HomeFAQsIs a horse’s leg bone bigger than a human leg bone? If so, when a horse’s bone breaks why is it so much harder to heal?

Is a horse’s leg bone bigger than a human leg bone? If so, when a horse’s bone breaks why is it so much harder to heal?

Yes, most bones in a horse’s leg are larger than a human’s. But size is actually a disadvantage when it comes to fixing a broken bone.¬†Broken bones of young and small horses heal quite well. Big horses, however, weigh at least 1,000 pounds, so each leg carries about 250 pounds. When a leg breaks with 250 pounds bearing down on it, the bone typically breaks into many pieces. A bone that is broken into many pieces may poke through the skin, leading to infection of the bone. In addition, it is difficult to put the bone pieces back together with enough strength to withstand 250 pounds again, and small pieces of broken bone can lose their blood supply and die, again causing infection.

However, it is not impossible to fix broken leg bones in large horses and we certainly to not shoot any horse with a broken leg like in the old days. Just like those used in people, there are stainless steel plates, screws, large pins, or casts that can be used to put broken bones back together. Most horses with broken leg bones are not Humpty Dumpty and can be saved.

Scientist

Lisa Fortier

  • Assistant Professor
  • Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University

Education:
Vet School: Colorado State University, Ph.D. Cornell University
Research Area:
Arthritis
Family:
Husband Alan Nixon (also a vet), girls Bridgette 4 yrs, Nicole 1yr
Interests:
Running, riding horses, playing with my girls

Question From

Helen Giles and Mary Marisa
Grade:
5
School:
Immaculate Conception School
Hometown:
Ithaca
State:
NY
Teacher:
Mrs. Bacon
Interests:
Horses, science, and gymnastics
Future Career:
Jockey, gymnast or horse trainer

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