Equine Splints: Causes and Cures

Learn how to keep splints (bony lower leg swellings) from becoming permanent blemishes or problems that interfere with a horse’s athletic career.
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Equine Splints: Causes and Cures
Many affected horses regain a normal state of soundness, with perhaps only a small bump on the leg remaining as a reminder of the injury. | Photo: Paula da Silva/www.arnd.nl

Learn how to keep splints (bony lower leg swellings) from becoming permanent blemishes or problems that interfere with a horse’s athletic career.

Your young horse has been in training for a few months, but even though you’re taking it slowly and steadily and not pushing too hard, he sometimes comes up lame during or after a workout. The lameness isn’t always present and rarely occurs at a walk, but it does show up when he trots and canters.

During the veterinary exam your horse flinched when his leg was touched. Your veterinarian suggested radiographs, suspecting the splint area is the problem.

Splints 101

An inflammatory condition of the splint bones, “splints” occur primarily in growing horses involved in heavy training. Splint bones are located on each side of the cannon bone. Between the splint bones and the cannon bone is the interosseous ligament, which is made of a dense connective tissue that ossifies into bone as the horse grows into adulthood. The ossified ligament fuses together with the cannon bone and splint bones; bony fusion is usually complete in most horses by 3-4 years of age

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Written by:

Marcia King is an award-winning freelance writer based in Ohio who specializes in equine, canine, and feline veterinary topics. She’s schooled in hunt seat, dressage, and Western pleasure.

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