Meet Risky. She is one of my all time favorite patients. Risky is a 12 year old Morgan mare who I met in August of 2013 when she likely took a risk trying to get to some greener grass on the far side of a fence and wound up with a couple of pretty good lacerations on her hindlimb.
When Risky came to the hospital it was clear that she had completely transected both her long digital extensor and lateral digital extensor tendon. The job of these muscles and associated tendons is to extend the toe, which prevents the horse from knuckling over at the fetlock joint. Without these tendons, Risky was having difficulty placing her foot and walking, and really had to hobble in on three limbs. In addition to the tendon injuries, Risky’s wound was several hours old at the time she was found and so it was a bloody, contaminated mess.
As bad as it looks, Risky was really lucky for a couple of reasons. First, the wound was located on the dorsal, or front aspect of the limb. Had the injury happened on the plantar, or back side of the limb, our chances of saving her would have been much, much lower. The other thing Risky had going for her was that her wounds were not near a joint. Joint infections in horses are very serious and potentially life-threatening, any time a laceration occurs near a joint, it should be looked at by a veterinarian right away.
Risky was initially treated with a wet to dry pressure bandage to debride the wound and bring down the inflammation. She was also started on antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Several types of splints were used until we found one that was comfortable for Risky that she walked well with and tolerated well. Risky’s wound was also treated with PRP – platelet rich plasma – which is a regenerative medicine that involves harvesting a small amount of Risky’s blood then concentrating some components of it that may aid in wound healing and applying it directly to the wound.
Little by little, we saw improvement with her wound. The most important thing Risky needs is simply time to allow her tendons to scar down so that her limb functions normally and for the skin to close.
Risky’s owners have been extremely committed to her care and have been very diligent in the wound cleaning and bandaging, managing Risky’s periods of exercise and confinement, and keeping her a happy horse until she can go back to her normal routine with her herdmates.
Although Risky will always have a couple of scars, we expect her to make a complete and full recovery. We look forward to seeing Risky being ridden this summer! See our facebook page for more photos and check back for updates on her progress.