Equine Peroneus Tertius With A Twist Of Avulsion

Have you ever heard of Equine Peroneus Tertius – with a twist of Avulsion Rupture, or possibly an Avulsion Fracture? Journey with us through this gut-wrenching, emotional journey of healing that offers multiple “silver linings”…

It has taken an extremely long time (longer than I even thought) to come to grips to revisit the horrifying, incredibly freak accident that occurred on July 1, 2014 that almost took our stallion’s life. Anyone who knows me a little has a pretty good understanding as to how much my stallion means to me. He is my second soul mate as are all of our boys. When it comes to my horses, dogs and beloved animal companions, which is what I’m most about, my heart is like an open book and I make no apologies… They are absolutely my best friends and healers, even more so over the past decade+.

I wanted to begin this blog and site a long time ago, however as the saying goes, “life happens”… Our primary goal is to share with other horse lovers and horse owners insight into our particular journey and what we have learned from this serious, life-threatening incident – an incident forever etched in our minds. There probably isn’t a day that passes that I don’t again ask myself, “Could this bizarre accident have been prevented?” The answer remains “no.”

What is Peroneus Tertius?

The Peroneus Tertius is an almost entirely tendinous muscle that plays an absolutely essential role in the reciprocal apparatus and operation of the hindlimbs of the horse. It originates from the “extensor fossa of the distal femur, running over the cranial aspect of the tibia and inserts.” In short and in layperson’s terms, the Peroneus Tertius muscle coordinates the flexion of the hock and stifle joints. A rupture (and worse) can occur when the hock is over (or hyper) extended, usually due to a more sudden, traumatic occurence when the hock flexes far beyond and behind its normal range. The hock isn’t meant to flex/extend so much as in this video.

What is an Avulsion Rupture?

An Avulsion Rupture is the tearing away of the structure (in this case the tendon) from the bone.

What is an Avulsion Fracture?

An Avulsion Fracture is a bone fracture that occurs when a fragment of the bone actually tears away from the main mass of bone – usually as a result of physical trauma (in this case the hock). This can occur at the ligament, for example due to a fall or pull or at the tendon due to muscular contraction that is stronger than the forces that hold the bone together.

The Journey Back Begins…

As we soon found out, our stallion’s injury did not fit the routine description of Peroneus Tertius. PT is not an overly common injury or it may just be that there simply doesn’t exist a tremedous amount of data out there although I’ve uncovered more as the months have passed. Due to the severe trauma he sustained, not only over-extending his hind hock/leg, his particular injury was exacerbated by the fact that not only was his hock hyper-extended, his entire leg and more (from very top of hip to the tip of his hoof) were torqued up high behind him – with his hoof so freakiously trapped in between a really small space in between the bars at the top portion of his stall door – absolutely the most bizarre, freak incident I’ve ever witnessed in over 40 years with horses. We couldn’t believe what just happened! As Happy stood quietly, and as always so sensible and trusting, my husband held the weight of his entire leg and hoof against his chest while cutting the steel bar with a hacksaw to free him. Happy knew that John was doing his absolute best to free him from this horrifying, bizarre situation. One wrong move would have made, or literally broken Happy’s leg. Once freed from between the bars and observing just how badly he was hurt, we truly thought that his leg was broken.

In over 40+ years of working with horses, I have no doubt been truly blessed with the comparatively small number of health/accident issues with our horses.  This single injury, however, was and remains far beyond my ability to rationalize as to why it happened?  To date, there is no answer as to why, and there most likely will never be an acceptable explanation as to how and why this horrific accident could ever happen, especially to such a kind, loving, willing and ‘happy’ horse…

While I love and absolutely cherish Happy Hour, our goal here is to share with others what we have learned about this type of severe injury our horse and we have experienced, particularly since it not only involved a ruptured Peroneus Tertius, an Avulsion Rupture and possibly an Avulsion Fracture (never got 100% confirmation of that), it was an injury that ultimately (and understandably) involved his hips and pelvic structure given the specific circumstances. In fact, as most horse people can probably imagine, this bizarre incident torqued and traumatized his entire body. We’ve observed and addressed significant changes throughout his entire body from head to toe since the accident and throughout every stage of recovery. What an amazing and enlightening journey, to say the least!

In many cases it has been said that the rupture of the Peroneus Tertius is not painful for a horse. While I’m not a veterinarian, I can say without doubt or hesitation, that this particular incident inflicted incredible pain for our horse – to the point where he was going into shock. Despite all of the emotions, chaos and confusion associated during the moments that followed the accident, which seem like hours and hours, we poured buckets of water over his entire body to keep him from going further in shock, and we were almost certain we would have to put him down. I have no problem in saying our prayers were answered – no doubt in our minds.

Our goal is to share a timeline from the time of the accident to the current time, which is now about 16 months out. We’ll share personal photos and video we’ve been able to find with the hope that by sharing this journey back to recovery, possibly we can help another horse and horse owner down the line.

Throughout this entire experience, there remain a few common and essential threads – time, faith and patience, not to mention lots and lots of TLC…

It is our sincere hope other horse lovers and equine caregivers can benefit, even if only in a small way to help should their horse experience this type of less common albeit potentially very serious injury. For some of us, writing is great therapy as are our beloved equine companions the best therapy of all (speaking for myself only ). We are hopeful to attract lots of horse people and that we too learn even more from our readers experiences too.

To finish up this first introductory post in “The Journey Back” section of this blog, we’ll will do our best to share posts as consistently as possible. With this said, the past decade has presented much challenge and adversity for us as it unfortunately has for many (no sob story here; just plain facts…). HappyHorseOfAmerica has been created on a zero budget, especially since I’ve been out of work for over 6-1/2 years due to an accident for which I was not at fault in 2009. In addition to surviving serious neurological Lyme Disease back in the early-mid 2000’s from which one never fully recovers (I’m one of the luckier ones though and most thankful!), I suppose I’m now qualified to say that I’m an official “cancer survivor” too. Like Happy, I’m a survivor, have a great zest for life and hope to do many good things for others and ourselves in the coming years.

It’s been an incredible journey thus far. It’s amazing what us humans can endure – far more than we can ever comprehend sometimes.  All I can say is Thank God for our wonderful healing horses, dogs, cats, squirrels, deer – for all of our precious animal friends as they are truly incredible gifts. I doubt I’m alone in this sentiment… 

We hope you will follow and comment on this blog topic and other areas of HHOA as we grow and mature. In addition to The Journey Back section, equine fitness & nutrition, equestrian health & fitness, alternative therapies for horses, dogs, cats and us humans are all topics of great interest and importance we hope to share – even more so these days. We look forward to a positive dialogue and mutually beneficial learning experience. So, until next time,

Happy Living & Happy Riding!


Happy Hour & Friends


The information and statements contained herein express the personal thoughts and experiences of HappyHorseOfAmerica and its blog writer(s) only, and is not intended in any way to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any equine disease or injury and should not be construed as such. This blog post and site are strictly for informational purposes only.

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