BONE SPAVIN

EQUUS - - Conformation Insights -

“Bone spavin” (some­times called “jack spavin”) is a term with roots in the an­tique vet­eri­nary vocabulary, and be­cause it was dif­fi­cult to treat, its de­vel­op­ment was one of the lame­nesses that 19th cen­tury horse own­ers feared most. To­day, the term is used in a very gen­eral sense to mean any ab­nor­mal os­si­fi­ca­tion in­volv­ing the hock bones and/or the hind can­nons or splint bones, ei­ther on the back, front, or lat­eral side near the lower part of the hock joint. The lumpy ex­os­to­sis which de­vel­ops to weld the bones to­gether looks ex­actly the same as in splints or ringbone, and it de­vel­ops from a sim­i­lar cause, namely bend­ing or twist­ing forces ap­plied to the lig­a­ment fibers which bind to­gether and sta­bi­lize the small bones of the hock. As in the fore­limbs, the de­vel­op­ment of ex­os­to­sis is char­ac­ter­ized dur­ing the acute phase by swelling, heat and pain from the pro­lif­er­a­tion of small blood ves­sels.

The di­ag­no­sis of bone spavin is read­ily made from x-ray (next page), and its ap­pear­ance in the skele­ton is un­mis­tak­able. Of our four horses, Rolf shows some co-os­si­fi­ca­tion of three of the lower bones of the hock. None of the per­for­mance horses have it, and par­tic­u­larly Ethan Allen, who has been re­ported to show this le­sion, can now be con­firmed to have been en­tirely free of it.

These im­ages from an old vet­eri­nary text­book show “jack spavin.”

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