his wraps. But on his non-injured leg, something is causing a reaction.

I’m just trying to bounce ideas off of people! I really don’t know why my vet still wants me to ice his legs every day. No other website or forum I have been on has even mentioned continuing to do that passed a couple days or a week after the initial injury but I wonder if all the icing every day is not helping? I do know that you can over ice.

I’m confused. Why are you icing and wrapping his non-injured leg?

A couple of years ago my horse had some significant lacerations on his legs that I had to keep bandaged for a couple of months. The bandages started causing abrasions in places that had not originally been injured, so I wonder if the bandage is causing the hair loss on your horse. If I read your post correctly and the hair loss is on the non-injured leg I would stop bandaging and icing that leg unless your vet says otherwise.


My horse had a superficial digital flexor tendon injury and there was no wrapping or DMSO or liniments or topicals of any kind. Stall rest for 10 days and some cold hosing for the first couple of days and minimal hand walking/grazing. No treatment of front leg that wasn’t injured. He has a good brain so after 10 days he got turned out for a few months and then tack walking. Different vets have different approaches but that was my experience.

Yes, the new hair loss is on his non-injured leg. Just noticed it today.
The vet told me to do everything to his non-injured leg that I do to his injured leg. He told me to ice both of them and wrap both of them. He told me if it’s a muscular or skeletal injury, both legs should be wrapped. He said I need to support the non-injured leg because it is now the more dominant weight-bearing leg. That’s what he told me.


Icing is helpful for the first 48 hours. After that, don’t bother. If you feel that bandaging, and various potions applied have been a problem, just don’t do that any more. It won’t help anything anyway. More likely to do further damage with bandaging (bandage bow). If the tendon damage has scanned “mild”, what heals it is time, and exercise. Yes, exercise. Long slow exercise, increasing over time, NOT full stall rest for too long. If you allow the tendon to heal without some estimation of how much strain it will be under in the future, it’s more likely to recur. Too much stall rest can be counter productive. When you take the horse off stall rest, use tranquilizer, then don’t lock the horse in any more… leave him out. The worst time is the first time you release the horse… doing too much, too hard. So if he survives the first day out, leave him out. Don’t “baby” it too much. Read Tom Ivors’ book, “The Bowed Tendon Book”. It’s old now, but enlightening.

Don’t worry, tendon tears usually heal up well, it will be OK.

Thank you very much for the words of encouragement! I will look to see if Amazon has that book tonight. I’m sure you’ve heard this time and time again, this horse really is my reason for being. I have one of the best sports medicine vets in my area. But I just feel like I am kind of on my own with this, and it makes me a little bit nervous.
The first couple weeks, I got the swelling down instantly, and it stayed down. I made a horrible mistake of using his BOT quick wraps for literally one night, and his leg blew up the next day and stayed super swollen for another week. I was so discouraged and mad at myself.
His leg is still a bit swollen, but what I have read, it fluctuates when it comes to healing. I just wish I could keep the swelling down 100%.
I’m going to forgo the ice therapy from here on out. I kept questioning if it was really helping at this point or doing damage. My vet still says to do it, I just don’t feel like it’s the right thing to do at this point.
What do you think is causing him to miss a patch of hair and have it a little bit bloody on his non-injured leg?

Could be a “bandage bow”. Just a bruise from the bandage either being put on too tight, or if the leg swelled to make it too tight, causing damage. Don’t bandage stuff if you don’t have to. There is risk involved with applying a bandage to a horse’s leg. Don’t worry about the swelling you are seeing. It’s been scanned, nothing has changed. The inflammation (swelling) you see is necessary for healing.

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It is likely the warmth and dampness under the bandage plus liniment that is doing it. Icing is fine. Then let legs dry completely. Then dry no bow wraps only.

Eventually you will want to wean off of the wraps entirely. You might be getting there already. There will be a bit of a rebound effect with some stocking up after being under compression so long. Once you are through the acute phase, no need for bandages, particularly if you are experiencing any skin irritation also.