Make your own free website on

Buffalo Creek Pony Club

Blemish or Unsoundness
In the News!!
Club Photo Album
Rally Entry Forms
Calendar of Events
Flow Charts
Safety Education
HM Education
Ready Set Rate
Ready Set Rally
Member Handbook
Bulletin Board
Contact Us
Equine Links
Web Awards


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 against
the other, making tight circles, jumping and working on hard ground all can lead to splints, especially in horses under
five years of age. This is a good reason to wait until young horses are mature before working them hard, especially
over fences.

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.

Bowed Tendon:

This 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 as before.

Foot and Pastern Unsoundnesses

Navicular Disease:

This a problem deep within the foot.

The deep flexor tendon passes under the navicular bone and fastens to the underside of the coffin bone. The
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
and sore.


It usually starts out as a mild lameness that comes and goes, and may disappear when the horse is warmed up.
Later, as the bone and tendon become inflamed and toughened, the lameness may become severe and the horse may
be lame all the time.
Because the heels hurt the horse tries to walk on his toes, which gives him a short tip toe gait and may make him

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.

High Ringbone

Location - is arthritis in the joint between the two pastern bones. Eventually the bones may fuse or grow together,
and the horse may become sound.

Low Ringbone

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.


Too much concussion. More common in horses with up right pasterns. It may also occur in horses that carry extra
weight on one side of the foot and leg because of crooked legs.


Just above 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.

Bone Spavin

Low down on the inside of the hock.

This is arthritis in the small bones of the hock. When irritated by stress or concussion they may form bone spurs on
the edges of the bone. These are painful and cause lameness. If the calcium deposits cause these bones to grow
together there 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
more prone to develop bone spavins.

Bog Spavin

Soft swelling on the front of the hock.

Usually not hot or painful, it seldom causes lameness.

Usually occurs 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 work.

Often seen in horses with straight hocks, or when horses with weak hock conformation do work that is hard on their

Usually considered a blemish.


Soft, 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.