Did you know that most racehorse injuries involve the musculoskeletal system in some way? Here, we’ll take a look at four of the most common types of tendon and ligament injuries thoroughbred race horses can suffer from. Armed with this knowledge, you will be better able to understand what these injuries mean to a horse’s future with racing.
A bowed tendon is defined as an enlargement and inflammation of the flexor tendon which is located behind the front cannon bone. In general, the cause is excessive strain; excessive strain can be caused by many different things, including a horse having weak pasterns or being back at the knees, low heels, long toes, and improper shoeing can all lead to bowed tendons. Treatment for bowed tendons involves months of rest; for example, six months off is quite normal. Additional treatments including surgical procedures, laser treatments, and enzyme injections are currently being used in the treatment of bowed tendons.
When the front of the cannon bone, between the fetlock and knee joints, is enlarged, serious soreness occurs, along with calcium deposits and new bone growth. This condition is caused by excessive concussion, and is most often seen in young horses forced to endure heavy training. The goal of treatment for bucked shins is to thicken the cannon bone’s front cortex, sometimes by continuing light training and providing pain management, and other times by taking more invasive action. The best treatment for bucked shins? Don’t overdo it with training.
Human athletes suffer from shin splints with regularity; a horse can get a splint too. These bony growths or calcifications occur on the inside of the cannon bones, and are normally caused when the interosseous ligament which binds the cannon bone to the splint bones becomes inflamed, and it can also be caused by a concussion with a hard surface.
Torn Suspensory Ligament
The horse’s suspensory ligaments run from the upper end of the back side of the cannon bones, knees, or hocks, all the way down to the pastern bone and the sesamoids. These very important ligaments are understandably some of the most stressed of all the thoroughbred race horse’s bodily tissues. Treatment for a torn suspensory ligament normally involves anywhere from 6 to 9 months of rest followed by approximately 3 months of retraining.
As you can see, each of these injuries causes significant pain to the horse and lost time to the owner; by preventing overuse, you make giant strides in ensuring your horse does not suffer one of these common racehorse injuries.