Speedy Splint Recovery

Q. Do you have any suggestions for speeding the time it takes for proximal splints (in the forelimbs) to resolve? My horse had inactive splints for two years but was shod by a different farrier with inappropriate shoes, dropped heels, and front clips, which has caused very late breakover. As a result, the splints were aggravated (active splints generally are inflamed and painful). My regular farrier redid the shoes four days ago and there is some improvement already but I have quite a few endurance rides left this year. Do you have any suggestions?

Rebecca, via email

A. Splints are an inflammatory condition of the splint bones located on each side of the cannon bone. I believe that horses mainly develop splints due to conformation deficits, but improper shoeing with imbalance--like the case you describe--can also cause splints or aggravate inactive splints.

To prevent and treat splints, I recommend routine regular shoeing by a skilled farrier. With active splints in their early stages, I believe icing is the best anti-inflammatory. Rest from work is also very important to alleviate the inflammation and pain--30 days is usually sufficient time. Other treatments include pressure bandages for support and the use of topical anti-inflammatories such as Surpass (1% diclofenac sodium) cream, DMSO (dimethylsulfoxide), and Furacin (nitrofurazone) ointment. To speed up the healing process, particularly with sport horses, some veterinarians also use steroid injections.

About the Author

Raul Bras, DVM, CJF

Raul Bras, DVM, CJF, is a podiatrist and shareholder at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, where he sees a variety of foot and lameness-related cases. He graduated from Cornell University's farrier school in 2007 and became a certified farrier in 2009 and a certified journeyman farrier in 2010.

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