While Eli and I had a good lesson a few Saturdays ago, we haven’t done much since. Storms rolled through on that Sunday so no riding. Due to my work schedule, I was not able to get on Eli until last Wednesday.
As soon as I picked up the trot on Wednesday evening, I knew something was really wrong. It felt like I was posting down into mush. He felt very lame on his right hind. I dismounted and put him on a longe line to see how he looked. Definitely lame, but it looked less dramatic than it felt. Small favors? For the next few days, I iced Eli’s right hind and poulticed it. Because he was definitely still off on Thursday night, I called the vet Friday morning to add Eli to a Monday appointment that was already scheduled with the vet for a few other horses.
But then on Saturday and Sunday, Eli actually looked pretty sound. But still … as I would wash poultice off Eli’s right hind, I noticed — and this was surreal, let me tell you — that Eli’s right hind fetlock on the outside looked BLUE through his white sock. Now, Eli has had bruising before, but he’s never been lame on the affected limb. And this was bruising I could easily see. Not ideal. I did let him in the round pen on Sunday just for a few minutes, mainly to let him roll, but that could have been a bad idea on my part … considering I didn’t know why he had been off yet.
I kept the Monday vet appointment. Eli may have looked okay jogging down the barn aisle, but something was not right.
When Eli jogged for the vet, he looked sound even to the vet. However, upon flexion, he jogged off lame. The vet decided to ultrasound Eli’s right hind, and sure enough found a tear. It’s a small tear, on the outside branch of his suspensory. So most immediately, Eli will be out for the summer, if not longer. I did not ask for a specific time frame, nor did the vet offer one other than “months”. It’s a soft tissue injury. It’s going to take as long as it takes, and this is not my first experience with a soft tissue injury, although this is the first time that I know of that Eli has had one. Which, for a 16-year-old jumping ex-racehorse, that seems like he’s had a pretty good run. That isn’t to say that every jumping horse WILL have a soft tissue injury, just to say that it’s not surprising. And ultimately it seems that Eli may have sustained this injury in turnout, anyway. And I can’t do much about that.
The next step in Eli’s treatment plan is keep icing the RH, keep wrapping the RH, and the vet will return next week to initiate PRP (platelet-rich plasma) and shockwave therapies. I have an open claim through Eli’s insurance, and my hope is that some of this will be covered (I am pretty sure they cover PRP specifically — after the deductible is met, they cover 75% of certain stuff). The vet also mentioned a newer therapy that uses amniotic fluid, so I am going to ask the adjuster about that option, too. However, it is basically double the cost of PRP and shockwave combined. If insurance doesn’t cover it, I will stick with the PRP and shockwave because those are the more familiar therapies with longer track records for success (and I am a public servant so I’m not exactly raking in the dough). If insurance covers it, I am 100% volunteering Eli to be a guinea pig for it.
Eli is cleared for hand walking only right now. He will be going on a daily sedative, at least for now. Hand walking only will be difficult for him mentally, and I don’t want him bouncing off his stall walls. I am taking this day to day.
I am pretty sure I can fill my barn time with plenty of tasks along with hand walking Eli. Over the longer run, however, I will be getting a little antsy about not riding, but I haven’t sorted out any kind of riding plan while Eli is off. Leasing a horse is out because I can only afford one. I am not too worried about this aspect of it yet, though. Talk to me again in June and I probably will be.
Riders don’t make riding plans based around whether or not their horses will ever get injured, of course, but the possibility is always there. Now that Eli is injured, or rather in the process of recovering from an injury, any plans I have are centered on Eli’s recovery. Beyond that, who knows?
I just want to add — as owners we cannot be diligent enough about advocating for our horses when something isn’t right. Imagine if once I saw Eli looked sound, I just shrugged it off and rode anyway? I could have complicated the injury and made it much worse. I am thankful to have caught this somewhat early. It’s bad enough as it is. So please, don’t ignore what your horse is trying to tell you, even if it seems minor. We have access to so many diagnostic tools and so many effective treatments in this day and age. There is no reason for much guesswork any more, not when it comes to our horses’ soundness and welfare.