10 Feb 2022

Preventing Common Injuries in Show Horses with Elite Equine


Show horses live an active lifestyle that can put excess strain on their joints and muscles. Injuries are especially common in jumpers, hunters, and equitation horses that engage in swift and repetitive movements that can stress the tendons and ligaments that support a horse’s legs.

It is not uncommon for show horses to suffer an injury at one point or another, but usually are able to continue in their careers. However, it is important to take the necessary steps to achieve a full recovery and prevent recurrences in the future. Learn more about common injuries in show horses and how to support equine health and mobility:

Joint Problems

Show horses are highly susceptible to joint problems. Frequent jumping puts excess pressure on the joints and over time, can contribute to degenerative joint disease (DJD) or osteoarthritis. Locations such as the ankles and hocks are common areas of degeneration; however, DJD can develop in any joint.

Joint problems in horses often occur gradually. You may notice minor signs of discomfort, such as soreness or stiffness. These symptoms may even improve with rest but will usually return. As the condition progresses, heat and swelling can affect the joint and your horse’s performance will ultimately suffer.

Sore Feet

Your horse’s feet take the brunt of the landing while jumping. Although the hoof is designed to handle this type of shock, the ligaments and tendons can suffer tears and strains. Inflammation in the navicular bursa or coffin joint can also develop due to pressure on the deep digital flexor tendon.

It can be difficult to identify these injuries at first as the injured structures are concealed by the hoof capsule. As this type of injury typically involves both feet, the horse may not be lame but move with shorter strides. The horse may rest a front foot at times or shift weight from one foot to another while standing.

Suspensory Ligament Tears

The suspensory ligament is responsible for supporting the ankle joint and can take the weight of a horse when it walks, runs, and jumps. The ligament begins just below the knee and divides into two branches that pass behind the ankle. When the suspensory ligament is strained, it can suffer a tear.

Suspensory ligament tears can cause a horse to suddenly go lame. It is important to identify the problem as early as possible to increase the odds of a full recovery. In the early stages, the injury may be mild with a few torn fibers; however, in severe cases, the ligament could rupture.

Preventing Injury

While it is not always possible to avoid the risk of injury to a show horse altogether, there are things that horse owners can do to minimize these risks. First, do not overtrain a horse. Keep the work within his ability and stay alert for signs of trouble, such as heat, swelling, or sensitivity. If you suspect that the horse has suffered an injury, give him a few days off to recover.

Next, keep up with shoeing. Low heels and long toes can put undue stress on the horse’s feet and the ligaments, tendons, and joints in the legs. Ensure that the feet are trimmed regularly to keep the toes short. Use shoes with rolled toes if necessary to ease break over. Use protective boots or wraps when in heavy work to minimize injuries from the horse striking itself or hitting a leg on a jump.

Finally, provide your show horse with the dietary support it needs for all-around health and wellbeing. Elite Equine provides an organic supplement for horses that acts as a powerful natural antioxidant to support the horse’s immune system. Made with 100 percent rosehip powder, this natural joint supplement has been known to help with joint mobility and the healthy development of hooves and bones. Packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, Elite Equine aids in the horse’s own immune system recovery from the wear and tear of competing. Competition legal, and no additional filler added, Elite Equine is trusted by American horse owners to provide the extra care their horses need.