Prosthetics: Science, Not Science Fiction

There is a roadside pasture in Pullman, Wash., where a black Quarter Horse stallion has been known to stop traffic. It’s not simply the pastoral beauty of a handsome horse in a natural setting that draws attention. Rather, it’s that this

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There is a roadside pasture in Pullman, Wash., where a black Quarter Horse stallion has been known to stop traffic. It’s not simply the pastoral beauty of a handsome horse in a natural setting that draws attention. Rather, it’s that this particular stallion has a feature few people have ever seen on an equid: An artificial limb.


While hardly common, such sights have at least stepped out of the realm of wishful thinking and into the real world. Yes, it’s a costly procedure. Yes, there are special considerations and potential complications. And, no, not every horse with a leg injury makes a good candidate. But through the efforts of dedicated, far-sighted veterinarians, farriers, and horse owners, equine prosthetics are viable options for giving some formerly doomed horses a new lease on a good life.


Thirty Years of Progress


Veterinarians have been applying artificial limbs to horses since at least 1970, when L.M. Koger, DVM, and colleagues fit a prosthesis to a horse’s forelimb, says Barrie Grant, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, co-owner of San Luis Rey Equine Center in California. The ensuing 30 years have seen considerable progress in prosthetic mechanics and materials, with modern devices borrowing from high-tech human medicine whenever possible, says Ric Redden, DVM, founder of the International Equine Podiatry Center in Versailles, Ky

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Written by:

Sushil Dulai Wenholz is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She’s written for a number of leading equine publications, and she has earned awards from the American Horse Publications and the Western Fairs Association.

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