Dixie Kendall was preparing to ramp up her off-track Thoroughbred’s conditioning as she looked ahead to their upcoming endurance competition season. Thoroughbreds aren’t the most popular breed for endurance — they have feet that tend not to hold up as well to the grueling miles required of endurance horses — but Dixie had high hopes for her young mare, Steele.
Then she saw the laceration running down her hind leg.
Accidents occur more often than we’d like with horses. As tough and athletic as they are, they also possess a degree of fragility that can make even the best laid plans go awry.
Upon further examination, Steele, who had yet to take a lame step, was revealed to have a fracture in her tibia bone, likely sustained from taking a kick from another mare in her field. “It was at the very top of her tibia and the bone didn’t detach,” Dixie explained. “The prognosis was good overall.”
All things considered, Steele had gotten lucky. She would recover from the fracture, but the process would require some downtime and rehab work.
Dixie worried. Would Steele take to the downtime or would she go stir crazy and injure herself further? Thoroughbreds have a higher amount of energy than other breeds and Steele had already shown herself to have a high pain tolerance. Indeed, without the cut on her leg that was indicative of underlying trouble, Dixie feels she may not have otherwise known something was amiss.
Steele was prescribed stall rest followed by hand walking for a period while the fracture healed. As Dixie worried about whether or not her mare was uncomfortable or in pain, she turned to the one thing she knew could help ease her fears: data.
“Right after the injury, I put the Hylofit on her every day,” Dixie explained. She’d previously been using Hylofit as she trained Steele for her endurance career, but now she’d found a different use for monitoring her horse’s heart rate.
Remember: an elevated resting heart rate can be an indicator of pain, nervousness, or other discomfort in horses. Since Dixie had established a resting heart rate baseline for Steele using her Hylofit, she was able to set her mind at ease when she saw that her mare’s heart rate was not abnormally high.
Steele has since been cleared to start doing some light tack walking and rehab rides, and Dixie says she’s grateful to have her Hylofit along for the ride. In her first tack ride after the injury, Dixie was pleased to see that Steele’s heart rate remained steady — indicating that she was comfortable and not anxious or in pain — only spiking when a horse in a neighboring field wanted to race!
Sometimes, it’s not only about tracking fitness and training. While Dixie says having Hylofit was invaluable for Steele’s conditioning program, she says the peace of mind she’s gained during this down period has been even more priceless.
“It really gave me a lot of peace of mind. We knew she wasn’t physically showing a lot of signs of pain despite her broken leg, so I worried,” Dixie said. “We use Hylofit during our hand walks and she’s always shown normal numbers. It helps me worry less and have confidence that we’re going in the right direction.”