Owning a horse is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but unfortunately, like us, horses can get injured. This is something no horse owner wants, especially when they are competing.
Day to day, horses can injure themselves on barbed wire, nails, fencing, glass or metal. Even running into things, stepping on sharp objects, or getting stuck are a very common horse injuries. You can lower the risk of these injuries by walking around your pasture and stable regularly, looking for any hazards.
Common horse Injuries:
- Suspensory ligament
- Soft Tissue problems
- Hoof problems
Suspensory ligament injuries
A suspensory ligament is a band of fibrous tissue that supports an organ or body part. In horses, this is one part of the suspensory apparatus of the leg. Suspensory ligament injuries are caused by excessive strain on the ligament during strenuous exercise; for example, extreme loading forces on the fetlock causes it to overextend.
Spotting the signs of this horse injury is important, and it’s worth noting that athletic horses are more at risk of suffering a ligament injury. If it is a recent injury this could show up as swelling or heat, but if you are worried anyway, contact your vet and they will conduct an ultrasound. The recovery process requires patience and commitment from both you and your horse. In most cases, a controlled exercise program should be put in place.
The junction between any two bones is known as a joint. The most common joint injuries involve front ankles (fetlock joints) and hocks. Arthritis can develop on the ankles, which is the inflammation of a joint involving the bones, the articular cartilages, ligaments and joint capsules. This can be treated with rest and medication. The lower joints of the hock are stressed during twisting and torque on the leg during turns and stops. Also stressed are coffin joints in the front feet during fast turns or any speed events.
Soft tissue injuries
Soft tissue problems most commonly occur when the tendon or ligament is stretched beyond its capacity, causing the fibres to tear. This can be cause by a sudden traumatic event or over time. Soft tissue structures go through three stages of healing, beginning with the inflammatory stage. When healing cells begin to regenerate tissues, and finally go through remodeling, when the tendon and ligament fibers begin to rearrange themselves into a normal pattern. It takes a minimum of six months for most soft tissue injuries to heal, so resting is the best solution for your horse’s injury.
Many lameness issues occur in the lower leg below the knee, because a lot of their weight is carried there. It can be difficult to diagnose, but if you are very familiar with your horse’s gait, their mannerisms and their carriage you will know if they is in any pain.
Hoof problems can include hooves being bruised or punctured. They can also suffer thrush or an abscess, meaning your horse cannot be ridden, and it will be unable to perform. When a hoof is bruised or has thrush from standing in damp or dirty conditions, a bacterial infection can occur - otherwise it should mend in a couple of weeks. A punctured sole will cause extreme lameness due to the pain caused by inflammation in the foot, which increases pressure on the wall of the hoof. More serious is an abscess, which is when a horse will refuse to put any weight on the affected hoof. A vet will test the hoof and treat it by opening the abscess to permit drainage of the accumulated fluids.
Different horse injuries caused by competing:
- Show jumping
- Race horses / endurance
With show jumping, the highest risk involved is the landing action. Your horse could land awkwardly, setting his foot down badly on rough ground, and the result is a torn tendon or ligament. The height of the fences jumped can lead to injuries in the lower forelimbs.
Injury to bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments is a major problem for racehorses. About four tonnes is placed on the joint surfaces in a galloping horse’s lower limb with every stride, meaning that horses with a greater ability to run fast have an increased risk of injury.
The repetitive nature of dressage leads to increased levels of wear and tear, especially around the coffin and pastern joints and further stain on the neck and back. The softness of the areas can also lead to repetitive strain injuries in the tendons.
Treating minor injuries
If your horse has suffered a minor injury it’s always good to have a first aid kit handy, especially when travelling. This could include bandages, tweezers, disinfectant etc. It is also important for your horse to have a yearly tetanus shot.
A few minor horse injuries include abrasions from when a horse falls and skids, skinning her hip, leg or shoulder. Minor cuts are classed as an opening on the very top layer of skin; they should not bleed for long. However, deep cuts may require veterinary treatment.
Punctured wounds can occur on any part of the horse and look small and harmless, but because they are hard to clean they can cause an infection. Bruising or swelling under the skin can be caused when a horse bumps into a solid object; this can be eased with a cold compress.
Flushing with lots of saline to remove the dirt, grass or any other particles can clean many of these minor horse injuries. Apply a disinfectant, which will kill bacteria left on the wound, and always be gentle by washing it down tenderly to avoid causing further pain to your horse or more damage to the skin.
Injuries to riders
Injuries sustained as a result of horse riding accident can occur due to their sheer size, or if you misread their signals. Horses can kick, shove, stomp, shy, buck, and bolt. The most common accident occurs if they throw you, off causing severe head or spinal injuries and fractures.
The joints in the hips, ankles and knees can also take a serious battering while riding due to the continued and repetitive vibration. As a rider, wearing a helmet, body protecting gear and properly fitted boots are a must. To prevent repetitive injuries regular exercising of the body, proper stretching and allowing the body regular rest can help.
Whether you are a casual rider or competitor you will be involved in training and riding horses every day - so you want to prevent an injury as much as possible. Many horse riding accidents can be avoided through understanding and using safe riding and horse handling practices. Horse supplements may also benefit your horse. Animalife joint health and comfort and recovery products are proudly recommended by leading vets and international team riders.