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Fractured splint bones - what did you do? Tell me about yours please!

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  • Fractured splint bones - what did you do? Tell me about yours please!

    Quick back story - My homebred filly had surgery for contracted tendons at 6 months. Successfull outcome. Then fractured a front cannon bone at 1 year and damaged tendons. Arthritis set in by 2. Never sound so she was never broke. Spending her life as a pasture puff on my farm. She is extremely well mannered and easy to handle.

    Fast forward to last week. Mare is now 13 years old. Found her non weight bearing on a hind leg. Small amount of heat, swelling, and a small cut just above her fetlock. Cold hosed, wrapped, 2g bute and waited for vet. X rays revealed both splint bones fractured in 2 places each. Total of 4 fractures, 1 is displaced. She was walking comfortably without bute less than 2 days later. Because she is not/has not ever been/will never be sound, vet recommends stall rest, cold hosing for swelling, and wrapping. Feels within another week or 2 she should be ready for turnout and can continue on with her pasture puff life. If she were sound she would have suggested surgery for removal of splint bones. I'm still weighing out the pros and cons of both options. Surgery is not out of the question just because she is not sound.

    Please share your stories with me!!!
    On the 8th day God created the Quarter Horse. On the 9th day, he Painted the good ones.

  • #2
    I think if she just needs to be pasture sound, I'd forego surgery. If she seems painful after a couple of weeks, then you could consider surgery. The horses that I know that had surgery did well after, and returned to full work/jumping.


    • #3
      I can't be a whole lot of help to you, but my mare had a fractured splint bone prior to my owning her. Nothing was done except tincture of time, and she is 100% sound. However, I don't know the extent of her fracture, so it may not compare to your mare.

      Hugs to you for doing the right thing for your girl.


      • #4
        My old gelding fractured both splint bones in his LF in a pasture accident. Stall rested and wrapped for 3 months, never had a problem.


        • #5
          I had a horse that fractured splint bones in 2 separate incidents. First time, a front splint bone. On vet's recommendation I sent him for surgery. The horse had an anaesthesia reaction and went into cardiac arrest. Fortunately, surgical team was able to stabilize him. A thousand dollars later, all he had for the experience was a shaved leg. Stall rested for 2 months with hand grazing and shock wave therapy. Put back to work and never looked back. A year later you couldn't even find the site.

          Ten years later he fractured a hind splint bone kicking a fence. It was shattered in five pieces, but he wasn't lame. I sent him to Mid Atlantic, and based on the xrays, xero-radiographs and his past history they recommended not operating. Stall rest for 3 weeks, tack walking for 5. He never took a lame step. When we re-xrayed at 8 weeks there was no evidence of healing. Since he wasn't lame, surgeon recommended gradual return to work. Six months later, x rays revealed that fractures had realigned and bottom fragment had been absorbed. Horse went back to full work, including jumping.
          The old gray mare just ain't what she used to be.


          • #6
            As far as long-term soundness and health of the suspensory ligament, provided the fractures are distal, surgery is the best option. You take a risk of long-term issues if you leave the fracture to heal on its own. The lower splint bone does not NEED to be there, and if it doesn't heal correctly, it will damage soft tissue structures. On the flip side, you also take a risk of a surgery complication if you go the surgery route.

            For a competitive horse in any career that involves running and/or jumping, surgery tends to be recommended. For a sedentary lifestyle...depends on the specific case, how the fractures look, where they are, how aggressive you want to be, etc.

            I had 5 pieces (lower third) of my upper-level event horse's LF medial splint removed. 60 days from surgery date to full work (galloping and jumping). Sound, incision scar isn't noticeable except on palpation. It's been 6 months with no problems.


            • #7
              My old show horse fractured his right rear outside splint bone kicking at another horse through the fence at age 19. There were two detached bone fragments. The vet placed him on bute, cold therapy, bandaging, and stall rest for two months. At the end of two months, he was still lame, and X-rays showed no healing. At that point, he had surgery to remove the fragments, followed by two more months of bandaging and stall rest. His program then called for a gradual return to work, but he never did come quite right behind, so he was retired. He may have had some suspensory involvement, whether caused by kicking the post or irritation from the displaced fragments I'm not sure, and the 4 months of inactivity with an older horse I think was detrimental also. Prior to his accident, he had been in work, sound, with zero maintenance.


              • #8
                My Clydesdale Mare had a shattered splint bone from a pasture accident/fight. She had a young foal and I did not want to trailer to the clinic, so the vet removed the chunks of bone in a standing surgery in the barn (with lots of people helping to keep her standing). She was NEVER off, even right after it happened,, but it healed nicely even with a huge gash spurting blood all over. The removal required a large incision, and it healed nicely as did the stitched up gash. She had a month of stall rest. Although the vet was not happy about doing this at the barn instead of the clinic, I found out later that removal of splint bones is a fairly routine procedure at race tracks. No need to put the horse totally out so far less riskn of complications. I never considered NOT removing it.