Since I am pre-loading most of my entries while I am off pet sitting I figured I would talk about stuff I know. I have treating a tendon injury down. I wish I had no experience with it, but what I know about superficial digital flexor tendons could fill a book. Since I have noticed that many people who find this blog are looking for information on how to treat a trauma to the tendon I figure I will go through step by step what to do when a tendon emergency occurs.
Now I am not a medical professional. CALL YOU VET IF YOU SUSPECT AN INJURY! I am just a horse owner who has been through a bad tendon injury so take my advise with a grain of salt.
How can you tell it is a tendon injury? Most likely the horse will be limping. They will be able to put weight on the leg so you know it is most likely not a break, and you will feel a hot spot on there tendon. When Genny first hurt his tendon there was a bump on the back of his leg where the tendon was and it was hot. The first thing you need to do is to get the horse into a safe location. Either a wash stall or there own stall. In the first 72 hours I was told that the less movement my horse had the better. I counted his steps every day and made sure he took as few as possible.
Now call you vet! Once the horse is safe inside talk to the vet as soon as possible. Every vet likes things to be done differently so make sure you follow your vets guidelines. My vet told me to give Genny a half a dose Banamine since he was in such bad pain. He could hardly walk in under his own power from the field.
Right off the bat you should apply ice or cold horse the leg for 10 minutes to try and control as much swelling as possible. There are articles claiming that iceing is better than cold hosing and vice versa. I personally liked cold hosing because it make me feel like I was doing something. I would ice when the weather was really cold or rainy (I didn’t want to flood the wash stall) but cold hosing is just my own personally preference.
Now it is time for a very messy job. Poultice. It is a clay like substance you can by at any local tack store. I have literally used over 7 gallons of poultice on Genny’s leg since the injury so while I recommend keeping a small tub around at all time if you suspect an injured tendon you might want to buy the big tub. I used 3 different kinds, they all worked about the same way. Uptight was the brand that was the least wet so if you don’t want to get messy you might want to consider that one. You should also have news paper handy. Before you poultice the leg tear the news paper into a section large enough to cover the injured area and then some.
To apply the poultice you should have a layer that is thick enough to cover the hair but thin enough so it will dry out in a few hours. If you glob it on there very heavily you wont be sucking the heat out of the leg, only trapping it in to bake. If you do it to thin it wont be able to get all the heat out. After the poultice is on take your news paper out and cover the clay so no poultice is sticking out.
After poultice has been applied you need to get a wrap on ASAP. If you have never done a stable bandage before in your life I hate to say it but this is really not a good time for you to start. You can do more damage then good if you wrap incorrectly. If you think your horse has a tendon injury and you do no know how to wrap call a friend, trainer, or vet to come out and do it for you the first time and teach you. I don’t care if you live in the middle of no where and don’t think anyone can come out. Page your vet, call the local training facility, go to the tack store, just find anyone with experience wrapping.
If you have never wrapped a stable bandage before you really ought to practice now, with a healthy horse and an experienced person to help you out. I just cannot stress enough how dangerous wrapping is if you are out of practice or unsure what you are doing. Now assuming you know how to wrap you should have the correct supplies. The vet at the local horsey hospital, a tendon specialist who has people come from all over the east coast to see her, isn’t a fan of no-bows. I bought them when Genny was first injured but I just didn’t like them so I never used them. Hearing her agree with me that they are not the best made me take them and throw them away. Now they are fine for shipping I am sure, but I personally would not use them for an injury.
My personal preference for quilts is a quilt that is not to fluffy but not to thin. A local tack store had a brand called “The Mill Crossing” I think it was that I really liked. I also am a fan of champion quilts. I have 8 pairs of quilts now, all different brands, but those are my 2 favorites. Now you can use knit or synthetic stable bandages. NEVER USE POLO WRAPS WITH QUILTS. EVER. Polo wraps are flexible to give support when a horse is moving like when it is riding. If you have an injured horse you do not want a wrap that gives that much because you are trying to contain the swelling with pressure. I personally like knits, but that is probably just because that is what I am used to and what I learned to wrap with, and I do have both so synthetics were used on occasion.
Once you have your horses legs (you only have to poultice the injured one but make sure you wrap both legs. You wouldn’t like to walk around with one shoe on all day) put the horse back in the stall and make sure they have access to plenty of hay and water. Get a vet out to ultra sound the injured area as soon as possible. If they cannot make it out until the following day you should repeat the cold hose/ice, poultice, wrap routine at minimum every 12 hours. If you go longer then that not only will you have icky wraps but your horse might start playing with them causing bandage bows.
So that concludes my mini-tutorial on how to deal with a tendon emergency. Any questions/thoughts/opinions?