As equestrian’s, our minds have been deeply imbedded to always look at our horses’ legs, to run our hands over them, to look for heat, inflammation, to feel for those unusual lumps and bumps. As one of the most frequent injuries seen by equine clinicians, those lumps and bumps found along the horse’s cannon and splint bones are most likely to be a splint.  The expression splint is largely used to describe a condition known as interosseous desmitis, however there are various factors that can cause splints.

Inter referring to Between

Osseous referring to Bone

Desmitis referring to the inflammation of ligament tissue

Keeping your horses’ legs healthy is essential, as the limbs are structured in such a fashion that they act as an extremely extravagant shock-absorbing system.  A majority of the animal’s weight load is placed on the front legs, which is an estimated 60-65%, with the remaining on the hind legs. The horse’s front legs are not connected to the main portion of the horse’s skeletal system, mainly held in position by a girdle of muscles, which can be described like a sling. Splints are more likely to occur when the horse’s weight-bearing structure is strained and under duress or can be the result of conformational faults. Causations of splints can be from several conditions and activities, such as a poor diet, trauma, excessive workloads and poor confirmation. Splints are repeatedly seen in young horses due the elasticity of the small interosseous ligament, which later fuses the splint bone to the cannon bone.