Performance Horse Leg Problems
By professional horse trainer, Larry Trocha.
If you ride in reining, cutting, barrel racing, roping or any activity that puts a lot of strain on your horse’s legs, the information you’re about to read could really help your horse.
Dear friend and horseman,
Larry Trocha here.
If you’ve been with me awhile, you know the majority of horses I train are cutters and reiners.
I’ve also trained my fair share of barrel horses too.
Those three disciplines are some of the most demanding on the horse’s body when it comes to athletic ability and physical stress.
I’ve been lucky.
Very, very few of my horses have ever gotten hurt or gone lame.
However, I’ve had plenty of horses brought to me that came from other trainer’s barns that WERE hurt.
They’ve come with bowed tendons, torn suspensory ligaments, curbs, strained check-ligaments, navicular syndrome, strained ham strings and the list goes on.
Of all these ailments… strained or torn SUSPENSORY LIGAMENTS are the most common and the most frustrating.
To tell you the truth, if you’re riding a good athlete who possesses a lot of “try”, injuring a suspensory can be pretty easy to do.
It can happen in the blink of an eye and… they take a long, long time to heal.
HERE’S THE PROBLEM
On average, it takes 9 to 12 months of absolute rest for a suspensory ligament to heal right.
To make matters worse, if that suspensory develops scar tissue as it heals, there’s a good chance it’ll be injured AGAIN.
A torn suspensory to your show horse or a horse on schedule to go to a futurity, can certainly be the kiss of death.
If there was ever an injury you want to prevent, this is definitely the one.
Now, I can tell you right off the bat, I’m going to receive a lot of emails in response to me writing this.
Most of them are going to say…
“Well, if those horses had good “BONE” they wouldn’t be going lame like this”.
My response is… “Good bone has nothing to do with digital tendon or suspensory ligament injuries”.
The only thing related to bones that could be a contributing factor, would be pastern bones that are too long.
Here’s the other comment I’m going to receive…
“If those horses were trained and handled right, they wouldn’t be getting hurt”.
Here’s my response to that… I go to great lengths to take good care of the horses I have in training.
As a result, very few of my horses get hurt. Inevitably, it’s going to happen occasionally, though.
Performance horses are ATHLETES engaged in an ATHLETIC ACTIVITY.
Equine athletes, just like human athletes sometimes get hurt. That’s reality.
The only athletes that never risk injury are the ones that never perform well enough to win anything.
Let me translate that.
The really good horses are always at risk of injury because they try hard.
Mediocre horses never get injured.
Why? Because mediocre horses seldom put out much effort.
HERE’S WHAT CAUSES THE LEG INJURIES
Let me explain what CAUSES these kind of ligament and tendon injuries.
In most cases, injury is caused by the horse’s fetlock joint HYPER-EXTENDING (dropping down too low).
This hyper-extension taxes the ligaments and tendons beyond their capacity.
Next thing you know, the ligament or tendon is either badly strained or actually torn.
Either way, it’s bad news.
What causes the fetlock to hyper-extend?
It’s usually caused by the horse exerting a lot of effort while performing… a reining horse doing a hard stop or fast spin, a cutting horse holding a tough cow or a barrel horse making a sharp turn around a barrel at high speed.
All these activities (or others like them) can cause the fetlock to hyper-extend and result in an injury.
Also, asking a horse to perform when he’s exhausted or fatigued will greatly increase the chance of injury.
PREVENTING THE INJURIES
In the past, I tried to prevent ligament and tendon problems by “wrapping” my horse’s legs.
Especially, if I was going to be doing stops or spins.
I’d use top quality polo wraps and I’d apply them with a special “wrapping pattern” that helped prevent the fetlock from dropping too much.
In my DVD, Teach Your Horse to Rollback and Spin, I demonstrate how I wrap a horse’s legs like this.
Unfortunately, there are two big problems related to wrapping.
#1. Unless you apply the wrapping pattern EXACTLY the way I demonstrate, the wraps really aren’t going to do much good.
#2. What’s even worse, if the wraps aren’t applied with smooth, over-lapping, even pressure, they will cause the horse to BANDAGE BOW.
Wrap your horse’s legs WRONG and you can bow his tendons just from applying the wraps!
Makes most people shy away from even attempting it.
If you go to the big money shows, you’ll see a lot of the horses being ridden with their legs wrapped.
The trainers do this in hopes of preventing injury.
In reality, 80% of those horses are wrapped in a way that’s not going to prevent anything.
They are applying the polo wraps by simply going around and around the leg… a simple compression bandage.
If you’re going to do any good, you have to apply the wraps in a way that LIFTS UP on the fetlock and prevents it from dropping too far.
Few people understand how to do this.
I was fortunate to learn it many years ago from a race horse trainer who owned cutting horses as a hobby.
By the way, I wouldn’t trust wrapping instructions from anybody except an unquestionable expert.
Many of the people posting “wrapping” videos on websites like youtube or expert village, probably aren’t that expert. (Strictly my opinion).
I should also point out that polo wraps have their limitations.
While they can help a horse to a certain degree, they are by no means an ideal solution.
POPULAR NAME-BRAND SPLINT & SUPPORT BOOTS… REAL HELP OR FALSE SECURITY?
As an alternative to wrapping, most folks will use splint or support boots.
You know… those real popular ones which CLAIM to support the fetlock and keep it from hyper-extending.
I’ve checked them out and I have to tell you… I seriously have my doubts.
You don’t need to be a structural engineer to see their short-comings.
I actually know one of the vets who was on the research and development team for these boots.
The vet told me, tests showed those boots help the horse’s ligaments and tendons about 10%.
Personally, I suspect that’s not enough. Not enough to do much practical good in the real world of show competition.
What these boots do well is… they greatly reduce the concussion of a blow to the leg.
If you have a horse who bangs his legs together or strikes his leg with the opposite hoof, these boots offer good protection.
That’s as far as they go, though.
A NEW KIND OF SUPPORT BOOT INTRODUCED… THERE MAY BE HOPE!
I was at a big show a while back when a guy walked up to me and introduced himself.
He said he had a new type of support boot that greatly reduces the chance of injury to ligaments and tendons.
He told me the name of the company but I’d never heard of them.
In my usual not-so-tactful way, I gave him a look of doubt.
He wasn’t deterred though.
He said, “if I give you a set of these boots, will you give them an honest try”?
I replied, “maybe, if they look like they have a chance of working”.
Long story short, those boots DID look like they might work so I tried them on a bunch of my horses.
Right now, at this point in time… I’m pretty darn convinced they are the best support boots I’ve ever tried.
Earlier in this email, I mentioned I know the vet that helped research and test those “name-brand” splint boots.
Well, I showed these new support boots to that vet.
The vets reaction… “Those are the best designed boots I’ve ever seen. Where can I get them”?
Now, just so there are NO misunderstandings…
I’m NOT saying these boots will eliminate ALL leg injuries.
I doubt any boot will ever be able to do that.
What I AM saying is these boots have a better CHANCE of doing some GOOD than any other boot I’ve tried.
And I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Mike Tomlinson DVM MBA, veterinarian to the United States Equestrian Team, whole heartedly recommends this boot.
And it’s the ONLY boot he recommends.
Well known performance horse vet, Chris Ray DVM of Equine Sports Medicine & Surgery, also exclusively prescribes these boots.
And so do many other veterinarians as well as many horse trainers.
WATCH THE VIDEOS… THEN, GET THE BOOTS
On my website, I’ve posted some videos of the boots in action.
Here’s the link to see the boots in action:
You’ll see the inventor of the boots (a horse trainer) explaining why the boots work so well.
He also demonstrates how to CORRECTLY put them on your horse.
After watching the videos, if you like what you see, click the “ADD TO CART” button and order a set.
If you’re anything like me and care about your horse’s physical well-being, you’re gonna like them.
Again, here’s the link to check out the boots:
Larry Trocha Training Stable
24846 N. Tully Rd. Acampo, CA 95220