horse tendinitis, urticaria, pet health
and welfare educational for animal lovers, excerpts from The Glamorous Vets,
Singapore, sponsored by AsiaHomes Internet.
The horse has swollen tendons
This was one of those few handsome and tall geldings I had seen in Singapore which is not a horse country. He commanded attention and you would have taught that he would be dangerous as he was so big and strong compared to the Owner who was just above his shoulder level.
He suffered a swollen left fore tendon after exercise. Nobody knew the exact cause of the severe injury to the left fore tendon which was swollen and painful the next day. The stable manager called me to attend to it immediately.
Two anti-inflammatory injections on two days brought the swelling of the left fore tendon down by 90%. The Owner was to rest the horse for four weeks. That meant controlled walking and definitely no trotting for at least four weeks. Although twelve weeks would be better, this was not practical for horse lovers.
The stable manager applied an anti-swelling poultice, a clay like substance to warm up the tendon to encourage healing as the heat brought in blood. A stable hand was restraining the horse for him. The horse reared as the poultice touched its skin. Was the poultice so potent? The stable hand held on firmly to the head collar. Would the horse kick any one of us? The Owner and I were also in the stable stall and it was getting crowded.
"Perhaps, you should stop smoking," the Owner said diplomatically. "The smoke might have caused the horse to rear up?" The stable manager and his helper had no reply and continued puffing and completed the job in a short while.
The horse did not kick. He was really a gentle giant.
The right fore tendon had no injury but the Owner was advised to use the apply the anti-swelling poultice by the stable manager. The horse disliked the poultice and bit an area, getting its nostrils muddy with grey poultice. The Owner was definitely a horse lover as she used a tissue paper to gently wipe off the poultice as gently as a mother would wipe off the baby's bottom.
The picture above was taken on day 3. I was called to attend to the swelling. The swollen tendon was not so obvious and slight pain was still present at the lower third of the tendons (arrow). The clay was washed off and the Owner's pre-teen son applied a new cover of poultice on a bright Sunday morning after washing off the old clay. The gelding was frisky as he thought he was going for a run.
I thought this gelding would recover uneventfully and would become a champion jumper.
There were two fresh skin wounds of 5mm in diameter to the side of the tendon (left of the arrow). It was possible that the horse had bitten this area which could be itchy and warm as the tendon tissues healed.
On day five, the Owner release the horse in a lunging ring, a circular area with sand. This was a place where the horse was to run in circles while the Owner held onto the rope.
This magnificent gelding was so excited and happy. It rolled in the sand and ran round the ring several times as free as the wind, according to one observer. The gelding came from a European country where he had much open space.
The next morning, the left fore tendon became swollen. Further up, above and in front of the knee, there was another swelling of the extensor tendon. The horse was acutely lame. The anti-swelling poultice was applied on both lower limbs again. "There were many lumps on his body and a swelling above his left knee too," the observant Owner said on her mobile.
"You must promise not to let the gelding run free for the next four weeks," I said to the Owner. "Controlled walking which means there must be a person leading the horse is important as anti-inflammatory drugs cannot be used frequently and the horse would develop a bow tendon if he suffered more injuries."
"Why is there a need for warm poultice and cooling ice packs on the tendons as they seem to contradict each other?" the Owner asked. I had suggested icing the tendons immediately after the injury.
"Immediately after the injury, the ice packs should be used to bring down the heat and swelling of inflammation, but it is used for 10 minutes." I explained. "Later on, the anti-swelling poultice warms up the leg to encourage blood vessels to bring in the cells to repair the tendon. It is traditionally used to bring down the tendon swelling."
"Why would the horse inflict injuries onto himself?" the Owner asked. "Would a tendon scan be of any use?" The Owner had printed a report from the Internet of the musculo-skeletal problems of jumpers.
On the second day, the swelling had gone down. The Owner requested another treatment. "Why would a horse exert himself knowing he had just suffered a serious tendon injury?" the Owner asked me.
"The horse cannot understand the need to rest," I replied. "The scan would not be useful at the moment. Palpation of the tendon by me had indicated where he was sore and the scan would not be able to tell that."
It was important to educate Owners who nowadays have finger-tip information from the internet and may get the wrong information. I lifted up the left fore leg and pressed the flexor tendon. The horse felt the pain from the mid to lower half of the tendon. He was also swollen and sore in the extensor tendons in the front and above the knee (see arrows in the picture above).
I guess the gelding must have over flexed its sore left fore tendon, felt the pain and over extended its upper tendon of its upper arm causing it to be swollen. Nobody really knew how it had happened.
Once he was given freedom, it was natural and instinctive for him to run as fast as he could. He was born free in the European country where he was born and had participated in many jumping events. Nobody could stop him this tornado.
The stable manager was shaking his head in sorrow when he heard about the new injury. He was a horseman who rode every day and could not bear to see horses in pain or in lameness.
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