What’s the Going Rate on a Torn Suspensory?

I had to teach my phone “suspensory” is actually what I mean to type.

First, if Eli were ever going up for sale, obviously this post would not exist. But he’s not. And second, I am not putting hard numbers on anything here (which may be a disappointment but it’s not happening). This post is more the experience of a torn suspensory, not the price. Although it would have been “fun,” if I had veterinary invoices from the late 90s/early 2000s, to compare them to the invoices now. This, you see, is not my first experience with a soft tissue injury in a horse. I had a little black jumper that actually sustained a few over the course of his career while I owned him.

Eli is pretty good at goofy faces

Soft tissue injuries suck. They did in the late 90s, and they do now. Some things have changed, others haven’t.

The first thing that’s the same is that the presentation of a soft tissue injury can be tricky. Eli came up lame, so I didn’t ride him and I iced the offending limb, and in a few days he was jogging sound. I kept the vet appointment anyway, and I am glad I did. This was very similar to my previous experience with soft tissue injuries — the little black jumper would look sound going straight but would take a slightly lame step upon turning a particular direction. So even if your horse looks mostly kind of sound at least part of the time, take the time to investigate it. You could save your horse from a more severe injury.

Another similarity is the diagnostic tool — ultrasound. Have confidence that your vet can read that crap. I have 110% confidence in Eli’s vet, which is good, because ultrasound images look like white noise and little black blobs to me. I guess maybe the resolution looked slightly better this time around than what it looked like in the late 90s? Maybe?

the towel in the background is actually grossing me out a little

So here come the differences. While it is possible to just ice and wrap and rest (and rest and rest) a soft tissue injury without going beyond that, the therapies have evolved over the years. Thankfully. I have no idea when shockwave and PRP became available for treating these injuries in horses, but it did not seem to be an option in the late 90s for my little black horse, for whatever reason. For Eli, the option exists and I am taking advantage of it. It means the cost of treating the injury goes up, but if it gives him a better chance to heal well, then it’s worth it, right? Eli has other options, too, but I am sticking with what I think his major medical insurance will cover. I don’t know, yet, if they will, but this seemed like a fairly common treatment path so we are on it. If I get reimbursed for some of it, then that’s awesome.

I am ultimately not willing to divulge here just exactly what’s on the invoices I’m sending to Eli’s insurance because financial matters are not something I like to put on display to the public. However, if you are going through the same thing and would like to privately commiserate, I’m easy to reach. I even toyed with the idea of adding up ALL of the invoices on Eli over the course of my ownership, but I pretty quickly nixed that because apparently for the first year of ownership I didn’t bother keeping invoices. I started when Eli had the tooth/sinus stuff going on, and THAT right there adds up to more than I care to consider. To me, Eli’s worth the vet bills regardless. But if you are new to horse ownership, and perhaps thoroughbred ownership specifically, I urge you to consider being prepared for vet bills; sometimes some major ones are inevitable. Even routine maintenance and things like vaccinations can add up over the course of a year, so know going in you have to spend money on vet bills as long as you own a horse. Board or feed, shoeing, and veterinary care can cost just as much for a $1,000 horse as it can for a $100,000 horse. If you can’t commit to the monthly expenses, reconsider horse ownership.

Can some horses roll their tongues while others can’t?

And back to the last similarity? Time. As far as I know, no treatment accelerates the healing process, and soft tissue injuries take a really. long. time. to heal. What has given me some hope, is that hand walking is allowed in Eli’s case from the beginning. And the treatments Eli is getting will hopefully help his tissue heal in such a way that it isn’t too much weaker than his healthy tissue. I haven’t asked for a big picture timetable yet, other than “months.” I just kind of go from one appointment to the next and do whatever Eli’s vet advises. It seems to make me less neurotic about it. I also haven’t even considered how this could possibly affect Eli’s “career.” I am not sure how important that is. I want Eli to be comfortable — he likes turnout and he seems to enjoy having a job, which isn’t much of a stretch to imagine if you are at all familiar with thoroughbreds. But it doesn’t really matter to me what his job is. I am going to take care of him as best as I can no matter what.

So we are rehabbing this summer instead of showing! That’s how it goes with horses.

It’s also apparently monsoon season in Texas, so we’d be hand walking right now, anyway. Mother Nature likes to rain on Austin especially during rush hour …

9 thoughts on “What’s the Going Rate on a Torn Suspensory?

  1. ugh i feel for you so much. I am glad Eli is so entertaining at least. I hope he is back at it sooner rather than later (even to be able to be walked under tack would be nice right)….

    And just pour a nice glass of wine and ignore all those invoices 😉

    We are having rain again too. Weather is a fickle bitch!! Have a great weekend!


  2. Poor Eli! Soft tissue injuries are the *worst* but hopefully insurance takes the sting out of some of those invoices. 🤞 Taking it a day at the time is definitely the way to go.

    This rain, though. The other day I drove home on auto-pilot and forgot about the low water crossing and sure enough, it was flooded. Had to turn around and go the long way. And how is it that it ALWAYS STARTS at 4:30pm? We’re cursed.


  3. YES! The horse can be given to you FREE but you still have all the same bills to pay. And you are right to say that if you cannot manage this then do NOT get a horse. I had shock wave on a horse when he tore a suspensory. He recovered well and went on to compete at PSG in dressage. The rain is here too. We have had flooding to the north of us and to the east.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Even “free” horses are NOT free!

      I am really impressed so far with the results of the shockwave — it has done wonders for the inflammation. Eli has no heat or swelling left.

      The rain is crazy! It’s almost like a rain forest, with rain every afternoon.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. James R. Rooney’s unfortunately out of print book The Lame Horse is blunt about the amount of time it takes soft tissue injuries to heal. Since he was founding head of the prestigious Gluck foundation that researches lameness and locomotion in (race) horses I believe him when he says 9 months.


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