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Summary Bilateral superior check ligament desmotomy was performed on 31 Thoroughbred and 17 Standardbred horses as the sole method of treatment for superficial digital flexor tendonitis. Horses resumed racing between 6 and 19 months after surgery. Horses that were able to compete in 5 or more races without injury to the tendon again were considered to have had a successful return to racing. Twenty-five Thoroughbreds were suitable for later study and 13 of these (52%) raced on 5 or more occasions. Fifteen Standardbreds were suitable for later study and 10 of these (66%) raced on 5 or more occasions. Within the racing industry it is generally thought that about 20 to 30% of horses with superficial digital flexor tendonitis can return to racing after a prolonged rest. The results of this study suggest that bilateral superior check ligament desmotomy may improve the prognosis for a horse returning to racing after injury to the superficial digital flexor tendon.