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Coffin Bone Fracture: Prognosis and Your Experiences?

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  • Coffin Bone Fracture: Prognosis and Your Experiences?

    This is a warmblood mare, just turned 5 years old, and 17.1 hands. On her left front leg she has a partial wing fracture of the coffin bone. This is a lateral fracture which does not go all the way through and there is no joint involvement.

    With good management of the injury, can the mare recover completely? Given talent and proper training, can this mare come sound enough to reliably jump 1.30 courses?

    If anyone has experience/knowledge of this type of injury, I'd appreciate your thoughts.

  • #2
    I once had a mule who fractured her coffin bone. In the pasture. Kicked at another mule and hit a 6x6 post in the run-in shed. The break went all the way through but there was no separation. It's been long enough that I don't recall exactly how long she was on stall rest, but it was almost a year before I felt that she had completely recovered.

    I can't speak to any return to performance because right after that she bowed a tendon. Running around in the pasture. After she recovered from that I gave her away to a lady who used her as a companion and occasional low-impact trail ride mule.

    "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
    that's even remotely true."

    Homer Simpson


    • #3
      No personal experience, but I have three friends with horse that have had coffin bone fractures. All of them came back perfectly good as new. I think if you manage the rest/healing phase well, this is a "good" injury. Bone heals.


      • #4
        Originally posted by touchstone- View Post
        No personal experience, but I have three friends with horse that have had coffin bone fractures. All of them came back perfectly good as new. I think if you manage the rest/healing phase well, this is a "good" injury. Bone heals.
        My adventures as a working rider


        • #5
          It seems coffin bone fractures are not that rare. Vet found an old fracture on one of my horses on x-ray. I purchased him as a five year old off the track. He retired sound just didn't like to be at the front. I have no idea when it occurred but it never caused a problem.


          • #6
            Have dealt with three - all returned to work at or above the level they were competing before the injury. No joint involvement makes it better.


            • #7
              My GP horse fractured his coffin bone a couple of summers ago. He suddenly went lame on the first day of a show and we assumed it was a warm/hot nail (not entirely unusual for him with his less-than-stellar TB feet). We reconfigured and he was back to sound on the flat in a few days. Still a little funny over fences, but it went away over the course of a week and he showed in two consecutive weeks of FEI Grand Prixes the next two weeks after that one funny week.

              We did x-rays (normal annual x-rays) a month or two later and found out that the minor lameness issue we’d dealt with was likely the fractured (and now healed) coffin bone fracture that was readily visible.

              He recovered almost immediately (as evidenced by jumping around on it while it was likely still an active break), and has gone on to show since.

              My only regret in the scenario was that I followed a vet’s suggestion to do a round of Osphos even though he was fully sound and comfortable post-break. That sent him into kidney failure and many thousands of dollars in care. And after reading a whole heck of a lot more about Osphos, I would never use it for a broken bone again.

              But the coffin bone break was really a non-issue in the long run. He is now 18 and still jumping around 1.40/1.45 classes happily.
              Flying F Sport Horses
              Horses in the NW


              • #8
                I echo those who said they can return to same or higher level. My mare had one as a three year old. Fully healed and no trouble since. She’s 11. Vet on PPE noted it, vet who treated it initially confirmed treatment. I didn’t worry about it in the least.
                Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                • #9
                  My experience is on a hind foot so take it for what it's worth, but I will echo what has been said above about healing and returning to work. Mine kicked a concrete wall and had a complete (through and through) vertical fracture at about the 10:30 position on his left hind; so lateral side, more dorsal than a fracture that only involves the wing, but not straight down the dorsal surface (which would fully involve the joint). Due to location, the joint was partially involved so we were unsure of how he would return to work. We expected that he would return to jumping, but it was unknown when and how severe the onset of arthritis would be.

                  After 4 months he was fully healed, started turn out at 5.5 months, riding by 6.5 months, jumping a while after that once he was conditioned (he returned to work in the winter, so conditioning was slow). He quickly progressed back through jumping training and is doing 3'; he would be doing more if I could get my life together enough to send him off to be finished. He's perfectly sound on the foot and the line where the fracture was is even more dense than the surrounding bone. I did have him on EquiBone during that time; the jury is out whether or not that aided in his quick healing time, but I would not hesitate to use it on a fracture again.
                  *I have a pinball machine of a mind. I apologize in advance if I leave someone behind. Sometimes I can't even keep up*


                  • Original Poster

                    Wow, thank you so much for these responses. I was worried that this type of injury might limit the mare's potential going forward, but this is all very encouraging.


                    • #11
                      A friend of mine had a warm blood mare that fractured her coffin bone. I don't remember how long it took to heal but I do remember she was able to show her in A-rated shows. She jumped her at the 3'6 foot level before she sold her and I don't recall her ever being lame. If I remember right, she was a three year old when it happened. I think she had her until she was six or seven.


                      • #12
                        One more positive experience. My mare had a non displaced wing fracture. Extremely painful at first. And 5 month recovery. But, she recovered and went back to work with no issues.


                        • #13
                          I do want to add to this thread as it seems very positive overall (and nothing is allowed to be "only" positive, lol), that I would, personally, hesitate to buy a horse with a broken coffin bone unless I was getting a price reduction because of it.

                          OP - are you who I spoke to the other day? Either way, I just had this conversation. My guy has pretty wicked side bone in both of his front feet (but worse in the foot that had the broken coffin bone). My vet suspects that the origin or greater influence on that foot is a result of the broken coffin bone. I would worry about the [eventual] side effects of injury in regard to side bone and potential arthritis. My guy is a TB who literally jumped around an FEI Grand Prix on his freshly broken coffin bone. Most of my horses would have zero interest in doing so, and likely would have reacted much more strongly to the pain from minute one. I can't really speak to the long term effects because, again, the horse will jump no matter what's going on with him.

                          IMO, a broken coffin bone is not a life altering injury. It's something that I would expect a horse to make a full recovery from. But it's also still a pretty major injury and something that could have effects for a long time to come. If you want to ride/show a horse for a few years and then sell it, that might be a moot point. But if you're planning to keep the horse long term, it would definitely be (at least) a negotiation point for me.
                          Flying F Sport Horses
                          Horses in the NW


                          • Original Poster

                            PNWjumper: Yup, that was me you talked to. Thanks for your sobering advice. I hadn't considered possible complications down the road. I love this mare, but I'm going to think long and hard before proceeding.