As with any other athlete, horses can become suddenly ill or injured. With modern veterinary advances, injuries that were once untreatable have become more manageable and many horses are able to return to racing or move on to a new career after the required rehabilitation. Listed below are some of the most common injuries:
A bone chip a small fragment of bone chipped off of a joint that may or may not require removal. If the chip remains attached or close to the area it has come off it usually does not affect the horse’s movement. However, if the chip floats off, it can be painful to the horse and will have to be removed, usually arthroscopically. This is not usually a career ending injury
Characterized by inflammation and swelling of the flexor tendon on the back of the lower leg, a bowed tendon usually occurs when excess repeated strain is placed on the leg. Once the fibers in the tendon have been overstretched, they do not heal as they once were, leading to an inherent weakness in the leg. Depending on the severity of the bow, a horse might come back from this injury, but usually not to the level at which it once performed.
A fracture is general term for a break in the bone. Many horses are able to come back from a fracture if it is not complex and the rehabilitation process goes well. However, some fractures can be career ending; it all depends on the location of the injury, the severity, and the personality of the horse during the rehabilitation process.
A grabbed quarter is a tear in the heel of a hoof, due to being stepped on by a hind leg or another horse’s front leg; this is an injury that is most commonly seen when horses break from the gate. This is rarely a career-ending injury, though the time it takes for the horse to return to training depends on the severity of the grab.
This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent an injury or illness in your horse. Please work with your chosen professionals to best manage your horse(s) and give them the best possible outcome.