Q: What causes splints in horses?
A: Splints are inflammation or injury of the splint bones in the lower leg and/or the adjacent bones (such as the canon bone) and/or the associated ligaments. Splints are most commonly seen in young horses training at very high intensity levels, such as Thoroughbreds. Splints also occur from working on hard ground, conformational issues (particularly toe-ing out) or hoof imbalances. Sometimes splints are the result of direct trauma to the region. Splints can be identified by heat and/or swelling around the splint bone or cannon bone, as well as mild lameness (most visible in the trot). Treatments for splints include rest (anywhere from two weeks to six months), cold therapy (hydrotherapy, icing or cold hosing), pressure bandaging and anti-inflammatories, as prescribed by a vet. Horses with splints should be re-introduced gradually to work.