Tender Tendons – How to Tend a Tender Tendon

We may of experienced it or at least know someone who has ‘blown a tendon’. But what would you do and what you should do?

Signs of a possible tendon injury

Bilateral inflamed flexor tendons in a horse.

Bilateral inflamed flexor tendons in a horse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first critical thing you may notice is the horse NOT putting weight on the leg.

– Or –

the weight bearing cycle of the leg is not happening. The normal weight bearing of the lower limb depends on a solid foundation from the flexor tendons.

A horse at rest can hurt his tendons by sharp objects or as the result of a kick from a pasture mate. A tendon injury which occurs from a kick, cut are a bit different then tendon injuries which occurs from ‘at speed’ work.

Tendon injuries resulting from work related stress usually result from the fraying and over stretching of the tendons. If a horse is galloping and the tendon, like an elastic band, for example, becomes over stretched or tired, the tendon could rupture. This leaves no tell tail surface mark as in a kick or broken skin but there is considerable pain, lameness and swelling.

What to look for:

  • horse not ‘striding’ as usual. Asymetry during wieght bearing stance of the stride.
  • horse not standing normal. Resting foot with heel of the ground, or fetlock slumping.
  • heat pain and swelling on the inside (usually front) of the cannon bone

Emergency Tendon Treatment

If you suspect a tendon injury the first few minutes are important for the horse’s long term recovery. Do not under estimate the necessity of early treatment to avoid future problems.

  • Reduce inflammation and swelling immediately. This may mean cold water hosing, ice packs, or other cooling products. Apply generously and continuously immediately for
  • If there is a cut or laceration, clean the wound with antibiotic scrub such as providine or chlorahexidane shampoo to prevent any infection and if required contact your vet should the wound require sutures or injectable antibiotics.
  • Apply clean and supportive stable bandages with non stick quilts (if there is an open wound) and monitor.

If you have anti-inflammatory pain-killing medication (like ‘bute’), some may be in order.

Call the vet and ask for a thorough review of the tendon. If there is a wound suturing may be required, but a severed tendon may also require suturing and once the horse is comfortable this can be done.

Have you had an emergency tendon treatment? How did you treat your tendon injury? What tips can you share?

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About Laura

Laura Kelland-May is the founder of Thistle Ridge Skill Builders Development Program. She more than trains horses, she trains people to train their horses. In addition she is a Sr. Judge and can offer insight into What the Judge Is Looking For. Follow her here and get more tips.
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