Updated: Mar 13
Splints are bony outgrowths on the splint bones but sometimes on the cannon bone as well. They usually occur in young animals in the first year of training. When a baby begins training on the track or ring for the first time, its legs are receiving all kinds of stresses and strains never encountered before. A lot of those strains occur in the area of the splint bones, just below the knee. When they occur, the body tends to stabilize the stress, by depositing excessive bone or calcified tissue in the area of the strain. The excessive bone lay down is readily palpable, and is called a splint. They most commonly occur however, on the outside splint bones in the front legs, and on the inside and outside splint bones of the hind legs.
When the body first deposits new bone in the area, or when the splint appears for the first time, it is usually hot and painful. Indeed it can cause the horse to head nod, or go on a line/rein. As for splint the area will tell you how alive (painful), the splints actually are. They can cause the horse to head nod, or go on a line/rein. As for the splint bone fractures, the horse can go on any line. At times a painful splint will cause the animal to swing the affected leg inward, thereby hitting the back of the knee of the other front leg.
Treatment consists largely in stabilizing the area. Applying lots of heat to the area, enables the body to deposit the calcium or new bone quickly, thereby stabilizing the region. If the splint refuses to deaden (pain is still present), then the veterinarian action may be necessary. The veterinarian may elect to inject the area with bone glue. The drug causes the body to deposit large amounts of calcium into the area and therefore stabilize it. The veterinarian may inject the area with cortisone or with cortisone and a long term dulling agent. This will allow the animal to continue racing without pain for awhile. The veterinarian may decide to cryo the skin over the splint. This will destroy the nerves supplying the area. Once the nerves are destroyed, no pain can be felt, and the horse will race/perform sound.