Equine degenerative suspensory ligament desmitis (DSLD) is a debilitating condition that has limited response to rest and stall confinement. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that mild to moderate DSLD is not worsened by consistent exercise. Paso Fino and Peruvian Paso horses (two normal horses and four horses with DSLD) were exercised for 30 min every other day for 8 weeks and then pasture rested for 4 months. Gait analysis, radiographs, ultrasound and serum insulin and glucose concentrations were performed prior to the exercise trial and at each time point. Vertical impulse increased after 8 weeks of exercise and 4 months of pasture rest in DSLD-affected horses. Suspensory ligament fiber pattern subjectively improved with exercise in affected horses. Insulin levels significantly decreased from baseline in all horses after 4 and 8 weeks of exercise. Exercise did not seem to exacerbate and may have improved signs of DSLD in mild to moderate cases.
The Veterinary Journal