Tendons and Ligaments: Anatomy and Physiology

Tendon and ligament injuries often go hand in hand with horses involved in vigorous athletic pursuits. However, many tendon and ligament injuries can be avoided through proper conditioning and training regimens and by not pushing a horse beyond its limits in racing or other competitions.

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Horse Tendon Anatomy
Photo: Dr. Robin Peterson Illustration

Tendons and ligaments in the horse are the “belts” and “cables” that hold bones in place and allow the muscles to do their jobs in creating propulsion– forward, backward, sideways, and up and down. Because of the workload often put upon them, tendons and ligaments are frequent sites of injury and disease.

What are tendons and ligaments?

Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary:

  • Tendon–A fibrous cord by which muscle is attached to bone.
  • Ligament–A band of fibrous tissue that connects bones or cartilages, serving to support and strengthen joints.

To go into detail about every tendon and ligament would fill several textbooks, which is something that’s already been done. Instead, we will concentrate on the tendons and ligaments in the limbs, especially the forelimbs, which often are the sites of injury and disease. We will examine their construction, how they function, and what can happen when some-thing goes awry

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Written by:

Les Sellnow was a prolific freelance writer based near Riverton, Wyoming. He specialized in articles on equine research, and operated a ranch where he raised horses and livestock. He authored several fiction and nonfiction books, including Understanding Equine Lameness and Understanding The Young Horse. He died in 2023.

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