Veterinarian explains the danger of tendon injuries in horses


by Karma Dickerson

Posted on June 8, 2012 at 11:49 PM

Updated Saturday, Jun 9 at 12:00 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS 11) -- Impressive wins at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes had race fans hoping they'd see the first Triple Crown victory in 34 years.  However I’ll Have Another’s tendon injury has dashed those hopes. 

WHAS11’s Karma Dickerson spoke to a veterinarian who works on the backside at Churchill Downs about how dangerous a tendon injury can be for a race horse.

On the eve of the Belmont Stakes, spectators cheered on their picks at Churchill Downs. But for some, the race has lost its luster since a Triple Crown victory is no longer a possibility.

“I had high hopes for him. He was carrying all of us on his back, so we're all devastated”, said Dr. Foster Northrop.

Dr. Northrop isn't just disappointed as a fan, but as a veterinarian on the backside he works to keep and heal horses from injury.  Injuries such as the beginnings of tendonitis that caused I’ll Have Another to scratch from the Belmont Stakes.

Moving at around 40 miles an hour, race horses rely on tendons to absorb the impact on their bodies. Doctor Northrop has not examined the Preakness and Derby winner, but says tendon injuries can vary drastically.

In a news conference Friday afternoon, I’ll Have Another's trainer said they'd seen signs of an injury Thursday.

“In the afternoon we noticed some loss of definition in his left front leg”, said trainer Doug O’Neil.

When the swelling returned, they decided to pull the two-time champion.

Dr. Foster showed us an ultra sound of a healthy tendon, and then a torn-or bowed tendon which he says, would have been the worst case scenario had I’ll Have Another raced with even a mild tendon injury.

“They obviously made the best decision...though it's devastating”, said Northrop.