Fracture… It can be repaired

As a racehorse trainer, we can only imagine that one of the worst sights is watching your horse pull up non-weight bearing lame in the middle of the race. Well that was the case with this horse.  On examination of the radiographs the horse had fractured its proximal phalanx, in other words it had fractured part of its pastern.

anderson p.gazella nera.2-10-jun-2011

The pastern is the part of the horses’ leg between the fetlock and the top of the hoof and is vital in shock absorption. When the foot comes in contact with the ground, the fetlock and pastern absorb the force of this action. This confirmation of the lower limbs of the horse allows for effective distribution of the forces to the bones and tendons in this region.

Initial treatment for this horse is to stabilize the limb with a Robert-Jones (stabilising) bandage and/or a splint; pain relief should also be administered. Unfortunately with a fracture of this degree the only treatment option is surgical correction.  This is not a surgery that is to be taken lightly, it is a difficult and long surgery and post-operative care is relatively intensive.

During surgery, the pieces of the fracture are aligned and fixed in place with screws. The limb was placed in a supportive cast for recovery from surgery, which was then left on for two weeks. The horse was given both pre- and post- operative antibiotics and pain relief.


This cast remained on the limb for two weeks to give extra support during the healing process. After two weeks the cast was removed and replaced with a stabilising Robert Jones bandage. During the whole process the horse remained in a box, the amount of time in the box will depend on how the fracture is healing. Due to the complex nature of this particular fracture, this horse will most likely never race again, but will hopefully be an excellent broodmare.