I definitely feel like another title for this post could be The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, but we’ll get into that shortly.
The best news in the world is that he is standing on all 4 legs, and came out of anesthesia, albeit a little too eagerly, but intact (bar a small rub on his eyelid). When I got that call yesterday morning, that’s all I had ears for.
Backing up a bit- before surgery itself, the surgeon wanted a few more radiographs of the fetlock as well as the ultrasound the soft tissue in the area to determine if there is any damage to the suspensory. The good news is the suspensory ligament looks good, but because of something seen on the scope, she will also be ultrasounding the collateral ligaments as well today. Hopefully nothing, but it’s good to check.
In surgery itself, they were able to take out the bone chip that was associated with the cyst (good), but the cyst itself was out of reach (bad) unless we wanted to crack the joint open like a walnut (not happening). That cyst is now pretty much the bane of Foster’s current existence, as they were able to confirm that has caused a fairly significant scoreline in the surrounding cartilage and will eventually (likely) become a situation where little-to-none cartilage remains.
The Recovery and Treatment
The schedule for the next few months looks as follows:
- Two weeks strict stall rest with 15 minute grazing sessions
- Stitches are removed, joint is injected with HA
- He can now start being handwalked for 15-20 minutes
- 4 weeks post surgery: Tildren or OsPhos drip (also could happen post-IRAP)
- anyone have experience with either of these??
- 6 weeks post surgery: Start IRAP injections
- 3 separate injections on a weekly schedule
- 8 weeks post surgery: limited turnout (must be quiet, no running)
- Introduce tack walking
- 12 weeks post surgery: slowly introducing trot sets until back in full work (instructions to follow the Pony Club manual)
AKA- what does my horse’s future looks like? Well, in some ways it’s a pretty big question mark. Only time will tell how the cyst will develop. If the following treatment is able to stop it in its tracks right now, great. If it continues to develop and tear up the cartilage, his future as a sporthorse looks somewhat bleak. Worse case scenario he loses about 10% of the cartilage in the joint.
As far as the main doctor there thinks (side note: he also assisted in the surgery; I was thrilled since everyone and the internet sings his praises- awesome!), he could likely continue a career as a low level eventer for some time (though how long we won’t know). Low level being defined at Novice/Training horse trials, and Prelim Combined Training (dressage + stadium only) events. This is great, because Preliminary CT’s have only ever been my goal with this horse, or really any horse.
What limits Foster is obviously concussion to his joint, so lots of galloping, jumping great heights or lots of tall cross country drops are not recommended. No one can guarantee a time frame for eventing, and it was made clear to me that if he can’t event (due to being uncomfortable) there is no reason why he couldn’t become either a dressage horse or a show hunter (Dr’s words). This is fine news with me, since my plan was always to eventually focus on dressage with him and hopefully pursue that bronze medal and beyond.
Likely, we will always be looking at some kind of maintenance with the fetlock, probably in the form of IRAP injections. And as far as the future goes, only time and Foster will tell us that.