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Horse Tendons: Comprehensive 4 Part Guide

July 14, 2021 Chris Price

What are Horse Tendons

A horse is held up by its tendons which keep the legs both straight and true.  Horses spend so much of their time standing up, having strong tendons is particularly important and most of the structures below the hock and knee joints are made up of tendons and ligaments. 

Horse tendons are structures that attach a muscle to the bone on which it pulls.  Muscles contract and through their attachment by tendons and ligaments can move bones, joints, and limbs.  Horse tendons are quite rigid and only very slightly flexible like tight elastic bands.

A tendon is always attached to bone through a short ligament which is much more flexible and designed not to stretch so much.- Ligaments are bands of tough elastic tissue around your joints and connect bone to bone.  

Horse Tendons

Troublesome Horse Tendons

The best known and the most troublesome horse tendons are those that run down the back of the cannon bone and attach the muscles of the upper limb to the bones in the foot.  They enable a horse to flex its foot when it is walking, trotting, or galloping along.  These tendons are called the Superficial and Deep digital flexor tendons. 

Because these flexor tendons are quite exposed at the back of the cannon bone, they are quite prone to getting damaged.  When horses land after a jump the elastic type tendons are stretched to the limit and if they are in poor shape can even ‘snap’ and wear down.  This is very serious and takes a long time to recover from if recovery is possible at all!  In the same way, constant shock from faster work on roads and hard surfaces can cause equally considerable damage. 

How to Reduce the Risk of Tendon Problems

To support your horses’ tendons, quality nutrition with supporting nutrients is advised.   If the nutrition offers enough support for a horse in sustainable normal work, horse tendon problems should be rare. Keeping nutrition tailored to your horses’ needs is the key to supporting horse tendons and overall top health.

If your horse has slightly abnormal gut bacteria (which is quite common and often inherited from their mothers), has had any antibiotics, or is subject to any unusual stresses of any kind (weather, toxins, feed problems, anxiety) it is bound to need more of certain nutrients than other horses which it cannot obtain from its pasture.  This really means that every horse needs that little bit more support from nutrients than ‘the feed books’ say. 

Some of these basic nutrients for horse tendons are: 

  1. A good broad range of minerals and vitamins that the whole body needs.  Eg Calcium, magnesium, and zinc) 
  1. Extra sulphur (in the form of MSM – Methyl Sulphonyl Methane) MSM occurs naturally in the grass but is destroyed when other types of food are heated in the feed manufacturing process 
  1. Boswellia herb for soothing soreness  
  1. Herbs to maintain correct cell division to combat stressors and renew tendon cells  
  1. such as Winter cherry (Ashwagandha) and Amla  

We provide most of these nutrients in the three forms:  1. GlobalVite 2. MSM 3. TendonEaze (herbal, including MSM) 

Whenever your horse is in hard work on hard surfaces it would be good to feed TendonEaze to ensure that any microdamage (not visible to the eye) in the tendons resolves very quickly.  The same formula is particularly good when your vet must deal with bad trauma and injury. 

Showjumpers should use TendonEaze all the time and police horses have been known to perform very well if kept on the formula when they are out at work on the roads. In fact, any horses that are subjected to working on hard ground would benefit from the Tendoneaze supplement.  

Final Thoughts

For routine situations, we would advise that you keep your horse on GlobalVite throughout the year and add in MSM when work starts or there is a danger that your horse will play around and injure himself in a field especially with field mates. 

Tendon worries can be quite complex so if you are worried please feel free to phone us straight away for more specifics on how TendonEaze can be used with normal veterinary approaches.  Stephen Ashdown MRCVS is available to explain TendonEaze or other supplements you may need advice on. 


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