By Brianne Henderson, BVMS, MRCVS
Every year riders are plagued with limb injuries to their equine partners. Sometimes this is a small blip in the training schedule, other times it spells the end of a competitive season or even a career.
Here, we'll highlight three common injuries and different modalities that can help your horse onto the road to recovery (and a few preventive tips). And, we'll outline different treatments to help manage the injuries discussed in an easy-to-read table.
The suspensory ligament (SL) is effectively a broad elastic cable that runs from the back of the knee down the back of the canon bone and then branches to cradle the fetlock joint. Its purpose is to suspend the fetlock joint and prevent over extension during loading. Essentially, it works like a spring mechanism to absorb the energy as it stretches and then recoils to lift the fetlock back to its normal position.
Over time, microdamage occurs within the fibres of the ligament and due to the poor blood supply, these microtears are more likely to accumulate than heal. Often this is why we see repetitive strain injuries and/or inflammation in the SL.
The impact of foot balance is critical to the health of the SL. A foot with long toe and low heel places increased strain on structures within the foot (navicular bone), the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT), and the SL by predisposing to a toe-firs” landing. Instead of allowing a gradual absorption of impact through the structures of the heels and up the limb, this movement creates a snapping action on the DDFT and SL. The long