Type of fractures horses can sustain

A horses prognosis depends on the location and type of fracture he has sustained. Here are the six types of fractures.

Bone fractures in horses are always cause for concern. But some bone injuries are worse than others. A horse’s prognosis largely depends on the type of fracture he has sustained. Here are the six types of fractures:


Typically vertical, a hairline fracture extends only partway through the bone. Generally these fractures heal well because of their natural stability.


Trauma can cause immature bone to bend. As the bone “gives,” the side of the shaft opposite the blow pulls apart, resulting in a greenstick fracture. Young and healthy bones usually recover well from these fractures.


A clean break across the bone shaft, a transverse fracture normally mends quickly when the ends are immobilized in perfect contact with each other.

Repaired fractured leg of a horse, phalanx one, with lag screws. (Getty Images)


Also known as an oblique fracture, a spiral fracture occurs when twisting forces crack the bone into two pieces at a sharp angle. Both the angle of the fracture and the jagged edges make this a challenge to stabilize and heal fully.


A blow of immense force and/or speed can cause the bone to shatter, starting at the point of impact and extending in a branching pattern. In a comminuted fracture the pieces of bone can sometimes be held in place by metal implants until they can reestablish connections. This is a challenging injury with a guarded prognosis, particularly for a return to an athletic career.


 In a compound fracture, the broken bone lacerates the skin. This is a dangerous injury because of the risk of infection.

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