Tips to Prevent Tendon and Ligament Injuries in Horses

Essential components of the musculoskeletal system, tendons and ligaments enable a horse to move, and injuring either can result in severe pain and subsequent lameness.

What Are Tendons and Ligaments?


Tendons are sturdy bands of connective tissue that consist of collagen and protein. They do not stretch or have much give, as they are responsible for attaching the body’s muscles to its bones.


Ligaments wrap around the joints and bones and are more like cords of connective tissue. They provide a little more stretch and flexibility than tendons and are responsible for stabilizing and supporting the body’s joints.

What Causes Injuries to the Tendons and Ligaments?

Horses can injure both tendons and ligaments as a result of ongoing stress, repetitive use, overwork, and trauma. As a result, injuries sometimes occur gradually over time, and other times they happen suddenly, such as if a horse suffers a fall.
Since these injuries affect the horse’s joints, they can make it very difficult and painful for a horse to move around and put weight on its joints.

How to Prevent Tendon and Ligament Injuries in Horses

1. Choose a Horse With Good Conformation

The shape and structure of a horse have a lot to do with the amount of strain that’s placed on its joints. Choosing a horse with the best possible conformation (musculature, structure, and shape) is the best way to avoid injuries in the future. A full prepurchase examination by an equine veterinarian can help identify conformation issues that may cause lameness.

2. Avoid Strain With Proper Shoeing

Choose an experienced farrier to keep your horse on a regular shoeing or trimming schedule. Improper shoeing throws off your horse’s posture, putting abnormal strain on the joints.

3. Maintain Fitness

To avoid all musculoskeletal injuries, it’s essential to keep your horse in good shape. If your horse doesn’t get regular exercise, do not overwork it by doing too much too quickly.

4. Mix It Up

Another way to avoid injury is to cross train. Take your horse out on different terrain, do trots, sprints, and endurance walks.

Schedule a Lameness Evaluation With Our Equine Veterinary Specialists

Before purchasing a horse, we strongly encourage you to schedule a prepurchase exam with one of our equine veterinary specialists at Advanced Equine of the Hudson Valley. We will thoroughly examine the horse you are considering purchasing to ensure you are well aware of any conformation issues, musculoskeletal problems, or other health concerns before making such an important decision.
To learn more or schedule an exam for your horse, we welcome you to contact us today.