Suspensory Ligament Images

This post is to acknowledge an amazing change in one of my client’s horses.  In March 2012, the owner contacted me about thermal imaging for her horse, because nothing else was helping her.  A friend in her barn had researched Equine Thermography, and wanted to help.
When I listened to the owner, here’s what I heard about this horse…
  • She is dragging her hind toes
  • She is lame, kind of, different days it’s different, pretty sure it’s in the hind
  • It’s a mystery – what is wrong with her?
  • I know I can’t keep riding her this way
What I saw in this mare’s body when I examined her and watched her move was…
  • Yes, she sure is dragging her hind toes
    Image of Left hind leg, showing flatness of croup (topline)
  • She is very flat in the croup

  • She stands parked out (hind legs way behind the normal stance under the hip joint)

  • She has no hamstrings built up
  • She is using her strong shoulders to travel
  • Her back was very sore, tender, painful to palpation (pressing to assess pain)


Hind legs of horse, heat in medial/inside pastern & hoof not normal

I took the thermal images and the camera found inflammation in the suspensory ligament, down in the pastern area.  The images are shown here.

Hind legs of horse. Left lateral & Rt medial. Suspensory ligament below fetlock joint is abnormally hot.
Hind legs of horse. Right lateral & left medial. Suspensory ligament below fetlock joint is abnormally hot.

When we compare the two images here, we see that the forward left leg in the first image shows much more heat in the lateral/outside suspensory ligament than the forward right leg in the second image.  This is to compare the lateral aspect only.

Comparing the medial/inside aspect, we look to each image and compare the leg that is behind.  Comparing these two tells me that BOTH hind legs are showing an inflammatory process in the suspensory region.

Yes, this mare is in pain.  This can help explain why she is dragging her hind toes.  Why she is mad, and why she has become unhappy to work.

Note that the temperature scales in these two images are the same.  Without this constant, a comparison would not be fair.

Now, we jump 9 weeks later, to the happy place.  The owner did a fabulous and AMAZING job with rehab and physical therapy for this horse.  The first 5 days or so included cold hosing for her legs.  She was laid off the arena exercise program, and began hill climbing with this horse in her ideal “hilly” barn location.  Also, whenever she groomed or handled the mare, she was to place the mare’s hind legs closer to the fronts – basically asking the horse to stand under herself with more collection.

My thinking in all of this was to strenthen the quadriceps muscles of the legs, the hamstrings, and the abdominal obliques.  These were all under used by the mare’s natural way of traveling.

WOW! did it work!  When I arrived after 9 weeks, this mare looked different.  In addition to strengthening those large muscles of the hind quarters, we also have a very different neck now.  Her neck was skinny, under muscles, and looked strange.  Now it is balanced and beautifully proportioned to her shoulder and body.

I am so grateful to you, wonderful owner, and you know who you are!!  Blue ribbon – Most Improved – Absolutely transfomed a horse in 9 weeks. All from changing what had been done, and resting the injured legs.

Topics on this page: mystery lameness horse | suspensory ligament horse | thermal imaging oregon

Call Miriah at 503-980-8739 to discuss your horse’s mysterly lameness.

Thermography can help!