What is a ligament?

The musculoskeletal system is made up of ligaments, tendons, bones, joints, muscles and more. Everything in this system is responsible for either giving the body structor or for movement. The topic today: What is a ligament? 

We hear the word ligament all the time with horses, but, do we really know what our trainers and vets are referring to? Because this structure is so important to the equine athletes body, below are a couple helpful pieces of information to know.

Ligaments connect bones or cartilage to strengthen joints.

Don’t rush a horses fitness and conditioning program. If the horse does not have enough time to develop to his full athletic capacity, they will be more prone to injury. 

Ligaments stabilize joints and protect them from overextending, over-flexing, or twisting.

The strength of a horses ligaments and tendons lag behind that of other soft tissues. Due to their importance in the horses leg during exercise, these structures take several months to strengthen and should be conditioned properly. 

Unlike tendons, ligaments are not elastic and can stretch and tear more easily. (Read more about tendons in our article “What is a tendon?”

Ligaments are not as elastic as tendons, making them a more prone injury spot. When ligaments are taxed beyond their limits, they sustain damage that results in lameness, poor performance, and diminished athletic ability.

Injured ligaments are prone to reinjury. Elasticity of the ligament is almost always compromised after injury. 

While they are slow to strengthen, ligaments are even slower to heal from injury. Damage due to rushed training or improper conditioning can lead to irreparable harm such as high suspensory ligament injuries. 

*All information has been sourced from the USHJA Trainer Certification Manual and Study Guide– IF you have any serious inquiries about your horses health and wellness please content your veterinarian immediately. *

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