Inside the Bandage

Last night I changed Foster’s bandage for the first time since he left the hospital, and marked another first in my horseperson belt of experiences. Getting the old bandage off was an absolute act of God, since my bandage scissors did didley-squat to get through all those layers. I resorted to using regular scissors, and still struggled, and will be getting myself a razor blade for the next time- now I understand why the surgeon used that approach. Silly me.

For others out there who are likewise uninitiated in the post-surgical wrapping of a fetlock, here is how you bandage a Fosterpants.

old bandage

Break a sweat getting old bandage off. Thank horse for neither mutilating you as you wage war on his appendage, and for standing like a statue as you search for angles that will allow you to cut into the bandage while not further injuring said horse or falling on your backside like a twit.

Post surgery fetlock

Admire one heavily shaved Frankenfoster foot.


Add small pile of gauze sponges over each surgical site. Try not to think about those surgical sites.

post surgery wrap

Wrap the ankle in cast padding to secure the gauze in place. Wonder if you have used enough cast padding. Check video of surgeon’s wrap, twice, to be sure.


Take thick sheet cotton and wrap the leg from knee to hoof, a la standing-wrap style. Worry over the fact that cotton does not roll onto the leg smoothly.


Add vet wrap, keeping everything nice and snug underneath. Have internal debate about “snug” versus “too-tight”. Finally remember that the surgeon said it’s tough to go too tight on vet wrap.


Roll on elastikon from top of bandage to bottom, attaching to the heel bulb for security. Loathe the fact that you use a whole roll each time, and these suckers cost almost $10 each. What are they made of, dreams and stardust?


End with a freshly bandaged, albeit somewhat lumpy looking Fosterpants.


Then try not to think about doing it all over again in another 2-3 days.

Post Surgery News

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.

Foster checking out his diggs at the hospital

Foster checking out his diggs at the hospital

The Surgery
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 site of the surgery

The site of the surgery

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)
Getting his vitals checked post-surgery

Getting his vitals checked post-surgery

The Prognosis
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.