“Think of Gen’s Leg Like…”

So when my Vet came out to give Gen his spring shots I wanted to talk to him about Gen’s leg. Even over 4 years after his injury it still will swell up sometimes. I worry about it. I mean, how many soft tendon injuries do you know that still swell up frequently years later without it being something bad? Well my vet sat me down and talked over Gen’s injury.

He did such a good job of it that I wanted to explain it to all of you the same way in the hopes that some of you might understand my Gennyral a little better…

In 2007 Gen bowed his tendon. Instead of healing, his body attacked the injury. He had two rounds of stem cells and one round of platelets. His tendon grew back with the help of modern medicine, but it didn’t grow back into a perfectly normal healthy tendon.

Think of a horses tendon as a bungie rope. It had a lot of give and take to it, but it also has a normal length that it is happiest at. Gen’s leg is like a bungie that has been stretched all the way out so it is warped. You know what I am talking about. Like a hair elastic or rubber band that went too far and can’t go back to the way it was. There is still a little stretch, but not as much as with a healthy leg.

Add to that the fact that when he regrew the tendon it didn’t grow back up all solid and nice. That warped bungie has a lot of knots in it. Like that rope in the picture…

The fact that it grew back bigger and thicker is both a good thing and a bad thing. The bad thing is that it is extra strain. the good thing is that when Gen is stupid and does too much and a little piece of the rope tears there is still a lot of knot left holding the tendon together. My vet called them micro tears. So those times when his leg swells it is indeed his tendon tearing, but it just tearing a teeny, tiny little bit and there is enough stuff around as to not really impact the leg. Just like if you cut one of those knots out in the picture you would’t untangle the whole rope.

Is Gen’s leg good? No. Is it healthy? Not even close. Has it healed itself the best way that it can? Absolutely.

So my takeaway is not to worry about the little swellings and flair ups. They will keep happening for as long as Gen lives. There is nothing I can do about that so there is no need stress about it. Sure, at some point the whole thing might snap, but I can do things to try and control that like not letting Gen into a ring with deep footing, keeping him in a reasonable sized field and trying not to have him do hills (I know, I am kind of sucky at that one because he lives on hill), and keeping him as quiet as possible (hence the fact that my social horse goes out alone and can only play on the fence line).

I hope that explains his injury a little better.

5 thoughts on ““Think of Gen’s Leg Like…”

  1. This is a great explanation. Do you and I have the same vet because this sounds like something mine would say. Ozzy has an old bow that still swells sometimes (another reason not to compete him any more). I need to take you to Bluestone and show you their mare, Boo Boo. It’s amazing what horses can survive with long term.

    • I agree – it is amazing what horses can survive! Here’s my rescue mare, happily playing in the dirt. Notice the leg which isn’t bent much… that’s because it doesn’t bend any more than it is in this photo.
      You can get an idea why from this photo – the muscles and tendons are severed along the outside of her right forearm because sometime before she was rescued she got caught in barbed wire and was left untreated. That lump is the end of the muscle where it curled up, and there’s only bone under the skin below it.
      She will never be ridden, but she lives a happy life. She can only play with other horses on fencelines for her own safety, since she can’t move laterally to avoid oncoming hooves in normal horseplay, but I won’t keep her locked in to keep her from possibly causing herself more damage. She moves that leg from the shoulder, basically, and can run and buck like crazy! She actually outsprints my OTTB regularly when they have races.

      Great description of what’s up with Gen – thanks for sharing it! Sounds like you have a great vet!

  2. He is lucky to have you take care of him and totally on top of what he needs. Lots of horses would just be turned out and ignored. The only bad thing is all the baths. Every time I turn around. poor Gen is getting ANOTHER bath! Your are gonna wash him away! lol

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