Don't shoot! Breaks aren't always fatal, these days

Rebecca Colnar


Once was, euthanasia was about the only treatment for a broken-legged horse. The good ol' days are gone, thank goodness. It's not uncommon today for a horse to be back in competition within 12 months of a once-deadly fracture.

"There aren't many fractures we can't fix today, from broken cannon bones to broken necks," says Ted Vlahos.

"The greatest limitation in fixing fractures is that a horse has to be weight-bearing immediately.

"Humans can use crutches as they heal, but a horse doesn't have that option. It has to walk back to its stall after surgery."

The Sheridan (Wyo.) Animal Medical Center veterinarian notes that the implants used in treating horses--screws, plates and so forth--were developed for humans and sometimes cannot withstand veterinary stresses. The Center, which treated 25 fractures last year, primarily sees fractures most commonly associated with cutting, rodeo and cow horses.

Improved anesthetic protocols, better external supports, such as fiberglass casts, and new anesthetic recovery systems, such as pools and slings, have made surgery more successful. The ability to treat infection is another step forward.

"It used to be that if you had a compound fracture--that is, the bone had broken through the skin--an infection would set in and attempts to repair the injury would fail. Now we have antibiotic delivery systems to treat such infections," Vlahos says.

Vlahos believes fixing fractures is the most rewarding aspect of being a vet, but there are five hurdles to overcome for a successful conclusion.

"Transportation to the clinic is critical. Many otherwise treatable fractures are ruined during the trailer ride to the vet.

"A fracture is going to need support before you transport that animal," Vlahos says. "If there's a wound, cover it tightly with cotton and vetrap, then have your vet provide external support.

"Following that, the horse has to experience anesthesia and surgery without incident, and then make it through recovery," he says.

"Next, there's the risk of infection and lastly, the animal needs to accept the cast. There is also the concern of failure (laminitis) of the opposite limb from excessive weight bearing."

Treating a fracture, along with boarding and aftercare, will set the owner back by $4,000 to $8,000. Bone chip surgery runs in the $1,200 to $1,500 range, with the horse back to training in about 45 days. Many insurance policies cover the cost of surgery and recovery.

Rebecca Colnar is editor of The Mane Points.

©Southern States Cooperative, Inc., Reprinted from Mane Points, with permission of Southern States Cooperative, Inc.
www.southernstates.com



© 2004-2012 Horse Tack Review



 Horse Tack Review Home


 Shop For Tack
 Back in the Saddle
 Boot Barn
 Dover Saddlery
 Equestrian Collections
 Horse.com
 HorseLoverZ.com
 State Line Tack

 Help Us Support
 Bright Futures Farm


 Horse Tack Reviews
 Submit Your Own Review!
 Search Review Database
 All Reader Reviews
 Staff Reviews
 Submit a Product for Review

 English Tack Reviews
 Dressage Saddles
 Jumping Saddles
 Close Contact Saddles
 All Purpose Saddles
 English Saddle Fittings/Pads
 English Bridles
 English Bridle Accessories
 English Show Apparel
 English Casual Apparel
 English Chaps/Boots/Helmets
 English Miscellaneous

 Western Tack Reviews
 Barrel Saddles
 Reining Saddles
 Roping Saddles
 Show Saddles
 Trail Saddles
 Western Saddle Fittings/Pads
 Western Bridles
 Western Bridle Accessories
 Western Show Apparel
 Western Casual Apparel
 Western Chaps/Boots/Hats
 Western Miscellaneous

 Horse Gear Reviews
 Horse Boots and Wraps
 Halters/Ropes/Leads
 Horse Health and Well Being
 Horse Apparel
 Horse Treats
 Horse Miscellaneous

 Barn & Stable Reviews
 Fly Control
 Gifts/Books/Videos
 Grooming Equipment
 Stable Accessories
 Tack Room
 Training Equipment
 Barn and Stable Misc

 Articles
 Barn and Stable Articles
 English Articles
 Feature and Misc Articles
 Grooming Articles
 Horse Care & Health Articles
 Horse Related Gift Articles
 News and Events
 Training Articles
 Western Articles

 Other Features
 About Us / Contact Information
 Articles & Subjects By Date
 Article Archives
 Join Our Mailing List
 Privacy Policy