Your Guide to Equine Health Care

Suspensory Injury’s Effect on Future Racing Performance

How does a suspensory injury impact a racehorse’s performance? It depends on the severity of the injury.

No account yet? Register


You had high hopes for your Thoroughbred racing prospect until he sustained a suspensory ligament branch injury as a yearling. The question now is, after rehab, should you continue to pursue his racing career, or should you skip the track and point him down a different career path? Recent study results suggest the answer depends on the severity of the injury.

Jonathan McLellan, BVMS, MRCVS, and Sarah Plevin, BVMS, MRCVS, of Florida Equine Veterinary Associates, in Ocala, recently hypothesized that youngsters who injure a suspensory ligament branch are less likely to race to their potential. McLellan presented the results of their retrospective study on the topic during the 2013 American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Convention, held Dec. 7-11 in Nashville, Tenn.

Specifically, McLellan reviewed juvenile insertional suspensory branch injuries (JISBI), which occur at the suspensory ligament’s insertion on the proximal sesamoid bones (the two small bones sitting at the base of the cannon bone in back of the fetlock joint) between ages 1 and 2. Clinical signs include localized heat and swelling, pain on palpation, variable lameness (typically following speed work), a dropped appearance of the fetlock, and fetlock joint effusion (swelling). Veterinarians typically diagnose JISBI using ultrasound.

McLellan said the aim of their research was to allow veterinarians to provide evidence-based advice on the disease to owners of horses with this

Create a free account with to view this content. is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.


No account yet? Register

Written by:

Alexandra Beckstett, Managing Editor of The Horse and a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as Assistant Editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

What health and nutrition concerns are top of mind for you in the winter months?
121 votes · 166 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with!