Broken Bones in Horses

3 min read

Fractures in Horses

Treating fractures in horses used to be quite difficult, and for that reason most afflicted horses were euthanized. Fortunately, as time has progressed so has technology, making it easier to treat these types of cases.

Symptoms and Types

The symptoms of a fracture are dependent on the area of the fracture; among them:

  • Severe pain in or around the fracture
  • Swelling in the affected area
  • Strange posturing
  • Lifting the affected leg off the ground
  • Strange angle of affected leg
  • Failure to place weight on affected leg or an uneven weight distribution


There are a variety of situations where a horse might fracture a bone, but it most often occurs when excessive force is directed at the bone or at an unusual angle. This can happen as a result of an awkward kick, a bad fall, a misstep, or from undue strain at competitive events. Bone fractures are most often seen in racetrack horses because of the high level of intensity in racing.


Some bone fractures are easier to diagnose than others. While many fractures display external, visible signs, others are less obvious. If there are no outer signs of a bone fracture, a veterinarian may take X-rays, or use scintigraphy (a device which uses radioactive tracers to generate an image of the affected area).

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