Suspensories... support during this trying time [and advice]

I thought we’d gotten lucky.

With an old sesamoid injury, it left my horse open to future injuries regarding her suspensories.

I had an interview last night, so she got a day off. Tuesday, I saw no issues with swelling/heat in her fetlocks, just like any other time. However, today, when i got up to the barn to give her feet a once over, her right front (named the “bad leg”) was significantly swollen, and running my hand down her leg, i felt her outside tendon…

… but not the inside.

It seems to be hidden within her leg. That sent my mental fire-alarms off.


there is NO lameness. The swelling is around the fetlock (will get pictures). She is not in pain. I did not know it was a suspensory injury until i researched just now, so I did ride her last night. She jumps perfect (we don’t jump high - 2’3 and lower), but I could tell something was wrong because she did not seem “as willing” as she usually is.

Bills are tight, and there is no money in the budget to call the vet for an ultrasound which would be the most ideal. My home remedy is to give her stall rest for the first week, re-assess, and if no better, a month off/until i can gather enough money to call the vet.

I feel absolutely awful. Is there hope? Or should I be on the floor bawling my eyes out?

I’m so scared.

ok. upon further investigation and research, it’s not a tear. a strain, possibly, or a sprain, but because she isn’t showing pain-related symptoms, the future is hopeful. giving her stall rest still.

You still don’t know that it’s a suspensory injury, so I wouldn’t make yourself nuts about it. It could be a teeny tiny puncture wound. It could be that she banged it on something. It could be lots of other things which don’t necessarily need or benefit from stall rest. If you can’t get the vet out, I would send them a picture and see if they have any advice. At least ice or cold hose it and maybe give Bute for a few days to reduce inflammation.

If you were to do an ultrasound the vet would thank you for giving the horse a week’s rest and treatment to bring down the inflammation. Excessive inflammation can interfere with the ultrasound picture of what is going on.

(I learned this when my horse injured his suspensory and I cold hosed and poultice wrapped for a week prior to having the vet see him.)

You will find a myriad of levels of success with suspensory stories, if it is indeed that.

I’ve had two that have hurt suspensories: one almost entirely blew out his RH, with almost complete separation from the sesamoid. He was labeled a complete retiree case by one vet, and I was told to euth by another. But I was young and stubborn at the time, so I ended up doing 4 months of strict stall rest (at which point he wanted to murder anyone and everyone, he was so unhappy) and finally threw all caution to the wind and put him on 24/7 “turnout” in a 24x24 packed dirt paddock for almost a year. 18 months after the initial injury, I started rehab, and he stayed serviceably sound and rideable for almost 12 years until I put him down at age 31.

The second was my current mare, who had a proximal suspensory strain a few years ago in an accident. Also recovered completely, no issues stemming from that injury (although she has a number of other physical problems).

That said, there are very few soft tissue injuries for which it would be a detriment to limit movement and apply cold therapies, so if a vet visit isn’t in the cards just yet, I don’t think you can go wrong by doing a week or two of stall rest/limited turnout and cold hosing or icing.

Don’t shave years off your life by going all gloom and doom just yet :winkgrin: There’s plenty of “survivor stories” out there of gnarly soft tissue injuries from those who came out the other side with sound, rideable horses. The fact that your horse was sound and not showing significant pain responses is a very, very good sign.

Don’t panic, but be prudent. Stall rest while it’s acute is not a bad idea, but if your horse will be reasonably quiet in turnout but psychotic in the stall, turn her out. Especially in this first week you want to bring down any inflammation. When she’s in, and when you hand walk her, wrap her. Under that wrap, for the first week, you can alternate a poultice one day and a sweat the next (if you’re out at the barn twice a day, you can do 12 hours poultice, 12 hours sweat.) In my experience, if there’s not a lot of swelling after the first week, the sweat doesn’t continue to be beneficial, but the poultice may and the standing bandage will. Ice for 20 minutes as many times a day as you like (get a couple of reusable gel cold packs and polo-wrap them to her legs.)

Frankly, if I suspected I had a soft tissue injury and I couldn’t have the vet out immediately, I would plan to rest and walk only until the vet saw the horse. Soft tissue takes a lot of time to heal properly, and even if the mare looked fantastic in a week, I would be very loath to start her back in work and potentially aggravate an injury. So in your shoes I would plan on that month off, at least. You might talk to your vet about diagnostics other than ultrasound. If it looks like a suspensory and it palpates like a suspensory, you have a good idea of what you’re dealing with even without taking pictures.

We are in the same situation ! My mare was not lame but a small but still significant bump appeared on her upper tendon. My mare is a 6 yr old OTTB.
Here’s what I did and am doing:

  • called vet and emailed photos of all angles. Vet agreed that to know for sure would require ultrasound but since I’m currently paying my school tuition (I pay community college out of pocket), we could treat as sprain/tear.
    -limited her turn out to paddock only. She would be a nut case on stall rest.
  • hand walk
    -poultice every couple days and wrap
    -no bute/ anti inflammatory

Vet said it was a check tendon injury but either way, my first horse had a suspensory injury and he recovered 100% so I’m just being patient.
I plan on ultrasounding soon to see progress/ direction of healing.

Take a deep breath, we will survive this together !!!