PBEC Success Story: Treating All of the Factors

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BY Amanda Picciotto Feitosa / Jump Media

Horses can injure themselves when you least expect it – sometimes even when they are not being exercised. That was the case for amateur rider Kelly Berry, who is based in Georgia, and her 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Sunny. Unfortunately, Sunny suffered a lateral collateral ligament injury in the pasture, necessitating eight months of rest. Berry thought they had done everything necessary to help Sunny return to shining form, but after coming back into work, Sunny was not able to stay consistently sound for longer than a month or two at a time.

After trying various treatment strategies, it seemed like Berry was running out of options. Still, she was determined to help Sunny regain his show hunter career. Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist Dr. Fernando J. Marqués, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM, Diplomate ACVSMR, of Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC) in Wellington, FL, was called upon to provide a consult. He used x-rays and ultrasound to investigate the source of the problem and followed up with nerve blocks to confirm his diagnosis.

“When Dr. Marqués met Sunny, the exam was very comprehensive,” recalled Berry. “He spent a great deal of time with Sunny watching him and talking me through the process of what he was seeing.”

“I saw from the imaging that Sunny had significant pronounced osteoarthritis on the distal interphalangeal joints in both front legs,” explained Dr. Marqués. “I then followed up with nerve blocks because sometimes you find pathologies on imaging, but that might not be what the problem is. It might seem clear, but sometimes you can be amazed that what you see on ultrasound or x-ray is not what is causing the issue at the moment. We had to make sure we knew exactly where the problem was coming from and get a more accurate diagnosis before moving forward.”

Once Dr. Marqués was satisfied with his findings, he came up with a treatment plan for Sunny. First, he provided intra-articular therapy (joint injections) to Sunny’s coffins and navicular bursae. Then, he proceeded with meso-therapy, which involves using small needles to inject the mesoderm level of the skin with products to help with the relaxation and pain relief of the muscles. Finally, Dr. Marqués discussed therapeutic farriery with both Berry and her farrier to better balance Sunny’s feet in order to optimally support his body in work.

“We needed to be sure to treat all the factors,” shared Dr. Marqués of Sunny’s recovery plan. “You have to take care of the joint problem, the muscular problem, and put the forces in the feet the way they should be. That way, when the horse receives forces from the ground up, those forces are evenly distributed and they don’t induce further damage in the joints.

“A good veterinarian and farrier relationship is key in these cases as well,” he continued. “We need to have good communication and good teamwork. I spoke with Kelly’s farrier and discussed the principles that we wanted to achieve. When working with any farrier, I might suggest something, but then I hear what the farrier has to say because they know their job. After that, we come up with the final plan together.”

Following treatment, Sunny started back on the road to recovery. Within two weeks he had returned to work under saddle, but he still needed time to build up muscle strength and tendon strength. Little by little, he continued to progress.

“Sunny was on the brink of retirement as we felt like we had exhausted all options, and Dr. Marqués was my last hope,” expressed Berry. “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried that his treatment plan wouldn’t work, but Dr. Marqués was with me through the entire process and instilled a lot of confidence in me.”

Berry and Sunny have since returned to the show ring, bringing home numerous ribbons and continuing to enjoy their hunter conquests together.

“I am forever grateful for Dr. Marqués,” said Berry. “He has given me my horse back, and we have made memories that would never have been possible without him! I feel so lucky to have Dr. Marqués on my team and to call him our veterinarian.”

If you or your veterinarian would like to learn more about Palm Beach Equine Clinic and how it can help your horse, make an appointment at 561-793-1599 or learn more at www.EquineClinic.com.