It’s common knowledge that osteochondrosis—a developmental orthopedic disease that results from a disruption in the growth of articular cartilage located in specific joints—can cause problems for young horses, but how common is it? How are different breeds affected? Where are the most common lesion sites? And, of course, what’s the most efficient and effective way to screen for it?

By refining a specific field protocol for evaluating foals for osteochondrosis, and by investigating average breeding populations (horses not considered especially at risk), a team of French orthopedic scientists has been able to establish a set of standards for evaluating the condition.

In a multifaceted study—called the Breeding, Osteochondral Status, and Athletic Career program—Jean-Marie Denoix, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVSMR, director of the Centre d’Imagerie et de Recherche sur les Affections Locomotrices Equines (CIRALE) in Goustranville (Normandy), and colleagues investigated nearly 400 foals on 21 different breeding farms in Normandy representing three breeds: Thoroughbred racehorses, French Standardbred trotting racehorses, and Selle Français Warmblood riding horses.

Denoix’s field protocol is designed to be low-risk, efficient, economical, effective, and thorough in identifying juvenile osteochondral conditions (or JOCC). Denoix coined the term JOCC to describe "common disorders affecting the immature skeleton and joints of young horses across a wide range of breeds." The field protocol consists of 10 radiographic views using a portable high-frequency X ray machine. The views include:

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