Horse Leg Injuries

A horse”s legs, particularly the forelegs, are by far the most common sites for injuries. With each stride, the horse”s front legs take the brunt of the concussive forces of his hooves hitting the ground. This can result in both soft tissue injury and bone fractures.

Many leg injuries occur when horses are trained too hard, too fast or on a hard surface. Rapid, hard training doesn”t allow time for the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons to adjust to the additional stress. Injury can also occur when the horse has poor conformation, is worked on an uneven surface, is bandaged too tightly or lacks balanced trimming and proper shoeing.

Common leg injury symptoms include:

  • lameness
  • pain
  • swelling and inflammation
  • reluctance to complete a training session.

Treating lameness in horses is very much dependent on the location and severity of the injury. To determine location, examine the legs for swelling and heat, and evaluate gait at both a walk and trot. If swelling is visible, applying cold water or ice packs will help reduce the inflammation. For foot injuries, a hot tub soak may be appropriatesoak the affected foot in warm water and Epsom salts for 20 minutes. If lameness is severe or persistent, contact your veterinarian.

The articles in this section address some of the common injuries that cause lameness in horses. These are typically seen in the lower half of the forelimbs, and range from tendonitis to fractures of the shin bone. Each includes details on symptoms and common therapies used to treat and manage the injury and an anatomical diagram of the area affected. Follow the links in the menu to the right to read about leg injuries in horses.

The information provided here is strictly educational and is not intended as medical or diagnostic advice. Any diagnosis and subsequent treatment of a leg injury must be made by an equine veterinarian.

This section is divided into multiple articles covering:

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