‘This means everything’: 23-year-old mare overcomes two major injuries to return to work

  • The owner of a 23-year-old mare who has twice fought back from career-threatening injuries said it means “everything” to have her happy and in work again.

    Lindsey Templeman’s Anglo Arab Summer Day had been “remarkably accident- and problem-free” in the 15 years she had owned her, until she suffered badly damaged ligaments in an accident last year.

    Lindsey told H&H Summer had been moved into a paddock containing a tractor and trailer.

    “She must have gone round the back of it,” Lindsey said. “She doesn’t look for trouble so I think one of the others must have wandered round and blocked her exit, and where the trailer narrowed, she must have thought ‘I can jump that’, but she caught her stifle on the two metal bits.”

    The resulting cuts seemed superficial and although there was swelling, Summer was sound.

    “The lameness didn’t come for a week or so,” Lindsey said. “Where she caught her leg, she must have twisted as she tried to get free, and had damaged two ligaments.”

    Lindsey was told there was a “strong chance” Summer would not recover. She was on box or small-paddock rest for 12 weeks, after which Karolina Kalka, of Seadown Equine vets, was not happy with her progress.

    “Karolina said this [polyacrylamide] gel was the only thing that might make a difference, but there was no guarantee,” Lindsey said. “She only had about 5ml injected into the stifle — and I was riding her about six weeks later. I was trotting her and Karolina said ‘You’d never have known there was anything wrong with her’.”

    Lindsey and Summer enjoyed a winter and spring of riding, until this June.

    “I suddenly thought something wasn’t right,” Lindsey said. “I thought it might be because of her age but when Karolina scanned her, she said ‘Oh goodness. How much do you want to spend?’ Her suspensory ligament had several lesions, and Karolina said if we left it, it could fail.”

    Lindsey was given a less than 50% chance of Summer returning to work at her previous level. The mare was rested in a small paddock, as she had not coped well with box rest, and the decision was made to treat her with stem-cell therapy.

    But when two shipments of the cells were unusable as they had got too warm in transit, the vet used IRAP (Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein) instead.

    This is a system used to obtain multiple anti-inflammatory and regenerative proteins from a patient’s blood, and Seadown bought the necessary equipment as there was no facility nearby.

    “The IRAP was always the next best option but when Karolina scanned Summer, she found she’d started healing by herself, with no treatment; even without box rest, it was straight and everything looked healthy,” Lindsey said. “She injected the IRAP into the lesions and whatever it was we did, it worked amazingly.”

    Summer is now back to hacking, and short canters, with no swelling or evidence of any issues.

    “This is a 23-year-old mare who’s had two major injuries, and normally the rule is six months’ box rest but she went straight out,” Lindsey said. “It begs the question: is box rest the right way to deal with these injuries? The vet said she’d healed far beyond what she’d have expected even in a young horse.”

    Lindsey praised her “amazing” vet, who went “above and beyond” throughout, to get Summer right and keep the cost down.

    “She’s almost back to normal now and it means everything,” she said. “I don’t think you realise; you take for granted things like riding in the forest, until, twice for me, I’ve realised it might all be taken away.

    “I’m 60 now and she’ll be my last horse, and I hate the idea of her being stuck in a field, but I can tell from the way she moves that she’s feeling really good.

    “She looks brilliant, and I’m extremely lucky. Summer is my one in a million horse and she deserved every possible chance.”

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