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Friesians Incur Different Tendon Injuries than Other Breeds

In a retrospective study based on cases presented at Utrecht, a project was undertaken for which the aim was to evaluate tendon and ligament injuries (including only those injuries that did not involve an open wound and infection) on a large group of Friesian horses and to compare those results to those documented for Warmblood (WB) and Standardbred (SB) horses from another retrospective study. 40 Friesian horses that were admitted to Utrecht University between the years of 2003-2012 with tendon and ligament injuries that were diagnosed using ultrasound were included (mean age of 10.4 years).

The results showed that 18% of these Friesian horses had injuries of their superficial digital flexor tendon (SDft), with WB reported at 32% and SB 37%. The intersesamoidean ligament was affected in 16% of these Friesians and in the hindlimbs only, while WB and SB reported NO injuries to their intersesamoidean ligaments in that referenced study. The authors concluded, “the incidence of injury to the intersesamoidean ligament was much higher in Friesian horses than in other breeds. However, injury to the SDft was much less common in Friesian horses compared to Warmbloods and Standardbreds; thus, Friesian horses seem to incur different tendon injuries than other breeds, and it is tempting to suggest that these differences are possibly related to the different biomechanical properties of their tendons.”

Hindlimb lameness in a horse can be a difficult thing to diagnose on a good day. What this study suggests is that for those Friesian horses that are found to be experiencing lameness on a hindlimb and for which the “usual suspects” are ruled out, one should consider the intersesamoidean ligament as a possibility for that lameness and have the horse worked up by a veterinarian accordingly.

Article: van Riet, MI, van den Belt, AJM, Back, W. Retrospective Study of Distal Limb Tendon and Ligament Injuries detected Using Ultrasound in Friesian Horses Admitted to a University Hospital. Proc. of European Vet Conference 2013, abstract as reprinted in IVIS.

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