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Bucked Shins in Thoroughbred Racehorses

Date Published: 01/28/2005
Date Reviewed/Revised: 03/10/2014

Dr. Dan Burba from LSU indicates in DVM 360 that bucked shins is a common ailment in young Thoroughbred racehorses in training, as up to 70% of them develop this problem. Dr. Patty Hogan says this is a difficult problem as the condition occurs due to the timing of bone development and training. Bone adaptation during training happens much faster than during the natural process, so it doesn't allow the body enough time to build healthy bone. Bucked shins can also lead to stress fractures of the cannon bones as 12% of horses with bucked shins will develop stress fractures at a later date. Dr. Ed Kane says that the condition can be diagnosed by finding heat, swelling and pain on the front surface of the cannon bones, but an x-ray is required to confirm the diagnosis. In the early stages of bucked shins the x-rays can look normal, but due to stress on the tissue, later there will be swelling at the covering of the bone called the periosteum. The periosteum is torn away from the bone, resulting in bleeding, and the bleeding pushes the periosteum further away from the bone. Many of these horses are trained well for long jogging and have no problems, but when breezing begins, the bone is at a different angle that creates different stresses.

Treating bucked shins centers on rest and controlled activity; regardless of other treatments used, reduced training will allow the bone to heal. However, extended rest is not recommended because the horse needs regular but not excessive exercise. Prevent bucked shins by using a different training regimen that involves short distance galloping three times weekly compared to the old method of galloping only every 7-10 days.



 
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