I was lucky enough to manage to see Dr David Marlin on the Trilanco stand in a quiet period at BETA, and he very kindly chatted to me about tendons (sdft and ddft), one of my areas of extreme nerdism! Seriously though, any event rider will probably already know that these tendons are pretty much the most vulnerable areas of the horse’s entire body. In his words, “Lower forelimbs are the most likely sites of horse injury.” So, it behoves us all to pay a lot of attention to protecting them in the best way possible.
He has done excellent studies into the effects of different boots, into cooling tendons effectively, and much more (he spoke at length at the big USCTA conference a few years ago, and I viewed the videos online).
At BETA he divulged the following:
Walk is more effort for a horse than trot or canter. (Gallop requires the most energy expenditure of all.) At trot and canter, the tendons store and release energy (making the next stride less effort) but this does not happen at walk, hence the amount of effort expended. (The least energy is apparently expended at an easy canter.)
He advocates lots of walking.
A couple of minutes of trotting a day on the road is enough for bone strengthening, any more than that is more likely to cause concussion injuries.
He has done extensive studies on boots.
Be as light as possible.
Allow as much heat as possible to escape
Be non-absorbent (so they don’t get heavier after going through water)
Not restrict at all (not fitted too tight, carefully contoured around the joints).
Be protective against concussion from impacts AND cut/penetration.
He recommended removing boots as soon as possible after work, to let the tendons start cooling (and so you can apply ice etc.)
He believes there should be a definite Standard for horse boots, a Rating System (as there is for riding hats and body protectors for riders), since horse boots are Protective Wear.
The Rating should be for light or heavy work, depending on the intensity and risk of the discipline the boots are going to be used for, and the potential of a career/life threatening injury.
There is a welfare point of view here. Lower limb injuries are the most common for competition horses. Why is there no Rating system to protect them, and to guide buyers?