Useful Tips

Tendons and ligaments


Leg injuries are not uncommon among sports horses. Each discipline has its own characteristics and has its own typical problems. Dressage is not at all so safe for a horse, although it does not have high jumps and long pitches of a field gallop. One of the most unpleasant and dangerous injuries for a dressage horse is damage to the suspension ligament. In a horse, the third interosseous muscle (it is also the hanging ligament) lies between the rudiments of the II and IV metacarpal bones and gives branches to the tendon of the common extensor of the fingers. It prevents overshoot in the joint. Injury to this muscle can deprive the horse of the joy of free movement for a long time, and in some cases completely end her sports career.

The selection is designed to deliver dressage horses with the desired exterior and movements. Representatives of the best lines have beautiful, flying movements, a wide swing and an energetic, lively disposition. However, they need time to grow and grow stronger. Early check-in and excessive requirements in preparation give a fatal load on the young body. It can lead to a partial detachment of the muscle from its attachment to the bone. In addition, even an adult horse can damage the suspension ligament. There are many movements in the dressage program in which the putty joint descends to the ground more than usual. It is enough, for example, to look at photographs of the horse’s legs while performing a passage or piaffe. We will not touch on methods for treating suspension muscle injuries; it should only be prescribed by a veterinarian and for each specific horse. In this article I want to touch on how to avoid this trouble:

- Take your time. Even the most gifted young horse can easily be ruined if it starts early to work. Saying earlier than 3-3.5 years is detrimental to the animal organism. But after that you need to gradually increase the load. Even if the horse has natural excellent movements, take your time with the added and collected gait, let the horse first grow and develop the necessary muscles,

- The right training. It is very important about not only giving the horse feasible tasks, but to diversify the work. A repetition of the same movement is very likely to lead to injury due to overwork. Often let the horse rest, alternate days with serious loads with days of light training and horseback riding,

- Soil. Soil quality is crucial. 90% of the training takes place in the native arena, so carefully monitor the state of coverage. Dangerous is too heavy or too hard soil. Experienced riders know this well and have repeatedly seen how qualitatively other movements the horse shows on the correct surface,

- Clearing and forging. Dressage horses carry a specific load, so it is very important that the forge take this into account. Up to 33% of injuries in horses are somehow related to lameness. Improper hoof balance and other clearing problems lead to increased load on the ligamentous apparatus of the legs and increase injuries.

- Give the horse rest and the opportunity to move. If your horse is in the stall for most of the day, and its entire load is training, then there is no need to talk about the good condition of the legs. Constant movement is vital for the horse to maintain health. It helps the horse pump blood, preventing it from stagnating (hoof is a natural pump). Blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to cells, restoring them after exercise and healing microdamages. Rest days are also absolutely necessary both in the weekly schedule and after competitions and moving. The main thing to understand is that rest is a day spent in Levada, and not in a stall,

- The right ammunition. Protect your horse's legs from accidental injuries. Too many doctors do not approve of the widespread tight bandage and the use of supportive legs. They explain their position by the fact that constant work with support without indications for it does not allow the horse to strengthen its own ligamentous apparatus. Consult your veterinarian to determine if your horse needs leg protection with support. However, the most common nails are recommended by all experts. When teaching added gaits and lateral movements, even a neat horse can hit itself on the leg. One such well-aimed strike could cost her a sports career,

- Proper feeding. Specialists have written a huge amount of materials about the need to make the right diet for horses. Often owners are very keen on giving concentrated feeds to their pets. From a surplus of energy, the horse makes sharp movements, rushes in the levada, behaves badly in the hands. All of this could potentially cause injury, especially in young, still immature horses,

- Listen to your horse. Not always the injury immediately makes itself felt, especially if it is small. But if the load is not removed, then such microdamage can turn into a serious problem. Horses indirectly always show if something is bothering them: clamped movements, unwillingness to do exercises in one direction, resistance, etc. In the event of any "bad" behavior, first of all, it is necessary to exclude medical reasons,

- Timely treatment. Swelling, lameness, swelling, and tightness can all be symptoms of a serious injury. Do not self-medicate, do not waste precious time. In addition, "home" methods can hide the symptoms, thereby greatly complicating the diagnosis. The sooner treatment is started, the more likely it is to have a favorable outcome.

What are tendons and ligaments

Tendons and ligaments of the horse - we will understand the definition of these terms. A tendon is what a muscle attaches to a bone. They are a connecting fiber between muscle and bone. The ligament connects the bones of the skeleton and is a dense formation of connective tissue.

Tendon fibers

Building material for ligaments and tendons

Ligaments and tendons of a horse are not much different in their structure. They are similar to ropes - many threads are pulled in parallel and laid in one package.
This design has remarkable viciousness and flexibility, but the longitudinal elasticity of this design is small. The veins of the ligaments and tendons are composed of collagen protein fibers. Here difficulties arise for athletes. The formation of collagen protein is a rather difficult and long process. Collagen is formed using complex chemical reactions, with the help of vitamins and many mineral elements.

Collagen is not absorbed in its original form, you can’t just take and set horse collagen as a feed. It is impossible to replace collagen with something - this is the rarest protein. Not a single protein contains a sufficient amount of hydroxyprol in collagen. This means that the formation of tendons and ligaments cannot be stimulated using food additives.

However, the food company still came up with something. Food companies began to produce protein breakdown products, not protein. These are polypeptides, free vitamins, amino acids. These products do not need to be digested, they enter the bloodstream immediately and participate in the production of protein inside the body. Since the construction of collagen is a complex process, the effect of decay products (polypeptides, vitamins, amino acids) is limited.

The horse’s tendons should connect the bone and muscle, and when the muscle contracts to withstand tension. Tendon elasticity protects the body from rupture during significant loads and with sudden movements. In normal limits, the greater the elasticity of the connective tissue, the safer the muscle tension.

How tendon elasticity is restored

Thanks to parallel collagen fibers, tendons become elastic. Injured fibers after damage grow together randomly. Therefore, at first, after an injury, the fused areas are less elastic. They have a very low strength. For a long time, collagen threads will be rebuilt into well-defined schemes, and the ligaments will recover.

For the restoration and reconstruction of protein fibers in a given scheme requires some time. This is also a lag point in the development of tendons and ligaments. Having studied these facts, we see that the development of tendons and ligaments is eight times behind muscle development.

The period of muscle supercompensation, as we know from previous articles, lasts from 7 to 10 days, then in the tendon-ligamentous apparatus, rearrangement and restoration of collagen fibers takes at least 2 months.

Supercompensation effect

Rehabilitation and recovery period

The period of rehabilitation of tendons and ligaments of a horse after receiving an injury can be divided into 3 stages:

  1. The stage of inflammation will last for several days. At this stage, the permeability of capillaries increases. Therefore, a fluid rich in building ingredients from capillaries and small veins moves into the tendon tissue. When moving this fluid, the damaged area is filled with immune cells. Permanent swelling in the tissues of the tendons and joints indicate ongoing inflammation. This is the body's response to an excess of specific loads for this stage of tendon development, permanent microtraumas in the future. The competitive horse is completely exempted from training and working under the saddle for the duration of the injury. Walking the injured horse must be very careful. Calm step and short time.
  2. The proliferation stage also lasts a long time. At this stage, tendon tissue grows - fiber regeneration occurs. Collagen fibers accumulate randomly. The tendon filaments are not arranged in parallel, but randomly. The growth process can last several weeks - it depends on the amount of initial damage. After the end of tissue growth, the restored tendon loses its former elasticity and flexibility. At the proliferation stage, sharp jumps must be excluded, because although the tissues began to recover, the elasticity of the tendons has not yet returned. At the first serious load, the horse will return to the first period of inflammation. If the temperature of the ligament in a calm state returned to normal, there is no edema, with a free lynx free movement is not constrained - the proliferation stage is over.
  3. The remodeling period will last some time. This is the stage when the collagen veins are rearranged in the direction of the load. You need to understand that the fibers have just begun to rebuild, so very light loads are needed. After the tendon is restored, its strength and adaptation to mechanical stress increase. While the period of remodeling of the load proceeds, it is necessary to increase carefully and gradually, it is necessary to strictly monitor the dryness and temperature of the tendons. Every day you need to carefully examine the condition of the restored tissue of the horse. In case of edema, temperature changes, softening of tissues, it is necessary to reduce the intensity of the loads.


Intense illiterate loads during the proliferation and remodeling stages lead to the appearance of scars on the ligaments and joints, and this deprives them of elasticity forever. In case of scarring, scar removal can only be done by surgery.

Nutrition and support and tendons

The tendon has a well-developed lymphatic network, but very few blood vessels. This means that tendons are nourished through intercellular fluid substances. This explains why recovery drugs are applied externally and not through the digestive system or through the blood. Considering the peculiarities of the tendons and ligaments in horses in the possibility of nutrition and their developmental delay, consider external stimulants as a necessary element in the care of a young sports horse.

But the use of bandages and other fixing tendons means is constantly impossible, this will lead to the fact that the tendons and ligaments are eight times behind the muscle apparatus. The development of the tendon-ligamentous apparatus is characterized by the same laws of supercompensation, which apply to muscles. This means that the tendon must respond to irritation with super-recovery and strain. Tendon development does not occur due to the elimination of bandage load, but due to the correct training program, selected for each horse without bandages. Athletic advancing muscle development is not a reason for the trainer's pride in horses, but an indicator of his illiteracy.

Bandages can only be advised for the proliferation period, for training with high intensity and during the competition.

Degree of injury

There are various injuries of ligaments and tendons in horses. According to the severity of sprain, there are three degrees:

  • mild pain with a small rupture of the ligament fibers,
  • moderate pain, disability, edema,
  • severe pain, ligament rupture and joint instability.

Also, three degrees of severity are classified and tendon stretch:

  1. moderate (loss of 25% fiber) pain during exercise:
  2. medium degree of damage (loss of 25-75% of fibers), prolonged pain during rest:
  3. complete rupture (more than 75%), severe pain, damaged muscle cannot be reduced.

Why horseshoes?

All modern horse breeds originally come from wild horses, whose ancestors appeared much earlier than humans. For thousands of years, they lived in natural conditions and moved freely without horseshoes. Then why did they start to shoe these animals? The answer to this question requires consideration of the way of life of wild and domesticated horses.

Wild horses live in the steppes and forests. They move, mainly on unpaved surfaces, carefully avoiding irregularities and areas with sharp stones. In addition, the animal in these conditions can actively move at will, which not only eliminates damage to the hooves, but also helps to strengthen the tissues of which they consist.

The life of horses from stables implies completely different conditions:

  • Animals move with a rider on their backs. Accordingly, excess weight creates an additional load on the horn tissue of the hooves.
  • The direction of movement for the horse sets the rider. As a result, the horse unintentionally steps on sharp stones, moves along asphalt and mountainous areas. All this contributes to the abrasion of the horns of the hoof, the appearance of cracks in it.
  • The physical activity of stable horses is minimal. This greatly exacerbates the situation. A minimum amount of blood enters the hoof tissue and the soles are not naturally strengthened.

Attention! When damage occurs to the animal’s hooves, cracks that accumulate on it accumulate dirt and manure. Such fractions contain pathogens of various diseases and other infections. As a result, inflammation of the tissues of the hoof and legs develops.

Horseshoe, just acts as a solution to these problems. It plays the role of shoes in horses and performs the following functions:

  • protects the horn tissue of the hoof from damage,
  • corrects the shape of the half-erased hoof, which prevents further abrasion,
  • facilitate the movement of animals in which trauma to the extremities is traced,
  • prevent slipping on wet and icy sections of the road,
  • improve the quality of movement of animals in general.

At the same time, the design of the horseshoe is clearly designed for the structure of the horse's hoof, which implies minimal discomfort for living creatures.

Horse hoof structure

Without knowledge of the structure of the hoof, it is not possible to properly shoe a horse. Moreover, such an attempt can only additionally damage the “shoe” of the animal, which for some time will incapacitate the horse.

The hoof of a horse consists of external and internal parts. External includes such elements:

  1. Sole. It is a flat formation of keratinized tissue. Responsible for protecting the inside of the hoof from damage.
  2. Wall. It is located around the horn capsule and protects the meat part from lateral damage. Also involves a layer of horn tissue.
  3. Arrow. It consists of the same fabric as the sole, but more elastic. It complements hoof protection. In addition, it reduces the momentum from hitting the hoof on the ground.
  4. Border. It is a skin layer that plays the role of a transition between the hoof and the leg.

The inner part involves the following components:

  1. Sensitive outsole.
  2. Meat whisk.
  3. Pterygoid cartilage.
  4. Sensitive arrow.
  5. Crown ring.

The role of the meat part of the hoof is to feed the keratinized tissues of the external part. It is worth noting that the nerve endings pass precisely in the inner part of the horn capsule, but they are not in the outer one.

Does the horse feel pain when it is shod?

Knowing the structure of the hoofed part, it is much easier to answer the question of whether the animal is sick during the horseshoe. With proper organization of the process, the horse does not feel pain. All fasteners are driven exclusively into the outer horn of the hoof, where the nerves are completely absent.

Things are different if the process is not implemented correctly. В этом случае кузнец рискует повредить мясную часть, что чревато не только болевыми ощущениями для животного, но и кровотечением. Такие ошибки в работе могут привести к пожизненной хромоте скакуна.

Во избежание указанных последствий мастера все время ориентируются на белую линию копыта. This “shoe” element indicates the thickness of the horn tissue and the border of the meat portion.

Varieties of horseshoes

The cornerstone in the process is the correct choice of the type of horseshoe. The most general classification of such products involves the presence of three types:

  1. Standard workers. Such horseshoes are fixed on the hooves of ordinary horses used in the farm. They are supplemented with blunt or sharp spikes (depending on the time of year). Product weight does not exceed 270 g.
  2. Orthopedic. The purpose of such products is to reduce the discomfort of injured horses when moving, as well as to facilitate faster healing of injuries. Made of durable polymers, steel, aluminum and other materials. The specific form is determined by the nature of the damage to the limb.
  3. Sports. From horseshoes of this type maximum lightness is required. Therefore, they are made from aluminum and other light alloys. The maximum weight of the product does not exceed 200 g. The shape of the horseshoe depends on the sport in which the horse takes part.

Other types are determined based on the specific design features of the product. There are horseshoes fixed with rivets or special straps. Some models suggest a non-slip tread. Horseshoes for heavy trucks and light horses vary among themselves.

New horseshoe model


Before starting work, it is important to prepare all the necessary tools. The exact set here depends on the type of horseshoe. But most often in the process are used:

  • special forging hammer,
  • trimming
  • special hoop rasp,
  • thorn key,
  • hoofed knife
  • ticks.

Important! If the animal is shy or aggressive, you will also need a machine to work on which the horse’s leg is firmly fixed. The horseshoe is fixed with the help of snickers. So called special nails for forging. Their length varies between 4.5-7 cm. This allows you to select the appropriate fasteners for animals of any size.

Step-by-step instruction

The forging process involves a number of nuances. Much depends on the horse. So, for example, overly active or shy horses horseshoe for several days. The first one simply taps the hoof with a stick. A horseshoe is placed on the second and lightly hit with a hammer. A day later they shoe one hoof and only then all the others.

The process of horseshoeing takes place at such stages:

  1. The performer raises the foot of the steed and gently cleans dirt and debris from the sole with a hook.
  2. With the help of ticks, the old horseshoe is removed.
  3. With a hook and a knife, they clean out the remaining dirt and cut off the excess horn tissue.
  4. Using a rasp, the entire surface of the hoof is leveled to a flat state.
  5. In the same way, they clean and grind all other hooves.
  6. Try on a new horseshoe to the cleaned section of the sole. If it doesn’t fit a bit, they fix it on the anvil.
  7. Re-attach the horseshoe to the hoof. If she lays down as needed, they begin to drive in. Do this alternately on each side of the horseshoe.
  8. The ends of the snubs from the outside are bent so that they do not interfere.
  9. With the help of trimming, sticking out the ends of the nails are cut, after placing the hoof of the animal on a special stand.
  10. In conclusion, the hoof walls are filed with a rasp so that they fit the size of the horseshoe.

Thus, with the proper implementation of the horseshoe process, the horse does not feel pain at all. But if an inexperienced person undertakes the matter, then he can touch that part of the hoof where the cartilage and nerves are located. In this case, the animal will not only feel pain, but can also be seriously injured. Therefore, it is not recommended to shoe horses on their own without proper work experience.