Is it Worth Buying a Horse with a Suspensory Ligament Injury

Is it Worth Buying a Horse with a Suspensory Ligament Injury?

by | Jun 21, 2023 | Blog

The beauty and grace of horses have fascinated humans for millennia. Their sleek power and gentle temperament make them ideal companions and athletes in a range of sporting pursuits. However, like any athlete, horses too are susceptible to injuries, especially those affecting their intricate musculoskeletal system. One such common injury that many horse owners or prospective horse owners may encounter is a suspensory ligament injury. This brings us to an important question – is it worth buying a horse with a suspensory ligament injury? Let’s delve into this topic, exploring the complexities of suspensory ligament injuries, the prognosis, treatment options, and potential for recovery.

Understanding Suspensory Ligament Injuries

The suspensory ligament is a critical component of a horse’s anatomy, providing support to the fetlock and preventing overextension during movement. Like a tightly coiled spring, it allows for the absorption and subsequent release of energy, facilitating the horse’s elegant and powerful stride. Suspensory ligament injuries occur when this ligament is overstretched or torn, typically resulting from high-speed activities, poor shoeing, or irregular foot conformation. Symptoms can range from mild lameness to an inability to bear weight, often accompanied by swelling or heat in the lower leg.

In understanding the anatomy, it is helpful to use resources for better visualization. The book “Essentials of Clinical Anatomy of the Equine Locomotor System” is a useful tool for novices and experts alike to explore the intricate structures of a horse’s leg, including the suspensory ligament.

The Diagnosis and Prognosis of Suspensory Ligament Injuries

Detecting a suspensory ligament injury requires a combination of physical examination and advanced imaging techniques. Palpation and flexion tests may give the initial hint of a problem, but the definitive diagnosis typically involves the use of ultrasound or MRI technology.

Once a suspensory ligament injury is diagnosed, it’s crucial to understand the prognosis. Like many soft tissue injuries, the prognosis depends on the severity and location of the injury, the horse’s overall health and age, and the treatment regimen implemented. While some horses may never return to their previous levels of activity, others may recover fully with appropriate treatment and rest. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that even with complete recovery, the likelihood of reinjury is high due to the ligament’s structural changes post-injury.

Video showcasing this injury and additional information:

Treatment, Rehabilitation, and the Potential for Re-Injury

Once a diagnosis of a suspensory ligament injury has been confirmed, the path to recovery involves a meticulously planned treatment and rehabilitation process. The precise treatment method will depend on the severity and location of the injury but typically starts with the application of cold therapy and anti-inflammatory medication to control initial swelling and pain. Therapeutic tools like the “Horseware ICE-VIBE Boots 2pk” can be incredibly useful for delivering a uniform and constant cold treatment over the affected area.

In many cases, the horse will also need to undergo a period of stall rest to prevent further injury. During this period, measures to reduce boredom and stress, such as stable toys from “Likit Products” (be sure to get a refill as well), can help maintain a positive mental state for the horse, which is crucial for a successful recovery.

When veterinarians determine that the inflammation has significantly reduced, rehabilitation starts. Initially, this may involve hand-walking or restricted turnout, gradually building up to more strenuous activity. For this purpose, one may consider tools such as the “Tough 1 Knotted Rope & Twisted Crown Training Halter” that aids in controlling the horse during these rehabilitative walks.

A pivotal component of the healing process is physiotherapy. Devices like the “Equilibrium Therapy Massage Pad” can play a significant role by improving circulation and relaxing the horse’s back muscles, indirectly supporting the healing process of the suspensory ligament. As well as the “Equilibrium Therapy Magnetic Front Chaps” for directly massaging the legs. Be sure to consult your vet before using any of these products.

If your horse is suffering from a severe or chronic injury, you may need to consider surgical intervention. Consult your vet on possible options: Techniques like Neurectomy or Fasciotomy and Desmotomy of the Inferior Check Ligament (FDIC) can provide an improved prognosis in such cases.

Despite the best efforts, there is always a possibility of re-injury. The risk of re-injury is particularly high in the initial phases of recovery, but it can remain a concern even after the ligament has ostensibly healed due to the formation of scar tissue, which is not as elastic or strong as the original ligament tissue. Regular monitoring using ultrasound can help keep a vigilant eye on the healing process and ensure that you catch any sign of re-injury early.

In the end, the journey to recovery is as much about patience and perseverance as it is about treatments and therapies. Remember, each horse is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. However, with the right approach, a horse with a suspensory ligament injury can certainly hope to return to a comfortable, if not performance, lifestyle.

The Cost of Treating a Suspensory Ligament Injury and the Role of Insurance

Treating a suspensory ligament injury can be an expensive affair. Between diagnostic tests, treatment procedures, medications, and follow-up visits, the costs can quickly add up. Additionally, the need for extended rest periods may also mean a significant loss of income for sport or working horses. To help shoulder these financial burdens, equine insurance is an option worth considering.

However, insurance isn’t the only route to manage costs. Prevention is better than cure. Investing in quality equipment, can support the horse’s natural hoof mechanism, potentially reducing the likelihood of injuries.

Making the Decision: Buying vs. Not Buying – Factors to Consider

The decision to buy a horse with a suspensory ligament injury shouldn’t be taken lightly. The road to recovery may be long and winding, with no guarantee of a complete return to previous levels of performance. However, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Several factors can tip the balance in favor of such a purchase. Perhaps the horse has exceptional bloodlines for breeding purposes, or its personality makes it an excellent fit for therapy work or as a companion animal. A willing and patient buyer could also rehab the horse, with the goal of lower-level riding or a second career.


In the final analysis, the decision to buy a horse with a suspensory ligament injury is intensely personal and depends on several factors. The horse’s prognosis, the buyer’s capabilities (both financial and experiential), and the intended use for the horse are all crucial aspects to consider.

Indeed, owning a horse is a labor of love, demanding both emotional and financial investments. While a suspensory ligament injury may complicate this ownership, it doesn’t necessarily negate the potential for a rewarding relationship with the horse.

So, is it worth buying a horse with a suspensory ligament injury? The answer, as is often the case with such complex questions, is: it depends. But armed with the right knowledge and resources, you can make an informed decision, ensuring the best outcome for both you and your potential equine partner.

Remember, the journey with a horse is often measured in strides and not just finish lines. Despite the challenges that may come with a suspensory ligament injury, the rewards – a trusted companion, a beautiful creature to care for, and the opportunity to learn and grow – can be immeasurable.

About The Author

<a href="" target="_self">Issabella Mitchel</a>

Issabella Mitchel

Isabella is a remarkable equestrian and racehorse trainer, hailing from the horse capital of the world, Kentucky. Growing up in the heart of bluegrass country, she developed a deep affinity for horses from an early age.

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