Suspensory Ligament Injuries

I am considering a 9 year old mare, as a horse for my daughter and future grandchildren. The mare has seen a vet for a torn suspensory ligament. I have met the horse and was impressed with her disposition. I noted the ‘droopy’ hind foot when I watched her walk. My concern is of safety for my daughter and future grandchildren. I did some internet research of this injury, and am now leery of using the mare. We are pleasure riders only, and the mare would be ridden lightly. Loping in a pasture and some light trail rides would be considered. I fear this mare could possibly reinjure her ligaments, causing us to stable her and not use her as we would desire.

What is the mare’s prognosis? How safe would she be? What is the likelihood of reinjuring the leg? Does she require special shoes?

To be able to answer the specific questions above, we would need to see and examine the horse in question. But certainly we can cover the general information about suspensory ligament desmitis (inflammation of the suspensory ligament). Suspensory ligament injuries can be very difficult for a horse to return to full work. There are a couple of possible scenarios leading to these injuries. The first is trauma induced (like a sprain), and the second is a degenerative disease (though this usually occurs in multiple limbs). According to some texts, approximately 55% of all horses with a traumatic suspensory injury can return to their original use levels.
With the information given above, there is certainly a high index of suspicion of a traumatic injury, which has not completely healed. In this case, a lameness exam would allow us to accurately assess and diagnose the condition of this horse. With the exam, a veterinarian would have a better idea as to the nature of the injury, and the long term effects, including prognosis for use or possibility for re-injury.

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