Sidebone Xrays

Left Front


Right Front


Here is an example of a horse with sidebone on both front feet. The lateral cartilages have ossified into what looks literally like a bone on the sides. The parts that appear ‘broken’ are most likely not fully ossified  yet.

The plainly prominent and deep collateral grooves can prevent flexing of the foot which further prevents shock absorption, which can contribute to the formation of sidebone.

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  1. This is very intresting.

  2. I rescued a horse from auction that has been diagnosed with sidebone. Her xrays look very similar to these (minus the shoes). Was the horse that you posted the xrays of sound or lame?

  3. The horse was sound. Sidebone is not usually a factor in lameness from everything I have heard.

  4. My horse has just been diagnosed with sidebone following x-rays. The sidebones are about the same length as above but all of a piece. He has been slightly lame on and off over the past 2 years but has also had long periods of soundness and competed in show jumping without problems. The vet has said that until ossification is complete there will be some lameness and that I should ride him when sound by try to reduce concussion. My plan is to keep him barefoot and just shoe for essential competitions and not to jump him at all on hard ground.

  5. Hi Phoebe,
    Thanks for the comment. That sounds like a good plan for reducing concussion as shoes are the single biggest source of concussion. If your horse can be sound barefoot you may not need to shoe him at all for competition. Staying off hard ground is never a bad idea. When you have the horse trimmed barefoot I would recommend a trim that maximizes hoof mechanism to make the foot more flexible thus able to absorb more shock. Sidebone remains a big question as to how sound horses can be with it and I’ll be interested to hear updates of your situation.

  6. My 9 year old gelding has just been diognosed with side bone, i am trying to decide on the best treatment for him. the vet said a nerve block for starters, and to see how he does. i have been reading that i should have his shoes removed, and put him in pasture…any advice you could give me would so helpful.
    thank you,

  7. Hi Leslie,

    The most important thing is, is he sound or lame. I’m guessing he’s lame because your vet suggested nerve blocks, to see if he goes sound with the block? Honestly I have never heard of that diagnostic approach for sidebone, and to add to that, sidebone is not normally a cause of lameness (though it is possible). I am not even sure how you would block the nerves to that part of the foot without blocking other parts or nerves too; I don’t believe there is a single, discreet nerve serving the front/side of the top of the foot. I would look into that more. Further, I would look into other causes for the lameness. Such a boney change is low on the list of things that could be causing it.

    Removing the shoes is a good first step. Shoes cause more concussion to the foot and leg than bare feet, and repeated concussion can cause inflammation in the soft tissue which if unabated, causes the soft tissue to try and stabilize by calcifying (which is what sidebone is – the lateral cartilages start ossifying). Being barefoot with a good trim (emphasis on correct trim) will immediately reduce the causative effect. However I don’t think you need to give up and throw your hands up in defeat and retire such a young horse. I would do the normal veterinary diagnostic work and I would get a consultation from a well qualified barefoot trimmer.

    Good luck and keep me posted. Also feel free to send me pictures for a second opinion if you like.


  8. Hi, I have just been reading the comments and was interested. My 6yr old mare suddenly went profoundly lameand was found to have an abscess. This was dealt with over a week period by being released and dressed, although only a small amount of pus was found. Lameness was still evident, and again the foot was peared open to release what again was a small amount. Over the period of approx 3weeks, she was sound lame sound lame, endlessly! There was no pattern or logical explanation to lameness, she had been on box rest and those days where she was sound was allowed to spend time in a sand scholl, but then went lame!So back to box rest.
    Recently contacting the vet yet again has lead to xrays and a ?possible co-incidential finding of side bone. Is it possible that this is in fact the cause of her inconsistent lameness??? And if so what is the future prognosis in terms of riding? My 11year old daughter is devasted as we’ve had the pony 6 months.
    Reply would be appreciated, Thanks, Lisa.

  9. Hi there Lisa, thanks for writing. Based on your statement that the lameness was ‘sudden and profound’, I draw the conclusion that the lameness is from the abscess and not the sidebone. That is the most typical presentation of an abscess. The other evidence that it’s the abscess is that the treatment of paring and trying to drain an abscess, actually causes exactly the pattern you describe of intermittent lameness then soundness then lameness. This is because it has been prematurely opened and partially drains, then the remainder keeps on ‘brewing’, then that drains, there is temporary relief, and it repeats several more times. The better treatment for an abscess is to let it fester until it is ready to blow, letting it form an exit through some part of the foot and encouraging this through soaking in Epsom salts, poulticing, and hand walking to get the circulation going. Definitely not box rest! The more movement the faster it resolves – and you can see this is exactly what happened as each time she was let out to move around, it started draining again (causing the pain/lameness). The restriction of movement actually slowed down the resolution.

    The sidebone is probably incidental, it rarely causes lameness unless it is currently ‘active’ and in the process of calcifying which causes inflammation to be present.

    Good luck with the pony and your daughter!


  10. my 11 yr old gelding has just been x-ray’d and it showed he has fractured sidebone! he has sidebone quite bad (nearly at the pastern joint) on both sides of the foot but until the fracture had been sound. ive been told to put him on 8 weeks box rest then more xrays. hes already barefoot. anyone know what the prognosis is? do you think m gelding will ever be a normal riding horse again?


    • Hi Gillian. A ‘fractured’ sidebone isn’t really fractured, insofar as a sidebone is not a bone, either. It is ossified (hardened) cartilage. The lateral cartilages are hardening and the common name for this condition is ‘sidebone’. What appears as a fracture is actually the only remaining un-ossified part of the cartilage. Once the whole thing ossifies, you will no longer see that line on the xrays. So putting him in a stall for 8 weeks will do absolutely nothing for him except probably drive him batty. Sidebone is not generally something that causes lameness so first, I wouldn’t be concerned about that, and secondly, I would continue looking for the actual cause of his lameness. As far as being barefoot – if he already has boxy upright feet, this creates more concussion on the feet and soft tissue and predisposes a horse to such a condition even with bare feet. How long has he been barefoot for? If you like, you can send picture and your xrays and I would give you my evaluation.

  11. Hi,
    I had an osteopath check my 7 yr old mare yesterday and she thinks there may be a sidebone on the rear right foot. My mare rotates that leg quite strongly at the walk. She is shod and osteopath suggests removing shoes.
    If I do that won’t she wear away the hoof because of the rotation, or will the fact that shoes are off not only give less concussion but perhaps also less rotation or at least cause less stress on the joint? She is not and never has been lame.


    • Hi Lesley,
      Thanks for writing. Did your osteopath not recommend taking xrays? If this is indeed an orthopedic issue I would try and have them done. Having said that (without seeing photos which would allow a much better and specific answer) I would guess that the rotation is due to the way the foot is balanced and not due to a sidebone. When the foot is unbalanced, and then shod, the horse tends to compensate by twisting the foot. This eventually will put undue stress on the hock from the torque of twisting the joint. And by unbalanced I would guess, in this case, that the inside of the foot (the wall) is higher than the outside which is typical for hind feet. The horse no longer lands flat because one side is higher than the other, and must twist its foot during the flightpath to accommodate the changing heights.
      If you would like to send pictures for better evaluation, use the address in the ‘Contact Us’ Form on the front page.

  12. Hi Christina,
    Thanks for fast reply.
    Yes she did recommend doing the X rays. that would be next step. The inside wall is higher.
    Shoes were taken off today (I couldn’t be there) but I discussed situation with blacksmith (not my usual one because my mare is in a training stable right now) beforehand and he also stressed how important is was to get foot level. He has a horse himself with the same problem. He said it was definitely worth trying without shoes. We will be observing carefully what happens now without shoes.
    My mare is not (apparently) in any pain but i want to keep stress out of the joints witha view to avoiding arthritis and any other problems in the future. I will take some pictures tomorrow. Can I submit a film?

    Many thanks again

    • HI Lesley,
      Sometimes, depending on how hard the hoof walls are, you can solve or at least ameliorate this problem by removing the shoes. When barefoot at least the inside wall has somewhat of a chance of wearing down evenly with the outside wall, which obviously is impossible if it’s shod. In addition to over-correcting by trimming the inside shorter (if possible), yYou can encourage the inside wall to wear faster by thinning it with the rasp. Another thing you can do is make sure the horse gets as much turnout as possible. When the horse is loafing around (as in a stall) it unweights and cocks a hind leg, causing uneven pressure on the other hind leg which causes the inside to grow faster.
      If you mean can you email an xray, yes, certainly.
      Good luck

  13. Hello,
    Removing the shoes has created a huge improvement. Obviously she still has a tendency to rotate but it is much, much better. However, of course the hooves themselves are suffering and I am thinking I need hoof boots at least during riding out and working. Are there some you would particularly recommend, bearing in mind they should not “grip” too much or I will have the same problem of stressing the joints as with the normal horseshoes?
    The walls appear to be wearing down evenly … but quickly!
    She is as from today back in her small herd and out for hours a day in a big field with poor grass.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Lesley,
      Glad to hear the shoes are off and your mare is doing well without them. It’s really hard to comment with any specificity at this point without actually seeing the feet. Often people who are used to seeing shod feet are surprised at how ‘small’ a correctly trimmed foot looks to them. Are her walls actually wearing off or are they chipping? Another issue when removing shoes is that the wall that has grown during the time she was shod is weaker and shellier so it will have a tendency to break and wear faster and more. Not until you have unshod growth hitting the ground will the walls be stronger. Finally, you can trim to encourage more growth by encouraging circulation. There are certain things you can do for that in the way you trim. If you would like more specific input you can send me pictures which I can mark up and discuss and post on the blog. Thanks. Christina

  14. Hello,
    I have sent two lots of photos of Kantana’s hind feet from various angles.
    On closer inspection I would say the off hind is wearing down unevenly. Chipping is not too bad. Look forward to your opinion.
    Best Regards,

  15. joanne dewhust


    I bought a horse in dec last year – until now he has been sound, 4 weeks ago whilst at a show he became lame mainly on corners where his outside fore was on the outside – i have rested the horse for 4 weeks since then i have troted him up inhand once a week- he may look sound on the first trot but then lame on the next and so on- but after week 1 the short strides he was taking on the corners had stopped but appears to take short strides occassionally on the straight – i noticed early on in the lamness 2 identical hard lumps just at the bottom of the pastern (but they could of been there all along !) – could this be side bone ?? any advice ps my farrier says it could be a bit of bony chage but i dont know if this is the same thing and how serious it is ?

    • Hi Joanne,
      Sorry to hear your horse is lame. This does not sound like sidebone, it sounds more like ringbone. Sidebone is further down the leg, right inside and right above the hoof capsule. And hard lumps often indicate the presence of ringbone. Boney changes is the catchall term for all these kinds of issues including both sidebone and ringbone. Also lameness from ringbone gets worse as the horse works more, rather than working itself out like navicular might. Most people will tell you it is irreversible but that has not been my experience – with correction of angles I have seen the lumps get smaller in diameter and the horse more comfortable. Reducing concussion by going barefoot also helps. The key to seriousness is whether it is articular or non-articular, and the only way to know is by the vet taking some xrays. Good luck.

  16. Hi. My 7 year old mare developed side bone in both front feet a year ago. She was lame when ridden in our rubber school, more so when she was trotting corners. She had x-rays, was put on Twydil feed suppliment and given 6 months off (as instructed by her vet). The side bone has now fused in both fronts. Is there a possibility of her fracturing her side bone now it is fully fused? She also now points one of her front legs when resting in the field, this is something she never used to do before developing sidebone. is she in any discomfort?

    Yor comments and advice on this matter would be much appreciated.

    Thank you

  17. Hi Ashleine,
    There is no joint where the sidebone is so in reality it is not ‘fusing’. What it actually is, is the lateral cartilages ossifying and turning to a boney substance.
    Sidebone is not usually a cause for lameness, also I’m not familiar with Twydil and how a feed or supplement would help. The cause is usually contracted hoof form and/or excessive concussion on hard surfaces.
    Has she become sound otherwise, in the time between the rest period being over and the pointing starting?
    Given that sidebone isn’t normally a cause for lameness, the fact that she has it in both front feet, but is only pointing one foot, I would say the pointing is an indication of something else. Is she currently shod? I am thinking that there is excessive bar material and/or contraction causing pressure points and the appearance (not the reality) of navicular. I would get a really top notch farrier/trimmer to check the trim. Also do the standard hoof tester procedures.
    Good luck.

  18. Hi Christina,

    I have an 8yr old quarter horse and believe he has sidebone but haven’t had a vet do some x-rays yet. My horse became very lame 4 weeks ago and was on bute for 5 days. After the first five days he was still lame but better and now he doesn’t seem to want to put pressure on that leg when he is standing. He is alway moving that front leg when he is standing as if he is trying to find a spot where there will be less pressure oh his hoof. I rode him for the first time after we noticed he was lame and was fine but the next day he was a little stiff. In the mean time, should I remove his shoes? How long is the process for the cartilages to ossify and turn into a boney substance?

    • Hi Anne-Marie
      I personally have never encountered a horse that has an acute sudden onset of lameness that was caused by sidebone. This is a slow, gradual process that causes some inflammation but not really enough for that kind of pain. The time frame varies from horse to horse but usually is the range of months. The lameness sounds like almost anything else, especially an abscess or navicular or even ringbone, or even a coffin bone wing fracture. I can’t tell whether removing his shoes will help or not without knowing and seeing more but it could depending on what the actual problem is. More important though is to get the hoof form and angles quite correct. And definitely get your vet out and get a diagnosis before deciding how to proceed.

  19. Hi,

    I have a youngster whic i am concerned has side bone, he stands at 17hh and is 4 next month. He has been broken but very slowly only being worked once maybe twice a week. I was hoping to compete him as a show hunter at county level. would this condition affect his career as a show horse.

    I would appreciate any comments

    Many thanks

    • Hi Nick,
      What is the reason for your suspicions of sidebone? I gather you don’t have xrays, does something about his hoof form or shape make you suspect it? As long as you bring him along correctly, if he does have it, it should not affect a show career, but if you do suspect he might have it or be working towards it, perhaps you should evaluate his shoeing or trimming and make any changes that might reduce the risk of developing it. That would be a low heel, and ensuring the hoof is not contracted and has hoof mechanism so that it expands upon weightbearing and the cartilages have room inside the hoof capsule to function properly.

  20. Hi, Reading this thread has been brilliant.

    My horse has severe sidebones in both fronts, hes been barefoot for 18 months and mostly sound as long as he gets enough turn out. His right fore is very boxy, can you give me some more advice on what sort of trim is best for encouraging circulation etc to his boxy hoof. It grew upright and he had contracted heels because of the sidebone, we believe it was caused by too much concussion and poor shoeing, so his foot probably wasn’t originally this shape.

    • Hi. I think the reverse of the progress of events is true – i.e. sidebone is caused by a foot becoming increasingly boxy, not the other way around. A narrow boxy foot prevents proper weightbearing and expansion of the lateral cartliages. As they are contintually ‘squeezed’ into a narrow hoof capsule, they eventually they ossify (become sidebone). Concussion is a factor but only secondary, a correct hoof form should be able to adequately dissipate and absorb concussion.

      My approach to trimming it would be to try and reverse the boxy shape by keeping the collateral grooves correctly short, the bars in check (not too long) which affects the depth of the collateral groove, and removing ‘hooks’ from the heels (if any) to allow expansion at the heel.

  21. My horse has been diagnosised with side bone in the front hoof. She is 5 years, now barefoot. The vet said the area is starting to harden and to allow 8 weeks rest. When I do start riding her – do I still have to be really careful ? Does side bone mean early arthritis ? and as she is 5 years what is the likelihood that she will go unsound in later years ? i bred her for showing, show hunter, saddle hunter classses so would love to be able to still do this. But don’t want a broken down horse in 3 years time because I have done so.

    • I would correct the hoof form. Make sure the hooves are not heavily contracted and upright. This is the type of hoof form that can lead to sidebone. Sidebone and arthritis are not related. Usually once sidebone has set, the horse is not lame.

  22. I would also like to know can side bone when it is just starting to ossify be reversed ? can anything be done to minimise damage ? such as walking to stimulate circulation ? does side bone go down/resolve a bit with time ? Is it possible for it to de calicfy with time or stimulation ?

    • I’m not aware of sidebone reversing, but if it is very minimal and the conditions are corrected to stop it, perhaps it might be possible. You would have to have perfect conditions though – i.e. totally correct hoof form.

  23. Hi, in relation to: “A ‘fractured’ sidebone isn’t really fractured” and “What appears as a fracture is actually the only remaining un-ossified part of the cartilage” .. I beg to differ.

    My 12yr old eventer had eggbar shoes on for 3-4yrs before we bought him which meant he had severe contraction in his heels. We’re not entirely sure when he developed side bone but when we bought him the sidebone was fully ossified. When we bought him we immediately put him in regular shoes hoping to reverse the contraction.

    After two years of instense training and competition he went severely lame. The x-rays showed fractures in the lateral cartilage (or sidebones) on both front feet.

    The vet said these fractures were due to the extreme pressure put on the cartilage (due to the size and placementof the sidebone) and also the lack of shock absorption (due to heel contraction and size of the hoof). Also, the galloping and jumping involved in eventing put him at a much higher risk.

    The vet prescribed 3months paddock rest barefoot and eggbar shoes once he is back in work. The eggbars will hopefully reduce the pressure put on the heel and therefore the sidebone reducing the risk of this happening again. This horse will no longer be eventing and will be used instead for dressage.

  24. I agree, sidebone alone does not cause lameness, but this condition can pose a risk depending on what the horse is used for, hoof formation and overall conformation.

  25. I have a big homebred 6y.o. Holst x ID we bred to showjump. Last year he was “a potential top horse”; late last year he started tripping and now he is intermittently slightly lame and miserable. The vet blamed broken heels but Xrays show he has the sidebone in front of a 12 yr old yet he has only been worked for around 12 months total as we left him to grow. He had eggbars on and went for professional training “to get him using himself correctly” and promptly went hopping lame. The pro changed them to long backs and wide web shoes for more support and we are now back to square one and he has come home (after spending pots of money). The pro’s farrier says with that sidebone he will never make a jumper. We just want him sound so what next? With the poor heels our farrier on vet’s advice had kept dumping his toes as far as possible to try to get some heel growth but the end result was his natural great flat plates ended up half their natural size and I am convinced this lack of bearing area caused the sidebone. As someone said, you can’t run a marathon in high heels. I kept pointing this out but they said this was the way to go. I am minded to take his shoes off and try natural trimming and maybe some boots with pads. Any comments? Is there any chance of him jumping again ever if only in an arena?

    • Hi Janet, I am sorry to hear another account of this all too common story. You don’t say how old he is but obviously he is young and just started in training. The eggbar shoes sound like the origin of your issues. They have a tendency to contract the heels (perhaps your vet was on to something with the ‘broken heels’ but didn’t identify the source for that problem). The more the foot contract the less space there is for the cartilage to work properly – the contracted capsule ‘pushes’ the lateral cartilage out of the capsule. Sounds like the strategy of dumping toes to get heel contributed to the problem, not mitigated or solved it. What I would suggest is opening up the back of the foot via trimming properly and give the foot some room to expand, witih room for the lateral cartilages.

      Despite their claims that ‘this is the way to go’, clearly it iis not or your horse would not be lame. Not sure what this does to your training schedule but I would start from square one with the ideas you’re contemplating, ie. barefoot with some natural trimming but definitely open up the heel area. Give this as much time as it needs (shouldn’t be too much) and no reason why he can’t jump without shoes, despite the ‘pro’s’ insistence to the contrary.

      Good luck.

  26. I had a second set of Xrays done on all four feet and that was a shock. He has sidebone in all of them but is lame on just the one front. That foot has huge side bone compared to the others, is most boxy, has the most contracted heel and the sidebone had got worse – not just the length of the foot and full height but had started thickening. The ortho vet said the side bone is still forming and he is lame because the lack of heel support makes the hoof flex and breaks the developing sidebone which reforms, then breaks again, reforms, etc.

    Despite this I’m now feeling a lot happier because things have stopped getting worse. We are on the second set of eggbars which have been prescribed to help the contracted heels grow and expand to give his feet some support. His feet are rebalanced every four weeks. Better heels should stop the flexing they say. The farrier says it’s beginning to work and he has more heel now. The good front foot is a much better shape after just two sets and even the bad one is improving. He only looks a little unsure when trotting on a downhill slope now, otherwise sound.

    They are talking about getting him back jumping at an amateur level on a soft surface eventually. They did agree that if the eggbars didn’t work by August we would try barefoot but that would be a long haul.

    • Eggbars will have the opposite effect on heels – they will cause the heels to contract. I find it perverse to believe that completely encasing a hoof in an enclosed oval can somehow help to decontract the foot. What little movement is left at the back of the hoof with regular shoes (at the part where there is no iron) is completely lost in the fully enclosed oval eggbar shape. All one needs to do is look around dressage rings, the preponderance of egg bar shoes, and observe how many feet are contracted.

  27. But our eggbars don’t encase the foot like that. The back of the shoe extends out way behind and he has to wear overreach boots to stop him walking them off. They are also bevelled to encourage him to breakover sooner and carefully balanced so he breaks over straight . The first pair were made too short and the farrier had to put the second pair on with both vets supervising (not many farriers would do that!). I read there is a danger that the heels can get compressed down in the middle but that’s not happening. I think the improvement is a lot down to the balancing as he was instantly sounder as soon as the new set went on. It’s early days for us but I am impressed so far even though my instincts told me originally to take the shoes off.

    • Is there any part of this shoe that is open in the back, regardless of the fact that it extends back beyond the heel? Can you find and post a link to a picture of this shoe online to get a look at it, as I can’t picture how an eggbar cannot be closed, in fact closing the opening is the point of the ‘bar’.
      Also while the placement of the shoe can alter breakover and have other such effects, this is not balance per se. A shoe does not alter balance (unless perhaps there are wedge pads which again is not the shoe per se), so the balance is dependent upon the trim, not the shoe.

  28. Hi Everyone, Well heres my story! I have just had a pre purchase vetting done on a talented 6yr holsteiner x . I was so excited about purchasing this horse but sidebone was apparent in both front feet.
    He is 17hh, a heavy type,has spent 2 years in very light work,dressage only.
    I wont touch this horse with a barge pole now. I dont care what anyone says about sidebone, as far as Im concerned it seriously affects any sort of resale!!

    • P.S I was purchasing him as a showjumper. And believe that if it has formed from very light work,what is it going to do with concussion from jumping????

  29. Well, our big Holsteiner X is currently barefoot out in the field 24/7. He went almost sound with the eggbars and other vet attention but as he got sounder he was walking the eggbars off all the time so we have ended up going the barefoot route by default. He appears sound now but we are giving it more time for the sidbone to harden. Finger crossed at the moment. Our problem was the sidebone was much worse on one foot than the other and his foot conformation with low heel made it worse they think.

    • I just wanted to add, to encourage people, that my horse is back jumping, *barefoot*. He became a handful this spring and needed a job to do. He has now been in work almost 3 months and touchwood is sound. He is jumped sparingly only on a surface. Fittening is done uphill on good ground and we keep him lean. Plus he’s still out in the field every day even when hard and frosty. He jumped a class a day 3 days in a row a couple of weeks ago in his first show back and was clearing 1.30s in a lesson since. Once properly fit we are aiming for 1.10 and maybe 1.20 classes this years.

  30. Hi i have a 7 year old horses who has been diagnosed with laminitis.When the vet took xrays she told me to hand them to a farrier which he told me he also has this plus his ligaments are turning to bone in his feet. The horse has had shoes on and been done every 6 weeks.what is the prognosis of his condition. Any advice would be helpful.

    • Hi Shanice,

      You have two entirely different conditions going on here, laminitis and sidebone.

      First of all you don’t mention the breed of your horse; some breeds are more prone to laminitis. This is inflammation of the laminae and you cannot see it on Xray. The first things to do is to examine your horse’s diet and environment. If he is overweight you need to get his weight down with diet and exercise (see the article on EMS and the importance of exerices in managing it, in the articles section of this blog).
      Then you should consider low starch grains, low NSC hay (have it tested) and limit grass if necessary with a muzzle or dry lot. Also have bloodwork done for insulin resistance and thyroid function and treat accordingly.

      As far as the ‘turning to bone’, it is not the ligaments but the lateral cartilages that would be ossifying and this is known as sidebone. The predisposing factors for sidebone are contracted feet (caused by shoeing predominantly), concussion (caused by shoeing predominantly), and breeding (narrow tall feet with very hard walls that limit expansion). So unless you are willing to go barefoot there is not much you can do about the predisposing conditions and intend to reverse it. So basically you just have to stick it out until the ossification process is complete at which time the lameness should stop being a problem. Many people find that set sidebones do not cause significant problems. I would work on the laminitis which is probably more the cause for problems.

  31. I buy train and sell horses. I bought a beautiful sorrol gelding that must have been Buted. Light lameness at a trot. I found he had mild Navicular. I was sent to a Farrier in a near by town. He shoed the horse with aluminum shoes he trotted off sound and I worked him lightly pleasureish and he was fine.

    The F. had me take a steel shoe, hold it tight and bang it hard on the anvil! What hard and long Vibriation, it hurt my hand. I did the same with a A. shoe and wow what a difference very little concusion. Some of these folks might try it and opt to use A. shoes in cases of mild unsoundness..

    • So you think ‘very little concussion’ is acceptable? If using a lighter shoe reduced the concussion significantly, wouldn’t not using any shoe at all reduce it even further? How do you decide how much concussion is acceptable? Why didn’t you try the horse barefoot and see if he also would trot off sound?

      In this case study you present – what is your conclusion and how do you arrive at it? Do you believe the horse went sound because his shoes were lighter? Or did aluminum somehow make him sound? Or some other explanation?

  32. My six year old Arab-X gelding has just been diagnosed with a fractured side bone in the off fore and I’ve been told by the vet to rest him for 6 to 12 months or surgical intervention to remove the side bone – neither prognosis is good. The farrier says that basically that is the end of his riding career and that i am just prolonging the inevitable! I have been doing competitive trail riding with the horse and he was broken in at 4 years old. He shows some lameness on the right rein at the trot and sometimes i can see it at the walk as well. He has been like that for 3 weeks now. What I’m reading here is that side bone isn’t really a cause of lameness and that something else is probably going on? I would really appreciate you taking a look at his x-rays please. I’ve put a lot of work into this horse and he was starting to show a lot of promise – I’m searching for a course of action. He has been barefoot all his life and trimmed regularly. He is on a good natural diet and i’m also starting him on a course of herbs to hopefully help the condition. Any suggestions will be gratefully received – many thanks and look forward to hearing back from you.

    • HI Sally

      What you’ve read here regarding sidebone not being a cause of lameness, has to do specifically with sidebone, per se. A fracture, if there is one, would be a different story. The thing that is hard to understand is how something that is not technically a bone (side’bone’ being a misnomer), but rather ossified cartilage, can fracture. Furthermore I don’t know how you could remove the ‘sidebone’ since technically it is the cartilage holding the P3 and P2 to each other. Unless the vet means to scrape away the ‘fractured’ part and hope it heals over. I’m not sure how well or if that could work, given there is extremely little vascularity in the area.

      My instinct in these kinds of cases is that the horse has a long standing issue of being incorrectly trimmed, finally develops clinical lameness, and anything that can be found on radiographs is singled out as a cause. This is very common with ringbone for example. Feet and legs that develop sidebone tend to issues of alignment as so forth that makes them prone to develop sidebone, and the same poor hoof form/trimming can and will result in lameness problems. So what I’m saying is the presence of a ‘fracture’ may not be the source of the problem.

      I would be very interested in seeing your xrays. I don’t supposed you have previous ones for comparison by any chance? I’d also like to see pictures if possible, to see if those trimming issues are visible. You can email them to me at I look forward to seeing them.

  33. My rising 6 year old Dales Pony has just been diagosed with sidebone. He also suffers from laminitis brought on by fertiliiser and has bone spavin in his hocks. He is currently 4/10ths lame in trot and 2/10ths lame in walk, will he ever be sound enough to ride? Will box rest imrove things?

    • Hi Kristy,
      I’m not going to offer veterinary advice or predict your pony’s soundness, but – if there is a single cause such as fertilizer, obviously removing that cause should correct the problem. Assuming of course the pony’s hoof form is correct and he is not suffering from mechanically induced laminitis/founder. Insure that the hoof balance is correct and the heel height is not causing mechanical stress on the laminar connection to the coffin bone.

      Sidebone and bone spavin are separate issues and also caused by improper hoof balance. With all these problems it sounds like his hooves are extremely out of balance and causing these issues. Box rest will not improve his hoof balance. Seek out a consultation from a good barefoot trimmer or farrier that understands how to balance a hoof. Observe the pictures of correct hoof form on this blog and compare to your pony’s feet.

  34. So I finally got my horse to the vet today to look at his leg. I need some help understanding the discharge sheet. So here it is. They also said something about possible ringbone?!?!

    Approximately 5weeks ago, Noah sustained a penetrating wound to the dorsolateral aspect of the pastern just proximal to the coronary band. He was initially non-weight bearing lame and developed a draining tract. He was placed on SMZs (may 1-8) which resolved the drainage and improved his lameness. He has been off antibiotics approximately two weeks with no discharge and a mild 4/5 RF lameness persists.


    Clinical Findings:
    Radiographs reveal a fracture of his lateral sidebone with resorption changes occurring within the bone. Additionally, proliferative cortical bone deposition was noted along P2 and P1 at the joint capsule attachments (dorsal and dorsal lateral aspect). Ultrasound revealed a hypoechoic tract which extended deep to the coronary band. No abscess pocket was identifiable. The lateral collateral ligament demonstrates relatively normal fiber pattern; however, the cortical surface at the insertion of the chondrocoronal ligament is moderately irregular.

    Daily sweat wrap of the pastern until instructed to discontinue.

    Restrict exercise to small paddock area.

    • Hi – it sounds like your horse has several unrelated things going on that happened to be identified in conjunction with getting xrays for the injury.

      – the’cortical deposition’ is yes, another way of saying ringbone. It probably is nothing outside of normal wear and tear for a horse your age

      – fracture of the sidebone. The sidebone is not a real bone, it is ossified cartilage so a ‘fracture’ can’t heal like a bone would with deposition of cells along a matrix that would join the fracture. No way to know if it was related to the injury but in my experience it seems like vets call the last un-ossified part a ‘fracture’. I would just monitor it and see if it progresses.

      – also the ligament sounds like normal wear and tear

      – sounds like the injury drained and there’s no abscess. I would follow the instructions and keep an eye on him and reexamine if called for.

      Good luck.

  35. Hi, my 6 yr old welsh cob caught her foot in barbed wire last year, she was kept in and treated for the large laceration caused by this at the back of her pastern, several wks later she was still lame even though the wound had healed, the vet said that she had cut into the cartilidge to the outside of her pastern and that rest was the best thing and if it persisted then to x-ray.
    After a winter of mainly being in she was sound, although i’d not worked her.
    6 weeks ago the horses where turned out for summer grazing and having more time i started to re-break my mare, after a couple of weeks she went lame. I had the farrier look at her and he says shes developing sidebone at the site of the injury and to wait for the change to happen and she should go sound, he didnt want to put shoes on, her hoof however is growing what looks like on a slant to the inside, but he said that shes landing flat so to leave alone for now, Is it possible that after the injury and several mths of lameness and then she went sound and now gone lame again, could sidebone do this ??

    • Hi Jane

      Sorry to hear about your mare’s issues. The short answer is it’s possible but it’s a lot more complicated than that. There is a lot going on with your mare’s foot as you describe and it is very hard to pinpoint what might be causing the lameness based on the limited information. It’s possible that developing sidebone is causing the lameness – or to the opposite extreme it’s possible there’s no sidebone. The injury you say was at the back of the pastern, not the side so it’s not clear why such an injury would be causing sidebone to occur. I wouldn’t take a diagnosis of sidebone as definitive without xrays, either. Or, there could be sidebone developing irrespective of the injury. It could be from the confinement, how she was trimmed during the confinement and using her foot during that time.

      Of more concern to me is how you say the hoof is growing at a slant and your farrier saying to leave it alone just because she is landing flat. This is incorrect hoof form and should be addressed, and is actually more likely the cause of her lameness issues. Or could be causing the sidebone itself. If you want to pursue this you could send me pictures and xrays and I could have a look a them. I would do everything possible to correct the improper hoof form before it becomes irreversible. Good luck.

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