If you have a sporty horse, what does he have in common with professional athletes? Injuries. Find out whether your equine partner is at risk of suffering an injury, like a DDFT or deep digital flexor tendon injury or a suspensory ligament injury, and what you should do about it. Anything from torn tendons or damaged joints to bruises and bumps —can put your horse on the sidelines. While any horse can actually get injured, the demands of eventing, races and competition will obviously increase the risk of sore muscles, suspensory ligament injuries, DDFT or deep digital flexor tendon tears and more.
Sport horses are definitely among the most extraordinary athletes in the world. Just like other athletes, they can get hurt at times. Whether they compete in racing or any other equestrian competition or sport, injury is always a high risk. Sporting events, competitions and races demand a great deal from a horse that competes on a regular basis, and eventually the accumulation of wear and tear might cause the horse to get hurt even if an accident never actually happens. It is the responsibility of the horse owner to take all the necessary precautions and stay aware of their horse’s overall health. In case the horse owner requires external help to monitor the horse’s health and wellbeing there is always the option of getting in touch with a qualified specialist who has completed a full training on how to become an equine physical therapist to safeguard that his horse’s health is in good hands.
Year after year, owners of horses who compete are plagued with limb injuries. At times this is just a small blip in the training calendar, but some other times it spells the end of a competition season, and worst-case scenario, it can even end a horse’s career. Throughout the following lines we will describe some of the most common injuries:
Inflammation of joints
Inflammation, also known as “synovitis,” happens in your equine partner’s ankles, coffin, or hock. It’s a very common sport injuries when it comes to horses. The redness is probably due to an increase in work level or intensity that your horse is not accustomed to. Your equine partner will appear to be sore at the start of work if he is suffering from inflammation. The best approach to treat such injury is to give your equine partner about 10 days off.
The suspensory ligament is a broad elastic cable that runs all the way from the back of the knee down the back of the canon bone. It then branches to cradle the fetlock joint. The purpose of the suspensory ligament is to suspend the fetlock joint and avoid over extension during loading. Basically, it just works like a spring mechanism that absorbs the energy as it stretches. In horses who have been through very intense exercises, microdamage can happen within the fibres of the ligament and because of the insufficient blood supply, these microtears can eventually accumulate without having enough time to heal. This is precisely why we see very often repetitive strain injuries as well as inflammation in the suspensory ligament.
DDFT or deep digital flexor tendon damage
The deep digital flexor tendon, also abbreviated as DDFT, runs down the back of the leg and behind the heel, and it attaches to the bottom of the coffin bone. The main job of the deep digital flexor tendon is to flex the leg, while it also plays a support role at the heel. Injuries in the lower section of this tendon are very common in sporty horses.
Most injuries encountered in sporty horses are a consequence of repetitive strain or speed. This clearly points at the need for cross-training as well as functional exercises to be a part of a horses’ daily training to reduce the risk of such injuries.