In a previous post we shared information outlined by Gillian Higgins from: Horses Inside Out. Using her trademark painted horses, Gillian is a master of providing data on the health and anatomy of the equine.

Previously Gillian explained how ligaments are fibrous tissue located throughout the body and that they help to control the range of movement. She went on to explain how tendons are connective tissue that connect muscle to bone and how both the tendons and ligaments lack blood supply, and for that reason are slow to heal.

Today we are going to continue with the rest of the article "Vital Connections" where you'll see the most common types of injuries and the related cause as well as suggestions on keeping them sound!

Typical Injuries
Tendon and ligament strains, sprains and tears are common in performance horses' lower legs.

* Horses who gallop or jump are most at risk of injury. Over-Extension, particularly on a regular basis, can cause strain to the flexor tendons. Severe damage or rupture of the suspensory ligament may occur suddenly or over time. With dressage horses, the hind suspensory ligaments are particularly vulnerable to repetitive strain injuries, the most common training-related injury, which result in progressive degeneration.
* Factors which may lead to damage are: overworking a tired horse, direct trauma, damage to the parent muscle, poor conformation such as long sloping pasterns, poor hoof balance, carrying too much weight, rough, deep or hard ground and excessive fast work too early in training before the horse is conditioned.
* Injuries are most common in flexor tendons, check ligaments and the suspensory ligament.
* Inflammatory changes associated with the tearing of collagen fibers produce heat, swelling and pain and reduced function - although not all need to be present. In the case of mild strain there is little to no heat, pain or swelling.
* If injury is gradual rather than acute, it is known as tendonitis. The term for inflammation of the suspensory ligament is desmitis.
* If tendon or ligament damage is suspected, the vet must be called immediately. Swift action influences long term-recovery.
* Prompt application of cold therapy and pressure bandaging is essential to control inflammation. Application of ice to the limb will constrict ruptured blood vessels and slow bleeding and bruising.

Keep Them Sound
*As their elastic limit is doubled when warm, tendons are less prone to injury if warmed up gradually. Cold tendons are less pliable and more susceptible to damage.
*Excessive heat generated by protective leg gear when riding at speed can weaken the collagen fibers. If not removed immediately after exercise, retained heat can increase tendon temperature to 46-47 degrees Celsius. Tendons are more susceptible to injury when they have a high core temperature.

To Maintain Optimum Tendon Health
* Use well ventilated boots that allow efficient, convection cooling of the legs during exercise.
* Remove boots and actively cool the legs as soon as possible to do so after fast work.
*Avoid using bandages for a prolonged period of time or if the horse is engaged in fast work. Bandages increase heat within the structures more than boots, increasing the time it takes to cool the legs.
* Ensure protective and support bandages are firm but not tight, and include the fetlock.
* Feel legs daily for signs of heat or swelling.

For more information on what you can do to more readily support the development of healthy connective tissue, see OSTEO-FUEL and our liquid mineral rub, Trainers Choice both by TLC Animal Nutrition, Inc.

Read the complete article here: