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The tendons of the lower leg are one of the most crucial parts of the equine anatomy. Responsible for the elastic recall crucial for locomotion, healthy tendons are mandatory for a sound horse.
The equine limb consists of two groups of tendons, the flexors and extensors. Tendons originate from muscles above the carpus and hock; they are secured by optimally placed retinaculi as they coarse distally to their insertion. The hind superficial digital flexor tendon has medial and lateral attachment to the calcaneus of the hock. The five extensor tendons are located on the front of the forelimb, and include the digital extensor tendon, which runs along the length of the leg, while the flexors are on the backside. The flexor tendons consist of the superficial digital flexor and the deep digital flexor.
At the February 2014 International Hoof-Care Summit, Metamora, Mich., equine veterinarian Roland Thaler spoke about tendon injuries and how farriers can assist in their treatment.
“My job with this presentation isn’t so much how to shoe horses, but rather what can we do to optimize the tendon healing process,” says Thaler.
Tendons have a winded helix of structure that allows them to bear a load. They also have two distinct functions. The extensor tendons in the front of the leg are responsible for mobilization. When the muscle contracts, the tendons protract.
“The extensor tendons provide little support function,” says Thaler.
“On the other hand, flexor tendons located in the back of the leg, such as…