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Also Known As

Sprained plantar ligament, Thickened plantar ligament


Curb occurs when the plantar ligament, a tough band of tissue that runs down behind the hock and helps maintain its stability, becomes thickened and/or enlarged. Curb may be caused by a sprain that results from a horse kicking walls, going too strongly over a jump, pulling up on the haunches too severely, or through other causes. Occasionally a foal with faulty conformation is born with a curb-like condition. Horses that tend to have 'cow hocks' or 'curby hocks' are also prone to development of curb.


  • Lameness
  • Evidence of pain
  • Swelling of the plantar ligament
  • Thickened tissues at the site of the plantar ligament


Causes of curb include conformation defects and sprains to the plantar ligament.


When the curb occurs because of the conformation of the horse, little can be done to prevent curb beyond taking precautions when exercising or working the horse to make sure the plantar ligament is not worked or exercised beyond its capacity to withstand the stress.

For horses with good conformation, preventing any action that puts excessive strain on the limbs is the best prevention. Good conditioning and awareness of the physical capabilities of the horse can help reduce the instances of curb that result in down-time for the horse.


As with other sprains, treatment of curb begins with adequate rest of the affected limb. Ice packs should be applied for up to 30 minutes three or four times a day and the limb should be wrapped between treatments to reduce swelling. After two days of treatment, alternative temperature therapy along with oral and topical anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and swelling are usually prescribed. Some veterinarians may inject hyaluronic acid around the ligament.

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EquiMed staff writers team up to provide articles that require periodic updates based on evolving methods of equine healthcare. Compendia articles, core healthcare topics and more are written and updated as a group effort. Our review process includes an important veterinarian review, helping to assure the content is consistent with the latest understanding from a medical professional.