Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Pain Response to Pressure on Flexor Tendons or Suspensory Ligament

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If you notice swelling of the painful area, or notice any lameness.

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

  • Even if the horse does not appear to be lame to you.

The flexor tendons on the rear of the front and hind lower limbs are vital anatomic structures for the support of the lower limb. Horses are sensitive to grasping pressure on these structures. Horse people commonly squeeze these tendons between thumb and fingers to encourage horses to raise their limbs. Injuries and certain other conditions can cause a horse to react excessively when pressure is applied to these tendons.

WHAT TO DO

Evaluate the apparently sensitive area for swelling and heat. Carefully compare the size and skin temperature of that area to the same location on the opposite limb. Assess the horse for lameness at the walk and trot. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

It can be difficult to distinguish between a normal (and desired) response, and a pain response. If you believe that the pressure you are placing on your horse’s tendons is causing undue pain or is simply not normal, compare the horse’s response to that of the other limbs. Is the response consistent left to right, or is it consistently greater in the suspected limb?

Keep in mind that a nerve passes horizontally across the middle region of the rear part of the flexor tendons. It feels like a thin cord under the skin at this level. This location is particularly sensitive to pinching pressure.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet may advise you to monitor the horse for awhile, if this is the only sign you see, and particularly if you don’t notice lameness. If there is any concern, your vet evaluates the area and performs a lameness exam. Our most sensitive diagnostic method for assessing the flexor tendons and ligaments of the lower limb is ultrasound.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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