Sometimes the most basic things are subject to great mysteries, even to vast legends. This is why in this article we are basing ourselves on a phenomenon whose only word makes riders and owners tremble: TENDINITY!
When we talk about tendinitis, we mean an inflammation of the tendons. Tendons are made up of collagen fibres, organised in a three-strand helix and containing cells (fibroblasts and tenocytes) in a matrix composed of water, amino acids and glycoproteins. Tendinitis (or tendinopathy) corresponds to a partial or total rupture of these fibres.
If you are attentive to your horse, some clinical signs allow you to easily spot it: redness, heat, pain (on palpation but not always associated lameness) and swelling (swelling or oedema).
The tendon, like a large spring, is capable of returning more energy than it receives. This is because its locomotor system dampens the force of muscle contraction, its own weight and speed. The tendons will then store this "triple energy" and send it back violently, allowing propulsion.
What are the most common causes of tendonitis?
Obviously, the causes are multiple and depend on each horse. However, here are some fairly common ones. At the head of the ranking is the one linked to tendon fatigue, resulting from muscular fatigue. The fibres making up the tendon are damaged, they become inflamed and damaged over time and the horse's movements. This can be due to repeated exercises that are too intense or too rapid warm-ups.
Some horses are knocked or panicky and therefore more prone to tendinopathies because the loads and forces involved in the locomotor system are poorly distributed.
Feeding and the quality of the infrastructure (especially the soil) are also real issues, as they play a major role in the development of locomotor problems.
There are 4 types of tendinitis relative to the degree of rupture of collagen fibres.
Type I: partial rupture with possible pain at the beginning of the horse's work, disappearing during warm-up.
Type II : partial rupture with persistent pain during the horse's work, which may increase with the intensity of the effort.
Type III : partial rupture with permanent and intense pain, preventing the horse from training.
Type IV : total rupture of the fibres, making movement impossible and possibly requiring surgery.
What are the symptoms?
I would strongly advise you to touch your horse's limbs at the end of each work session. This will enable you to spot the first signs of inflammation (redness, heat, pain, oedema), characterised by an area of heat or swelling that is sensitive to touch. Be aware that tendinitis does not necessarily mean lameness!
The best solution is therefore to warn your veterinarian as soon as possible in order to avoid the self-aggressive phenomenon of tendinitis.