Case Study: Utilizing Massage and Kinesiology Tape on a Horse with a Fetlock and Suspensory Ligament Injury
Performed and written by Shawn Klahr
6 year old QH mare used for driving presents with a limp and right front leg turned inward. Owner suspected that she slipped on ice. Owner opted to not consult with a veterinarian.
Palpation revealed swelling and pain at the right suspensory ligament and deep digital flexor tendon. Hypertonic muscles were also found in the neck, chest, shoulders and front legs.
Full body massage was performed, focusing on the tight areas found during palpation. Kinesiology tape was then applied to support the leg.
Shawn's tape application:
"I carefully cleaned the horse up, removing as much dirt and shedding fur as possible. Being that this horse would be out in the elements and in the mud, after a regular cleaning with a brush, I then used baby powder on the area that I needed to tape. I rubbed the powder in so it could soak up any moisture that may be there. After a few minutes, I then brushed away all the powder followed by wiping the area clean with a microfiber towel to ensure that the tape would adhere for as long as possible. Once the horse was prepped for taping, I began to apply the tape treatment. Since I suspect that the suspensory ligament is also affected, I made sure the “I” tapes were cut a little longer so that they could overlap under the fetlock applying both ends to the wall of the hoof.
I supported the fetlock with 50-75% stretch, with the middle of the tape at the center of the fetlock; I applied with a slight upward and forward angle . Then I applied a second support tape with less stretch, at a minimal angle.
Using two “I” tapes, I applied the first one as follows: first 2 inches with no stretch starting just below the carpal joint on the lateral side of the right front leg and behind the cannon bone. Then applied the tape up to the last 2 inches with 50% stretch from top to bottom along the deep digital flexor tendon. Then the last 2 inches were applied with no stretch below the fetlock. I then applied the second “I” tape in the exact same way but on the medial side of the left so that the inside and the outside both looked identical.
To secure the application I used two anchors. The first was applied with no stretch all the way around the leg at the carpal joint and the second was applied around the fetlock.
*Above you will see the tape application used. This particular application was performed on a different horse to demonstrate for this case study.
This process was repeated 3x a week for 6 weeks due to the horse being on 24/7 turnout (tape did not last as long). Horse was massaged each time prior to taping. By the end of the 6 weeks, her leg was straight again and she was walking normal.
Owner recommendations: The owner wanted to take her on a wagon train 5 months after her treatments ended. I strongly urged him to not go as I felt she needed more time to heal, but if he felt that he needed to, he would need to use medicine boots on her front legs and take breaks to allow her to rest and he would need to massage her leg at each break.
Dr. Angelique Barbara is the founder of Angel's Animals LLC, a company that has developed online animal bodywork courses for both owners and professionals. Dr. Barbara's unique teaching style along with the dynamic layout of the courses allows people of different educational backgrounds from all over the world to benefit from her knowledge.