“If a horse needs an amputation or he’s not going to live, that’s not much of a choice,” began Ric Redden, DVM, founder of the International Equine Podiatry Center and host of the 2003 Bluegrass Laminitis Symposium, in a presentation on Jan. 18. “Horses with catastrophic injury or disease of the lower limb are most often euthanized as there is irreversible vascular, soft tissue, and bone damage. Amputating the limb well above the dysfunctional area and fitting the horse with a prosthesis is a viable option. This is what being a vet is all about–looking at an animal that wants to live and fixing him.”

Selecting a Case

The ideal candidate for amputation is a young horse with catastrophic laceration and/or fracture of the hind limb, where the injury is no more than four weeks old, Redden said. Horses seem to handle hind limb amputation better than fore limb amputation “possibly due to weight distribution and the constant twisting load placed on the front end that is not imposed on the rear limb,” he added.

See an example of a successful amputation case here.

“Individuals presented with only unilateral (one front or hind limb) involvement, without impending signs of contralateral limb (the other front or hind limb) laminitis, have all been successful attempts,” he reported. “Five cases remain productive and happy, with the longest cas