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Tendons and ligaments of the lower leg

The muscles in the foreleg are very strong as they are made up of densly packed fibres.

Tendon or ligament

Origin / where it starts

Insertion point; where it finishes



Common digital flexor ( CDFT)

Common digital flexor muscle

Front of the short pastern bone and the centre of the pedal bone

Lifts the toe, extends bones of the foot.

Lateral digital flexor tendon


Lateral digital flexor muscle

Outside of the long pastern bone

Helps the CDFT lift the toe and extend the bones of the foot.

Deep digital flexor tendon ( DDFT)

Deep digital flexor muscle starts at the ulna

Underneath the pedal bone

Flexes the joints of the lower leg, prevents the fetlock from over extending, together with the check ligaments helps with weight bearing.

Passes over the back of the knee, held in place by the check ligament, passes over the sesamoid bones and fans out over the navicular bone.

Superficial digital flexor tendon


Superficial digital flexor muscle

Back of long and short pastern bones

Flexes the joints of the lower leg, prevents fetlock from over extending & helps with weight bearing.

Passes down the back of the cannon bone covering the DDFT, enclosing it at the fetlock joint forming Annular ligament.

Suspensory ligament

Bottom row of knee bones between splint bones

Divides in two above the fetlock, each branch joins to a sesamoid bone and blends wihh CDET

Supports and prevents over extension of fetock joint

Inferior check ligament

Back of the knee joint

Deep flexor tendon

Prevents strain to flexor tendons, supports the horse whilst sleeping standing up.

Superior check ligament

Above the knee

Superficial flexor tendon

Supports superfical flexor tendon above the knee.

Article kindly provided by Hayfield Riding Centre Hayfield Riding Centre

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