Q. My 17-year-old Arab gelding has been diagnosed with ringbone. His granddam and another of her offspring also had this disease. What exactly is ringbone? Is it hereditary? What is its cause? My veterinarian has done an exam and X rays and recommended Bute (phenylbutazone) and regular exercise.


A. Ringbone, a lameness disease of the pastern and coffin joints, is a degenerative disorder that has no cure. Once the condition occurs, it’s always there and will progressively worsen. Fortunately, with treatment and good management, the disease’s progression can be slowed, allowing the horse to remain competitive.

Ringbone causes a circumferential enlargement at the level of the joint. High ringbone refers to the pastern joint and low ringbone refers to the coffin joint. The disease is similar to arthritis, with the affected area showing bone spur formation (additional bone buildup) and degenerative joint disease.

Articular ringbone (affecting the joint surface) affects the cartilage and synovium (joint lining), resulting in enlargement, pain,

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