A Blemish may be unsightly but doesnt keep him from being able to work.
An Unsoundness is a physical problem
that makes a horse lame or unable to work.
Front leg problems:
Hard lumps that appear
between the splint bones and the cannon bones. The splint bones are attached to the cannon
bone by a small ligament.
If the splint bone is injured (by being struck) or carries more than its share of weight this ligament
becomes sore. It
heals by building up a calcium deposit to weld the splint bone to the cannon bone. Thus the lump.
Splints are usually seen in young hoses just starting to do hard work. Carrying heavy weight, striking one leg
the other, making tight circles, jumping and working on hard ground all can lead to splints, especially in horses
five years of age. This is a good reason to wait until young horses are mature before working them hard, especially
A splint is usually hot and painful when it first happens. With rest, it becomes
quiet and usually does not cause and
further lameness if it is allowed to heal completely.
If it does not cause
lameness an old healed splint is usually considered a blemish, not an unsoundness.
happens when a tendon is stretched too far.
Some tendon fibers are torn, causing pain, heat, and swelling. Later scar
tissue forms, creating a thickening, or
bow in the tendon. Usually caused by an accident or slip, but conformation
of the leg can make a horse more
susceptible, such as, calf knees, long sloping pasterns, and weak tied-in tendons
along with long toes or low heels.
These put stress on the tendons and may contribute to a bow.
High bow- up close to the knee.
Low bow- down near the fetlock joint.
It is extremely
painful and the horse will be very lame. After it heals, the horse may not be lame, but the leg may
never be as strong
Foot and Pastern Unsoundnesses
This a problem deep within
The deep flexor tendon passes under the navicular bone and fastens to the underside of the coffin bone.
navicular bursa is a pad that protects the bone where the tendon crosses over it. The deep flexor tendon presses
against the navicular bone and navicular bursa with every step.
Navicular Disease occurs when the navicular
bursa, the navicular bone, or the end of the tendon becomes inflamed
usually starts out as a mild lameness that comes and goes, and may disappear when the horse is warmed up.
the bone and tendon become inflamed and toughened, the lameness may become severe and the horse may
be lame all the
Because the heels hurt the horse tries to walk on his toes, which gives him a short tip toe gait and may make
Navicular disease is more common in middle-aged horses whose conformation promotes concussion.
Small feet, narrow heels, upright pasterns, and long toes with low heels all can contribute to navicular disease.
Location: Pastern area
A bony lump on the pastern bones. If
it is not near a joint the horse may become sound after a period of rest.
is arthritis in the joint between the two pastern bones. Eventually the bones may fuse or grow together,
and the horse
may become sound.
occurs between the end of the pastern bone and the coffin
bone inside type of Ringbone is usually more serious, and
the horse usually becomes permanently lame. This type of
Ringbone is usually more serious, and the horse usually
becomes permanently lame.
much concussion. More common in horses with up right pasterns. It may also occur in horses that carry extra
on one side of the foot and leg because of crooked legs.
the bulb of the heel.
This occurs when the collateral cartilage of the coffin bone (which are shaped like wings
and form the bulbs of the
heel) turn to bone.
This process is gradual and usually does not cause lameness
unless the sidebones are very large or one gets broken.
You can feel the collateral cartilage
by pressing just above the coronary band. In a young horse, they feel springy;;
when the have calcified or turned to
sidebones they feel hard. Sidebone is not usually considered an unsoundness
unless it causes lameness.
Most commonly found in large, heavy horses with big feet, especially if they have straight pasterns that cause more
Hind Leg Unsoundnesses
This is a sprain of the plantar
ligament (which runs down the back of the hock),
It usually causes lameness. Because it is an
injury to a ligament, a cub can take a long time to heal.
Curbs are often associated with sickle
hocks or horses that stand under in the hind legs. This makes the hocks
weak and puts more strain on the ligament.
Low down on the inside of the hock.
arthritis in the small bones of the hock. When irritated by stress or concussion they may form bone spurs on
of the bone. These are painful and cause lameness. If the calcium deposits cause these bones to grow
is no more pain and the horse may become sound again. However, if the arthritis or calcium deposits
occur in the upper
part of the hock joint, the hock cannot move normally and the horse may become permanently
More common in horses that put extra strain on their hocks. cow hocks, bowed hocks, and very straight hocks are
prone to develop bone spavins.
Soft swelling on the front of the hock.
Usually not hot or painful, it seldom causes lameness.
when a horses hocks have been under some stress, but not enough to make him lame. The joint
produces too much joint
fluid, causing the joint capsule to become enlarged and full of fluid. Thus, grows smaller
with rest and larger with
Often seen in horses with straight hocks, or when horses with weak hock conformation do work that is hard
Usually considered a blemish.
cool swelling in the upper part of the hock.
The tendon sheath produces extra fluid and stretches.
Like bog spavin it is a sign of stress but doesnt usually cause lameness.