No More Ringbone

A Horse Who No Longer Has Ringbone



She is a 20+ yo Morgan mare who was grade 5 lame and retired.  The original diagnosis for the lameness was navicular. With the prescribed bar shoes, she pulled a sesamoidean ligament within 24 hours. The shoes were removed, and a second opinion diagnosed the ringbone. The treatment prescribed was retirement, with the advice to give bute the day before if the owner wished to ride her. 

Within seven months of correct trimming she has regained complete soundness and gets regularly ridden.



The long toe was  later shortened.

Improvement in the quality and appearance of the coat is visible (not so coarse, has more shine), as a result of the increased circulation to the hooves and legs.

The lateral cartilage is no longer so prominent and pushed up out of the hoof capsule, now that the heels have been brought back even with the widest part of the frog, and the walls in the quarters have been shortened. Such a displacement of the lateral cartilages can lead to ossifications such as sidebone, or contribute to ringbone. Most importantly the steep pastern has taken on a better angle by virtue of the heels being lowered and brought back even with the widest part of the frog. This steep alignment is the factor that most contributes to and predisposes a horse to developing ringbone, as it puts excess and unnatural strain on the extensor tendon; its attachment  point becomes inflamed and eventually stabilizes by calcifying.

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  1. Hi,
    I am hoping to reach Christina with this email, or whoever it is that posted that photo of the leg with ringbone that accompanies that article about the “horse who no longer has ringbone”. I am creating an educational and instructional video about natural hoof care (which I think will really help some horses!) and if it is ok with you, I would like to flash that photo on the screen for about 5 seconds, when ringbone is mentioned. Did you take that picture? Can I have your permission to use it, and if so, I’d like to give you a credit to acknowledge that it’s your photo…so please let me know your full name, if you would like. Again, assuming that is yours. If not maybe you can tell me where you got it? I’m just trying to give credit where credit is due! I know this is all a lot of information for an email, but I didn’t know how else to reach you, and if you’d like to simply call me direct, please do at 530-589-1265. I’m in California, so just remember it’s west coast time. Thanks a bunch and I look forward to hearing from you, or from anyone who can point me in the right direction! -Lucinda

  2. I have a 27 year old Quarter Horse that has extremely bad Ring Bone. I have a wonderful ferrier that has bent over backwards to help my boy Cody. The heal has to be up and the toe rolled, and short. It has worked for him, I have also used the bute thing but its not good to keep him on bute for along time, so my vet just recommended this cream called Surpass and you put it on 1x aday for about a week then lay off for a little bit. It does work so far and Cody is feeling better. Trust me I have tried numerous things to help him feel better. He is retired but he still likes to get out and go for a little walk now and then, no trotting or running but just a little walk.Anyway try the surpass it does work.

  3. Hi,
    what correct trimming was used and is there anyone in Vic, Australia who can perform this on my horse? Or can tell my farrier how to go about trimming my horse with ringbone? I would love to cure his ringbone. Have tried everything…. even tildren injection at $1200 a pop….

  4. Hi Monique,
    By correct trimming I mean a well balanced foot in both the medial/lateral direction (side to side) and A/P (front to back). If a horse’s foot is continuously high on one side the stress is uneven and that leads to bony ossifications. Look at the difference in the hoof-pastern axis in this case study before and after and that shows a progression from lack of proper AP balance, to having it corrected. When the AP balance is off, there is too much stress on the extensor tendon and eventually the point of stress hardens and calcifies into ringbone.

    I do know there are good trimmers in Australia but not where they are in relation to you. Being in the US I’m not that familiar with your geography. One person you can try contacting is Carola Adolf thru the internet; if she is not near you maybe she knows someone who is.

    Another suggestion I have is to join the Yahoo barefoot group loosely associated with this blog –
    There you can get specific critiques of your horse’s trim and balance if you post pictures and you can share with your farrier. There are also people there from all over the world who may be able to help you locate a trimmer.
    Good luck,

  5. I have a 17 year-old appy with low ringbone on both front feet. Started natural trimming about a year ago. The ringbone in the LF has disappeared and considerably smaller on the RF. We have had some periods of soundness where I was able to ride him, but is now extremely lame again.
    I am giving up hope. His feet are much improved (still no sole concavity). His health overall appears to be better then it has been for quite some time. Has severe arthritis which has improved but still see swelling in the knees and lots of popping and crackling when he moves.

    Is there hope; I hate to see him hobbling around.

    • I bought a horse who is now retired to Old Friends. He also has cracking when he walks due to Degenerative joint Disease. He is bone on bone in the right front (no cartilage is left at all) we have started him on Conquer Liquid and so far he is doing considerably better on it

      • Glad to hear something is able to help that condition. I haven’t heard of anything helping bone on bone cartilage wear. Is it a joint supplement?

  6. Hi Marlene,
    There could be a lot of different reasons why your horse could still be lame other than the ringbone, such as the lack of concavity you describe. It does sound like the trimming is helping. The only way I’d be able to offer advice or suggestions is by seeing a full set of pictures and history. I suggest if you’re interested sign up to the barefoothoofcare yahoo group to submit a case study for review. The join button is at the bottom of the page on the front page. If that doesn’t work for you send me an email. Good luck.

  7. hi my horse is a 6 yr old warmblood gelding who has gone chronically lame and we have had x rays and he has been found to have lower leg ringbone. his confirmation has always been perfect. his feet are well balanced and trimmed regularly. but he is in agony even on bute can anyone help me he is such a trooper and never plays came on so suddenly and he has been on bute for the last 8 weeks.

    • rachel

      i am keen to hear the outcome of lesley’s horse as i have a rising five year old warmblood who is developing ringbone and am in a quandry as to whether to go for no shoes or rolled toe shoes etc. it seems to have started the same way- rapid onset and he is also very stoic about it and i just want to be able to lengthen and imrpove his life as much as i can.

      • Five years old is much too young to be developing ringbone. Rolled toes and such, does not address the cause, it just shortens the stride phase, so making the joint go through less range of motion and thus less opportunity for pain. Address the balance of the foot which is the cause of ringbone.

  8. Hi Lesley,
    If he has perfect conformation, is well trimmed and balanced then he should not be lame or have ringbone. There can be other reasons for lameness in a horse with ringbone, unrelated to the ringbone. Without seeing pictures and xrays there is no way to tell what is going on. Could you send pictures and xrays so I could have a look and hopefully give you some suggestions as to the problem? You can email me at barefoothoofcare at verizon dot net.
    Thanks and good luck,Christina

  9. Hi Christina –

    My 13 yo QH gelding was just diagnosed with a Ring Bone. How can I send you his X-rays to see if he would benefit from correct trimming ? Who would you recommend to do that in Southern California ?

    • HI Natasha,
      If you have emails of the Xrays you can email them to me at barefoothoofcare@verizon. net
      Here are the names of some SoCal trimmers that I know of

      James Welz, Phoenix, Arizona EMAIL: jim @ PHONE: 623-935-1823 Click here for James’ webpage.
      Barefoot hoofcare professional, trimming since 1999, special interest in performance/working horses and young horses that can be molded from birth for outstanding, high performance hooves. Over 9 years full-time trimming experience with hundreds of barefoot horses (200+ horses per month) in the desert southwest environment (very hard/rocky/dry). Innovative techniques and a special method developed for barefoot success, utilizing a mustang/wild horse model for trimming, but with attention paid to details that make James’ trim unique. He also has a special interest in Dr. Robert Bowker’s concepts about peripheral loading. Many satisfied customers with their horses trimmed for up to 9 years now. Hoof boot consultation and fitting also available (Easycare boots). Graduated from ESHOP/Strasser Course in Germany in 2001. Member, AFA American Farrier’s Association. Technical Editor, The Horse’s Hoof Magazine. Please see Hoof Corner, and THH Trimcast for more details about James’ method. (11/08)

      Dave Fitton, Strathmore, California, Phone 559-359-7239 email: cfitton @ (08/06)

      Dr. Odette Suter, Pacific Palisades (LA), California. Email: odettesuter @, Phone: 310-454-7401 Website:

      Tracy Raffaele

      If they are not in your area, they can probably direct you to someone who is. There is also a listing of many more at, but I can’t speak to their skill or knowledge.

  10. Hi .. I have a 30 year old Quarter Horse who has suffered most of his life with hoof ailments. We were told he had navicular and we were told he had laminitis. Recently, I had the opportunity to take him to Dr. Ric Redden in Versailles, Ky. I was shocked to find out he has neither navicular or laminitis, but what he does have is ring bone. This past week he has been suffering with a swollen leg and puffiness around the coronary band. I noticed some seeping from the coronary band, which led me to believe he has an absess. However, the swelling has not gone down. I have been giving him bute, but he is in a lot of pain and lays down quite a bit. I am thinking I need to get an antibiotic. Do I need to soak the leg? Jo

    • Jo, your horse sounds like he has some serious issues if he has swelling, is laying down, and is in a lot of pain. While he may have ringbone, these symptoms would not be caused by it. What did Dr. Redden do? I think you need more aggressive treatment than an antibiotic but you need to find out what’s going on first. I can’t tell you from this information whether to soak the leg or not. It sounds like either he may have a very bad abscess or have foundered, or both. Please get a good vet involved ASAP, go see Dr. Redden again if you have to.

  11. I have a 12 year old mare that has been diagnosed with high and low ringbone in both front feet, she has navicular in her right front and a small rotation in her left front. The vet suggested bar shoes for the rotation and adequan for the ringbone. He also said that she will only be a pasture horse for the rest of her life, which is fine as long as she is not in pain. I would really like to get your opinion on what I should do and any suggestions on finding a hoof trimmer in the North Alabama or southern Tennesse area. Bill

    • Hi Bill,
      I think you can do a lot better than pasture sound for your horse if you get a knowledgeable trimmer to help with your horse. Go to The Horse’s Hoof website and click on the links on the left – Trimmer’s List and Friend’s List for a list of trimmers. It is arranged by geographic region and there are quite a few listed in TE and a few in AL.

      Your mare sounds like she may have a lot of problems, but ringbone isn’t necessarily something that causes lameness depending on whether it is articular or not. Rotation is not helped with shoeing per se but corrected with the angle being changed through trimming. Most likely the heel is high and is causing the rotation and needs to be lowered. Navicular also can be mitigated by correct trimming.

      Good luck.

  12. Hi Christina,

    I recently aquired a 22 year old mustang mare and she has ringbone in her left front foot. I had my Farrier come out this past tuesday he trimmed her foot and put shoes back on her feet. He said that she needs to have them on until her heels are where they should be to support her. The person’s Farrier whom I got my mare from told her that she needed to have shoes all the time and wedges. What do you think would be the best for my horse? I would love to see her sound. Your information on this page has given me hope. Thank you

    • Hi Heidi,
      thanks for the post and the question. It’s hard to say without seeing your horse’s feet but I have my doubts about the shoeing approach to fix this problem. For one thing, ringbone is a product of too much concussion on a strained tendinous connection and shoeing increases concussion. For another, heels do not ‘support’ a horse. The one thing they can do in terms of the way they are trimmed or shod is be either higher, or lower, which creates your hoof wall angle and pastern angle. These angles affect whether the horse will develop ringbone. Perhaps he means that the heels are underrun or even too short and he is trying to get them to grow higher, but even so, underrun heels are easier to treat barefoot than with shoes. In fact shoeing exacerbates underrun heels because you can’t trim the toe often enough and they drag the heels under. But usually that is not the hoof form associated with ringbone.

      The other possibility is that he feels the heels are too short and are wearing off too much and the shoe will get them to grow higher. This is another falsehood, I have never encountered heels on front feet that were too short and didn’t need trimming, or couldn’t grow enough, even on horses that work a lot.

      So bottom line is without seeing the angles and the trim I couldn’t really say which direction you should go. But be sure your vet confirms via xray that your mare truly does have articular ringbone, the kind that causes lameness, so that you know what you are working with.

      Good luck.

  13. I have a 7-year old Appendix gelding w/ringbone. I only put 4 rides on him the year I found it. I haave since ridden him once weekly checking & gathering cattle. . .sometimes it’s a pretty good ride in mountainous, rough terrain. I took his shoes off a couple months ago & am leaving him barefoot. Will the riding progress the ringbone, now? I give him bute b/f, during & after riding him. I guess it’s suppose to be an inflammatory medicine, also.

    • Hi, ringbone is primarily a problem that occurs do to incorrect hoof form, ie. improper angles. Incorrect angles put strain on the tendons and their attachment points. Inflammation results at the overstrained attachment points which eventually the body stabilizes by calcifying the strained tissue. The best way to prevent/ameliorate this problem is by correcting the angles. Shoeing does increase concussion which hastens the ossifying but preventing it to begin with by correct trimming is the best approach. Anti-inflammatories would probably slow it down too but this is only palliative.

  14. Also, would it help to rub him up with something & boot him or wrap his foot?

  15. My 16 yr old QH was diagnosed with ringbone right above his hoof a few months ago by our farrier. He said that with regular excersise and to auctually stress the joint that it will fuse together(figure 8’s etc), and that though my horse wouldn’t be able to bend that part, that he wouldn’t be in pain/lame. Is this true or am I just making it worse? The ringbone is very noticable and is hard and the size of a marble, but he doesn’t limp or favor it even if ridden hard for hours, but when my step-dad rides him he limps within a mile.. Also do boots and wraps help or no?

    • Only a vet can diagnose a medical condition. I would get a diagnosis via Xray from a vet, not a farrier touching it. The key is whether it is articular or not and you can’t tell by feeling it. If he’s not lame it’s probably not on the joint and if it’s not on the joint, there’s nothing to fuse. So it sounds like your farrier is blowing smoke.

      Oh, and no, boots and wraps will likely not do anything. Maybe boots can relieve some concussion but not enough to make a difference. Is the horse shod? Were you thinking of putting boots on over shoes?

  16. Hi. i have 3 year old quarter horse stallion that im thinking about rescuing and he didnt have his feet done till he was 2 and his right front hoof is more like bowed out on each side of hoof and is swelled up to the shoulder, can anyone give me a idea on what is could be? Some ppl say its founder, and a absese but idk

    Thanks Erin

    • Erin, it’s hard to say what it is without seeing a picture. Do you mean his whole leg is swollen up to the shoulder? That sounds serious. Is there any way to have a vet check him out before deciding whether to rescue him? He may have had an injury. The bowing out does not sound like founder. Usually horses don’t founder on one foot only. So I would guess something else is going on.

      • yea its up to shoulder, and i called the vet and its just super expensive so im trying to get peoples thoughts on what it could be, does it sound the least bit like a coffin bone rotation? he not really that lame though…


        • No Erin it doesn’t sound like coffin bone rotation at all. Rotation is what happens during founder, or rather founder is the result of rotation.

          Is there any way you could get more information, like some pictures of the foot and leg including sole? Then I might be able to help you with some ideas.
          Bear in mind that whatever it is will probably be expensive to treat and fix so consider carefully whether to rescue him.

      • whats ur email and i cant send u some pics of what the leg and foot looks like

    • ok i sent a couple

  17. yea its up to shoulder, and i called the vet and its just super expensive so im trying to get peoples thoughts on what it could be, does it sound the least bit like a coffin bone rotation? he not really that lame though…


  18. I have a 18yr old appendix mare with high ringbone both articular and periarticular, i got her 6 years ago she was sound when i got her, let someone ride her pretty hard and that started the whole chain and lameness ive been detailing with for the last 6 years, ive tryed everything when my budget, currently doing homeopathics on her, are you knowledgable in that,iam told it could dissolve the ringbone.

  19. Hi! I just bought this OTTB and he has some feet/hoof problems. What would you suggest for him? I knew it was going to be a challenge but I just couldn’t pass up this scrawny, poor footed boy. Thanks! I really admire your work!

    • Who says he is poor footed? He looks like he just needs a good trim. The left and right feet are unbalanced, relative to each other. The left has a long, underrun heel. Get the heel back and underneath him for a better base of support. The right foot on the other hand, is too low and on the ground. Let that one grow and get longer. There are probably other problems with the sole/bar that are not visible in this view.

      Get yourself a good barefoot trimmer and balance those feet! Imbalances cause stress on joints – arhthritis – i.e. ringbone. Balanced trimming can correct it.

  20. Is this blog still active? Christina? if you are still around could you shoot me an email. I am very interested in what you might have to say about my guy. kristie dot lindley at yahoo dot com thanks so much

  21. Hi there, Im emailing from the uk!! 😉 Im after some help/advise please
    I have a 15.2hh Welsh Sec D gelding, 13 yr old called Ruben. He has suffered from ringbone badly for year and half year, he just showed some lameness signs before.
    He had steroid injections 14months ago they lasted 5 months, he has had them again and they lasted a further 5 months. He had some more 6weeks ago and they havnt worked. Im now giving him a bute in the morning and one at night which to be honest isnt making him 100% I gave him two this morning and took him out for a steady hack which he was ok with.
    I used a barefoot lady before but my vet advised to use a farrier as they are not deemed ‘qualified’ over here.
    I now use a highly recommenced farrier, but Iam aware his feet are two long on the xrays he was left as we wanted the vet to do the xrays to see what shoes or treatment rue needed
    he is on glucosamine and bute, Im really fighting with myself as he comes down the field awfully lame its horride to watch him I dont know if I should call it aday or is anything you can recommend??
    he has ringbone in both legs, they are visable to the eye and big in size

    Thank you for your time

  22. Hello… I am considering taking a wonderful quarter gelding out of a killpen (from auction yard),
    everything so nice about him including his condition, manners, disposition..
    but he was put there because of having ringbone on his back right
    pastern. He favors it a bit .. but mainly at the trott. To see a picture of
    him one needs to go online: Enumclaw, WA, Horse Auction sales Pavilion
    or look in Facebook Horse Auction and he is posted with pics.. 8 year old
    quarter. I am wondering if a horse like this could still be used as a young child’s lesson horse or horse in a therapy center… but my question is..
    can a horse with ringbone that’s not that bad right now… can they be used
    lightly or is he always going to be lame and getting worse? I am wanting to
    pull a horse from killpen and ‘rescue’ rehab one.. but not to keep to pass
    on to a children’s program as donation. Any feedback or opinion on
    this horse. (for me to get a vet out and do exrays, etc. right now out of
    question and horse only has few days left.. plus I live a distance plus trying to save the money for his care/vet, farrier once here… (I have space for him
    here with my few other horses..
    Thank you.. any advice or comments are very welcome!!!
    Trying to decide in Oregon-Julia

    • HI Julia

      Very commendable that you are trying to save a horse’s life for a good cause. I work with a woman who does this reqgularly and she chooses the horses that I believe can be successfully rehabbed based on my opinion and experience and all the ones we’ve done have gone on to productive new careers. However there’s more to just taking a horse and trimming its feet, these types of horses almost always need some kind of supportive care in the form of herbs, supplements and so forth to get them on the road to recovery, and a trimmer would need xrays. Find a trimmer who has success in rehabbing these cases first and foremost and work with them. But there is cost involved in rehabbing and if you can’t afford it you should probably stay away. If you don’t ‘fix’ him you’ll own him for the rest of his life or it’s back to the kill pen. So you need funds for trimming, supportive therapies, veterinary xrays, and the possibility of keeping him for life. So if you can’t afford this i would advise against it. Also I can’t give you any opinion at all on his condition without seeing him, there are no links to his photos.

      • Thank you so much for your email/what you said.. it helped me feel good that, actually, I did not pick up this gelding…. someone else did while I was trying to decide…, so all is well. But you confirmed my hesitation on this particular horse.. because I would not be able to afford all of the most likely vet/farrier bills plus everything else and DO NOT want another ‘For Life’ horse, because I already have my two (plus
        an older mule). I will continue to look for a horse that needs rehabing in the way I can best afford and help (groceries, teeth care and skin care, worming,
        etc. ) I can do that (and expect to ), then retrain/test for being a child’s horse.
        Thank you so much again..OH. I really appreciated getting this email!!!
        It conifirmed my gut instinct (to hesitate and really look into this one..)
        I”m naming my one person ‘show’ here, “Children’s Horses advocate and rescue” by rescuing a potential chlld’s horse, finding it a proper home and doing it one horse at a time..
        Thank you again.!

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