By Terri Rocovich
OK so I know that is quite a disjointed title (not unlike my life at the moment) but I could not come up with anything more eloquent. The purpose of today’s blog is to complain a little, ask for advice – a lot-, and declare the advanced state of vet medicine both a blessing and a curse.
Led injuries in performance horses are not just common; they are inevitable most of the time. Even with diligent, careful care, conditioning and training; jumpers and dressage horses often endure periods in their careers when they are rehabilitating from one sort of a leg injury or the other. The good news in all of this is that veterinary medicine in the past 10 years has taken great strides in diagnostic and treatment modalities. The bad news is that they come with a significant price tag and often vets can’t always agree as to what treatment to choose.
I, at the moment, am caught up in such a conundrum. My beloved little rescue horse Hank (who I was hoping would make it to the upper levels of Eventing) has apparently strained a suspensory ligament. As I have been told by many vets over the years, the suspensory ligament is the nemesis of the performance horse. It is one of the most common, one of the hardest to heal and the hardest to protect against a reoccurrence. So now to my dilemma; although the ultrasound clearly shows a strain and disruption of fibers in the ligament (but no core legion), after consulting 4 vets as to the best treatments options, I have received essentially 4 different opinions.
The first vet and the one who did the ultrasound; she recommended that we do the veterinary equivalent of throwing the kitchen sink at the injury. The kitchen sink entails harvested Stem cells, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), and grown stem cells injected at a later time. All of these wonderful veterinary advances come at the price of about $3 – 4,000. The second vet feels that since there is no core legion (actual tear or hole in the ligament) that stem cell injections are not indicated and she recommends shock wave treatments – a less expensive alternative at about $1,500. Vet #3 voted for harvested and grown stem cells but no PRP and vet #4 almost agreed with vet #2 but recommended that we do a contrast MRI to confirm the diagnosis since Hank did not go completely sound with blocking.
Confused? Yea, me too! So I am throwing it out to the universe. What experiences have you all had; good and bad. I want to do right my this horse; not only because I still think he has a promising career but also because I love him and want to give him every opportunity for life to get back to normal. Hank really likes his job and it breaks my heart every morning when I go to the barn and he looks at me as if to say “why aren’t you riding me any more??” He stands in his stall and watches me get the other horses out with the most perplexed sad look on his face. I am still giving him as much attention as I can, but he is still depressed and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I miss riding him.
I know that in time (probably a year) we will be back in the saddle; but I am scared of making the wrong decision as to the best course of treatment now. So I would appreciate any input and advice you all may have and any alternative or additional treatments that I have not thought of. Thanks to all!