Home Horse Sidebone in Horses: Causes, Clinical Signs, Diagnosis and Treatment

Sidebone in Horses: Causes, Clinical Signs, Diagnosis and Treatment

Ossification of the collateral cartilages or Sidebone in horses is most often found in the front feet in heavier breeds of horses. Ossification usually starts at the cartilage-bone junction and is thought to be part of a normal aging process. It is not unusual to find some degree of sidebone formation on radiographs of older horses or young horses without associated lameness. Excessive, abnormal or premature ossification can cause lameness. Predispositions are increased loading and/or concussion on the collateral cartilages. This is more common in horses with poor foot conformation, or incorrect trimming and/or shoeing. Occasionally direct trauma to the cartilage can result in an area of ossification.

What causes sidebones to develop?


Excessive, abnormal or premature ossification is the cause of lameness. It occurs mostly in the lateral cartilage. It is very common in the forefeet of heavy horses working on a hard surface. Sidebone also appears to be a hereditary component but this may be because of bad conformation and that appears to predispose to sidebone.

Environmental conditions such as exposures to toxins. Lack of balanced Nutrients, deficiencies or excesses. Combined with stressful demands not being repairable due to an insufficient supply of proper building materials. The longer you live in an unbalanced state.

Murakoz Draft Horse

Clinical signs of Sidebone in Horses


Lameness associated with the sidebone is not common. When present it is usually associated with an inflammatory reaction at the onset of ossification or with excessive ossification. In the early stages, lameness is often slight but will be increased on a hard or rough surface or when the horse is turned in the direction of the affected foot. Pain may be elicited on the pressure with hoof testers over the heels.

Cartilage of Horse Hoof

The paring of the foot may reveal hemorrhage at the “seat of corn” on the affected side(s). Lameness usually subsides after a given rest. If the cartilage becomes extensively ossified, lameness may be more marked, and there are pain and loss of pliability of the cartilage. Because of loss of normal expansion accompanying extensive ossification, the hoof wall from the heels to mid-quarter on the affected side(s) become more upright and the coronary band bulgers in this region.

Signs of Sidebone

How are sidebones diagnosed?


The diagnosis is based on clinical signs and the shape of the foot in advanced cases. It should be confirmed by unilateral or bilateral palmar digital nerve block and by radiography. Radiographic evidence of ossification of the collateral cartilages does not necessarily mean that this is the cause of lameness and the findings should be correlated with the clinical signs and the result of nerve blocks. Occasionally what appears to be “fractured” sidebones may be found radiographically. Usually, there are separate centers of ossification. Sidebone sometimes confused with the ringbone of horses during diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis of Sidebone

How do you treat sidebone in horses?


Foot imbalance should be corrected and the feet shod with a flat, wide-webbed shoe with rolled toe, fitted wide at the quarters and heels, and extending beyond the weight-bearing surface at the heels to support the posterior foot and to encourage expansion. Combined with 6-8 wk rest this may be successful in the early stages.

Horse Hoof in Sidebone

In more advanced cases, treatment is mainly palliative and includes correction of any foot imbalance and shoeing as above making sure that there are no nails behind mid-quarters. Long -term NSAIDs may be necessary. Grooving or thinning the hoof wall at the quarters and heals may encourage expansion and reduce pain, but does tend to weaken the foot. The prognosis for a complete return to soundness is good in the early stages and guarded to poor if ossification is extensive.

Concluding Remarks on Sidebone


Sidebone is most common in draft horse breeds but also seen in other horses in old age. Adequate and balanced ration, proper use of horseshoe reduces the incidence of sidebone. The proper diagnosis and care will help to reduce the loss performance of your horses. This article will help you to understand the causes, diagnosis and treatment and care of sidebone. If this piece of information helps you, please share to your friends.

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