Ask an Expert

Tendon Injuries

March 24, 2009

The American Association of Equine Practitioners offers advice for a horse owner whose mare cut her tendon. AAEP is an AQHA educational marketing alliance partner.

Question:

My 5-year-old mare cut the tendon in the front of her hind leg. Will the tendon will ever heal, and will she ever be able to be ridden again?

Answer:

Extensor tendon lacerations in horses tend to have a good prognosis. It will depend, of course, on the severity of the laceration and the type of activity your horse performs.

There are a couple of reasons why extensor tendon lacerations are usually less serious than lacerations of the flexor tendon on the back of the limb. First of all, extensor tendon lacerations usually do not involve a tendon sheath. Tendon sheath involvement can result in serious infection and/or adhesion development.

Secondly, the extensor tendon simply does not have to withstand the same forces as the flexor tendon during motion. A thorough cleansing of the wound is extremely important. Usually, we will not attempt to repair the extensor tendon itself with sutures.

After a vet cleans and sutures the skin wound, a proper bandage is put on, often with the addition of a splint. The splint is used to help keep the horse from “knuckling over” during the healing process and to keep the limb in the correct position for proper tendon healing.

Keep in mind that this is a generalization. There are a lot of variables, dependent on the severity and exact location of the injury. Your mare’s┬áchances of returning to riding are probably pretty good. Your veterinarian should be able to give you a more accurate prognosis based on the exam.

Dr. Damon O’Gan, Austin, Texas