It should come as no surprise that horses suffer from tendon and ligament injuries. When one considers these vital parts of the equine anatomy and the stresses placed upon them, it’s a tribute to the horse’s physical make-up that there aren’t more injuries. Unfortunately, when an injury does occur to a tendon or ligament, it can be career-threatening or even life-threatening.

Tendon and ligament injuries can occur to horses in all disciplines–even a lightly used trail horse. Once a tendon injury occurs, there often is a lengthy recuperation. Sometimes a horse will return to previous form, and sometimes he will not.

There are a number of treatment protocols that can be considered for tendon and ligament injuries, but the goal should be to prevent injury, rather than seek a cure once the injury has occurred.

With the help of several experts in the field, we will take an in-depth look at tendon and ligament structure and function to understand what happens to them in normal use, as well as what occurs when a tendon or ligament is injured. We also will examine ways in which tendons and ligaments can be conditioned to prevent injury.

Our experts include Dwight Bennett, DVM, PhD, professor emeritus at Colorado State University; Hugh Behling, DVM, a private practitioner in Simpsonville, Ky.; Nathaniel White II, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center at Virginia Tech in Leesburg, Va.; Tom Ivers, an equine exercise physiologist who operates the consulting firm Equine Racing Systems in Washogal, Wash.; and Allen Goodship, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS, a professor of orthopedic science at England’s Royal Veterinary College.

What They Are

Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary states that a tendon is a fibrous cord by which muscle is attached (to bone), and a ligament is a band of fibrous tissue that connects bones or cartilage, serving to