They always stood out from other animals for their dazzling speed and unmatched strength and physical capacity. There is a reason the phrase ‘healthy as a horse’ is used to denote prime fitness of a person.
Horses have been used in combat, in the transportation of men and goods, and in activities that require immense physical labor (which is why a car’s engine strength is measured in ‘horsepower’). A horse with a broken leg (especially if the break is of the ‘wrong’ kind) is usually ‘put down’ or euthanized.
The bones in a horse’s lower leg (the spot where most injuries occur) generate huge amounts of power, but are also quite light. A horse’s lower leg contains a lot of strong but light bones.
Thus, if the lower leg of a horse breaks, the bones in it doesn’t just fracture… they often shatter completely. Even if they are somehow put back together, the horse would inevitably wind up with a badly fixed bone.
Therefore, a broken lower leg is bad news for a horse’s blood circulation too! Horses are very resistant to standing still; they like to keep themselves busy by moving around almost all the time.
Although it’s crucial that a broken leg get some rest so that the bones heal properly, horse owners know that they’re going to have a hard time trying to immobilize their horse for days or weeks to come. Moreover, with such a heavy body, a horse develops pressure sores if it lies down for too long, so that’s another problem to deal with.
Therefore, unless it’s a very, very special and expensive horse, people tend to refrain from spending a lot on treating a horse’s leg, whose chances of complete recovery are pretty slim even with treatment. In order to spare the horse from too much pain and agitation, it is generally ‘put down’ or euthanized by its owners.
What is Quantum Entanglement: Explained in Simple Words Can We Harness Electricity From Lightning? Horses must be in good overall health, be able to adapt to new situations and have an owner that's willing to spend his or her time and money on follow-up prosthesis treatments .
Weight : Most horses are heavy animals and their legs and hooves are small in comparison. Slings that wrap under the abdomen and hold the horse up (taking the weight off the legs) are commonly used for short periods of time, but can't prevent laminates.
If a sling is used for too long, the healed leg can't bear the horse's weight properly and laminates could still develop. Movement : Horses are animals that like to move and there's a big risk they might reinsure themselves at some point during the healing process.
A horse with a more relaxed disposition, that doesn't mind having its movement restricted, usually has a better chance of properly healing. Because horses don't have muscles below their hock joints (similar to the human ankle), there aren't many blood vessels to carry antibodies to the site of infection, thus making it difficult to treat.
The severity of pain from common post-operative complications, such as laminates, lies at the root of a decision to euthanize. Cost : The long and complicated process of bringing a horse back to good health can be expensive, and there's no guarantee it'll work.
Besides being cost-prohibitive, rehabilitation can be hindered by an absence of available facilities that can treat severely injured horses and a general lack of knowledge. Their hooves play a role in circulation, complicating effects of leg injuries.
Breakdowns often follow what jockeys call a “bad step.” When it happens at full speed, the resulting disruption of stride and shifting of weight often causes additional damage. It usually boils down to economics, according to PPP, with the owner unwilling to bear the expense of surgery and continued cost of boarding.
PPP, in fact, founded an organization that cares for and finds new homes for horses that can no longer race. Bus some, including the influential Jockey Club, say the thoroughbred industry should contribute more toward “after care” of horses.
A dramatic but ultimately unsuccessful effort to save a horse involved Barbara, which won the Kentucky Derby in 2006. Two weeks later, on national television, Barbara broke three bones in his hind legs.
Eight Belles was euthanized after breaking both front ankles following a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. The industry has long dreaded another death during a marquee event such as this weekend’s Kentucky Derby.
Given the uproar over the Santa Anita deaths, that fear is surely stronger, and the stakes likely greater. Maybe it would be a final nail in the coffin of a sport that has long been in decline due to assorted factors, including greater public concern for the well-being of animals.
“The horse racing industry has always relied on the public forgetting about it after a while,” says Kathy Guillermo, a senior vice president for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. It wasn't that long ago that if a horse broke a leg, euthanasia was the only course of action.
While euthanasia is often still the only option, advances in veterinary technologies and techniques mean some horses can be saved, and may even be able to return to their work in some capacity. If a human breaks a leg, the worst-case scenario is surgery to place pins to hold the bones, a cast and weeks or months of allowing the bone to heal followed by physiotherapy.
We also know that we must stay off of the injured leg so that the fracture mends properly without stressing or damaging the healing bone. Unlike humans, horses have heavy bodies and light leg bones.
While humans have some large muscles and a bit of tissue below the knee that helps stabilize a broken bone, along with a cast, a horse has no muscle or any other tissue besides tendons and ligaments below the knee. The lack of muscle and other tissue means, even with a cast, the broken bone has little to support it.
And, it's much harder to prevent a horse from using its broken leg to bear weight. Horses put a huge amount of stress on their legs, especially when galloping and jumping.
Over half of the horse's weight is borne on the front legs, so those bones and joints, in particular, take a lot of abuse. Simple fractures, where there is one clean break, are more likely to heal successfully than shattered bones.
Related Topics There are a number of reasons why owners choose to euthanize horses who suffer severe injuries to their legs. Primarily, it's a quality of life issue for the injured horse, since a broken leg can take months to heal even under the best of circumstances.
Besides this, breaks are often prone to a number of complications, including a loss of circulation in the leg, sores from immobilizing slings, and inflammation. Even if a horse can be tranquilized while the leg heals, it cannot survive the weeks or months of relative immobility.
A horse feeling trapped in a cramped stall tends to tap dance, which can easily aggravate the original break. Additionally, the legs must carry most of the horse's weight, which makes it easy for them to re-break a bone while it's healing.
If the horse is suspended from a sling for an extended period, the leg muscles soon begin to atrophy and weaken. A horse suffering from multiple fractures must use a brace to allow the broken leg to continue to bear weight.
If surgical plates or braces are implanted around the affected bones, there is always the risk that the skin may not heal properly. The idea of euthanizing a horse because of a broken leg may seem disturbing to some, but the decision is usually reached only after an extensive examination and conference with a qualified veterinarian.
The Most Beautiful Women Forecasting the Weather Amazing Optical Illusions That Will Play Tricks on Your Mind 40 Wedding Picture Fails You Don't Want to Miss 17 Interesting Maps That Will Change Your Worldview Outsider Rule the World stole the headlines with a stunning win in this year's Grand National, but the meeting at Ain tree was overshadowed by the deaths of five more entrants.
Two of this year's casualties, Gullinbursti and Mirella Reception, suffered neck injuries and were put down while the other three, Montanan Lad, Marasonnien and Kings Palace, died after being pulled up. Racehorses have been selectively bred for centuries and are designed for speed, vet Jenny Hall tells The Guardian.
To make matters worse, at the moment before the bone snaps it bends, resulting in 'plastic deformation'. The horse's lower limbs have little soft tissue and that means that bones often pierce the skin when broken.
Not only does that make the wound much harder to treat, it also affects the already limited blood supply to the lower leg, thereby compromising its ability to heal. The complex system of joints, bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, lubricant, laminate and hooves that contribute to a horse's amazing speed can also be the cause of its downfall,” explains website How Stuff Works.
They can step on themselves, get excited and try to move around, or simply get bored with being in a stall and try to get out,” says the Ultimate Horse Site. Slings can take the weight off the feet but can cause sores and also end up compressing a horse's internal organs.
Knocking a horse out so it is lying down can have the same effect and allows fluid to accumulate on the lungs causing pneumonia. Sheer weight If a dog, for example, breaks a leg it can support itself on its remaining three feet, not so a horse.
A quick diagnosis What often shocks racegoers and the public is the speed with which the decision to euthanize a horse is taken. But vet Jenny Hall tells the Guardian that there are trained medics by the racetrack who get there fast and the decision is often an easy one to take.
Long bone fractures typically occur with a misstep or trauma due to impact from a kick, collision, or fall. A horse that sprints too fast across a broken field or plays exuberantly on a long line may shatter a pastern.
With continued exercise, or even as a horse gets up or lies down, a small crack could turn into a full-blown fracture. Field radiographs (x-rays) are taken to identify the degree and extent of the fracture to determine if surgical repair is possible.
Your veterinarian might put hands on gently to determine the degree of instability of the injury by feeling for credits (grating) from bone fragments moving around. Hairline fractures may not show up on radiographic exam for a few weeks until some bone mineral resorts around the crack.
A nuclear bone scan (scenography) may help to diagnose a thin crack. Before the horse is moved, the leg needs to be padded and splinted to prevent any movement around the fractured area.
Treatment for fractures can vary, and of course will be determined by the owner’s budget, the intended use for the horse, and other factors. While a broken leg of a horse may have been impossible to treat a long time ago, treatment options have progressed significantly.
Any attempt to walk a horse, or to load him onto a trailer for hauling to a referral center, could adversely affect the outcome if the leg isn’t stabilized. With caution, you may be able to place a protective bandage over an area showing skin penetration by bone.
Nothing undermines horse racer than the fact that its heroes may suffer a fatal injury at any moment. It doesn't even need a hurdle or a steeplechase fence; one false step, one misplaced hoof may be all it takes for a bone to break in such a way that the horse cannot be saved.
Then one day at Haddock, while galloping on flat turf between fences, he suddenly shattered a fetlock joint in one of his hind legs. But, although exertion and the possibility of falls increase the risk, the main reason for these thoroughly upsetting moments is that horses often cannot recover from injuries that would pose no threat to humans.
It can happen when they take part in any kind of sport or leisure activity, or even while they are messing around on their own in a field. However much they are loved and however much money their owner is happy to spend on them, there is no way back from the wrong kind of break.
Neither Barbara, the hugely popular Kentucky Derby winner, nor Rewinding, who pipped So You Think in a thriller at Royal Ascot this summer, survived their broken legs. In search of explanations, I pitched my naive questions to two well-respected vets at the British Horse racing Authority.
Professor Tim Morris is their director of equine science and welfare while Jenny Hall is a vet based in Labor who will be veterinary services' manager at the Olympics next year. Another issue is what Hall called “plastic deformation”, meaning that the bone bends before it breaks and it is the bent shape that is preserved in the pieces.
Even if it were possible to put the pieces back together, you would end up with a madly bent bone. Hall continued: “When you look at their lower limbs, which is where a high incidence of these injuries are, there's very little soft tissue covering the bone.
“If there was a fracture there, there's all the tendons, the nerves and the blood vessels that a sharp edge of bone could cut. Even if there were a remote possibility that the bone might heal, it may not be a good idea to wait and see, because of the complication of laminates.
The problem is … you're within a hard outer box , so get inflamed, which is incredibly painful.” Morris says that laminates can be treated with painkillers, along with other drugs to deal with “the failure of the bloody supply, because there's so much inflammation ...
But the problem is, you can get a vicious circle of more pain, more inflammation, building on itself very, very quickly in a severe case.” • A horse should not have to endure continuous or unmanageable pain from a condition that is chronic and incurable.
• A horse should not have to endure a medical or surgical condition that has a hopeless chance of survival. • A horse should not have to remain alive if it has an unmanageable medical condition that renders it a hazard to itself or its handlers.
• A horse should not have to receive continuous analgesic medication for the relief of pain for the rest of its life. • A horse should not have to endure a lifetime of continuous individual box stall confinement for prevention or relief of unmanageable pain or suffering.
“They get pressure sores if they're lying down all the time, things that are difficult to manage in people, let alone in a 500 kg horse,” says Hall. Morris: “You've probably heard quite often, particularly with elderly people going into hospital for a hip-bone fracture which keeps them in there, and then they get secondary pneumonia because they're lying down.
When you're lying in your wrong position, the fluids that accumulate in the lung don't get cleared so well and that's the point of infection.” Surely, I suggest, you could support the horse in a sling, sparing it the risk of laminates while its leg heals.
Hall: “Because of the way the emergency services are deployed on the racecourse, the first opinion, the first veterinary surgeon to attend the horse, will be there very quickly because he will have been following the race . “His colleague, because there are always multiple veterinarians on duty to cover a race meeting, paid for by the racecourses, will be there very quickly.
make a proper, informed decision as to what exactly the injury is and how realistic it is for the horse's long-term future and welfare, whether repair is a good option.” In contrast to the fear behind my question, that critical decisions are being made very quickly, Hall and Morris cited a recent case at Sundown where some of those in the crowd apparently expressed concern that it took a long time for the vet to put a horse down after it had broken a limb in front of the stands.
In fact, they pointed out, the vet had given the horse a painkilling injection as soon as he arrived on the scene, as is standard practice. The horse was in no pain and there was time to make a thorough examination and reach an unhurried decision.
Morris refers to a graph on the BHA's website that shows the number of equine fatalities each year, expressed as a percentage of total runners. There are ups and downs but the graph shows a gradual downward trend over the past 15 years.
Better anesthetics, better pain relief, better technology to hoist horses, stronger implants, better understanding of bone biology and how it heals, better diagnosis. That's about a million runners over 10 years, so that's big enough to do stats, and we're looking at our entire racing database to see what causes and associations are.
Two jockeys were injured and taken away from Churchill Downs by ambulance after a scary collision during the third race of the Kentucky Derby day slate. A third jockey who was dismounted in the incident, James Graham, broke his leg so severely that trainers were forced to perform emergency medical procedures on location and accidentally injected him with a lethal dose of the drug barbiturates, a drug that is commonly used to euthanize horses.
“I really had no idea what to do,” said horse trainer Joseph Goldsmith, “I was forced into a situation that I was not properly trained to handle and I made a mistake that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. “This is the type of thing that happens when you let horse trainers make perform medical procedures on humans,” said Bruce Moore, a lifelong animal right activist who watched the entire scene unfold.