How to deal with bowed tendons
06:22 (GMT+2), Tue, 19 April 2011
Although a horse with bowed tendons can't be raced, it can still be ridden if the condition is properly treated, writes Dr Mac.
Ligaments attach bones to other bones, while tendons attach bones to muscles. Tendons consist of bundles of fibres running parallel to each other, surrounded by lubricating fluid and encased in a tendon sheath.
Tendon fibres are slightly elastic. This allows for a fetlock to extend at speed, or act as a shock absorber when a horse is jumping. Below the knee and hock, a horse’s leg consists mainly of bones, ligaments and tendons containing blood vessels and nerves. There’s almost no muscle tissue.
What is a bowed tendon?
When tendon fibres or the tendon sheath tear due to injury, blood and fluid collect around the injury, resulting in a swelling at the back of the cannon bone midway between the knee and the fetlock. It can occur on the hind leg, but is more usually found on the front legs, which carry 60% of the horse’s weight.
Two tendons can be involved – the deep flexor tendon and the superficial flexor tendon. It’s the latter that’s the cause of the swelling known as “bowed tendon” – a rupture or injury of the deep flexor tendon is more likely to cause a sudden, gradually worsening lameness and overflexion (sinking) of the fetlocks.
However, in some cases, both sets of tendons can be involved at the same time. If this happens, the prognosis is fairly poor.
Read more in the 15 April 2011 issue.
E-mail Dr Mac c/o firstname.lastname@example.org
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