Despite the numerous safety precautions and protective gear available, horses are still prone to injuries. In the world of Western performance, there are several injuries that are particularly common. In this blog post, we will explore the top 4 injuries in Western performance horses, their causes, and how to prevent them.
1. Suspensory Ligament Injuries
The suspensory ligament is responsible for supporting the horse’s fetlock joint, and it is one of the most commonly injured structures in the equine limb. This injury is caused by a sudden, traumatic force to the leg, such as landing from a jump or sliding to a stop. Overuse can also contribute to this injury, especially in horses that are worked hard or have poor conformation. The symptoms of a suspensory ligament injury include swelling, heat, and lameness.
Prevention: The best way to prevent suspensory ligament injuries is to ensure proper conditioning and training. Gradual increases in workload, regular veterinary check-ups, and the use of supportive leg wraps and boots can also help reduce the risk of injury.
Tendinitis is the inflammation of a tendon and is another common injury in Western performance horses. This injury can occur in any of the horse’s tendons, but it most commonly affects the front legs. Tendinitis is often caused by overuse or repetitive strain and can lead to lameness, swelling, and heat in the affected area.
Prevention: Proper conditioning and training, as well as regular veterinary check-ups, can help prevent tendinitis. Proper nutrition and supplementation can also help keep tendons strong and healthy.
3. Back Injuries
Western performance horses are often asked to perform maneuvers that put significant stress on their backs, such as spinning, sliding stops, and rollbacks. As a result, back injuries are common in these horses. The symptoms of back injuries can range from mild soreness to severe lameness and can be difficult to diagnose.
Prevention: Regular veterinary check-ups and chiropractic care can help prevent and diagnose back injuries. Proper conditioning and training, as well as the use of supportive gear such as saddle pads and back braces, can also help prevent back injuries.
4. Joint Injuries
Joint injuries are a common occurrence in Western performance horses due to the strain placed on their joints during maneuvers such as sliding stops and spins. These injuries can occur in any of the horse’s joints, including the hocks and stifles. The symptoms of joint injuries include lameness, swelling, and heat in the affected area.
Prevention: Proper conditioning and training, as well as regular veterinary check-ups, can help prevent joint injuries. Proper nutrition and supplementation can also help keep joints strong and healthy.
In conclusion, injuries are an unfortunate reality for all horses. However, with proper conditioning and training, regular veterinary check-ups, and the use of supportive gear, these injuries can often be prevented or minimized. If you suspect that your horse is suffering from any of the injuries mentioned here, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately to ensure a full recovery.