What is Ringbone?

Learn how ringbone can affect your horse and see what you should be doing to help the bony overgrowth.

Ringbone is the bony overgrowth that develops on or around the pastern bones, generally fueled by an initial injury or inflammation. The overgrowth can be articular—affecting the joint—or develop on the side of a pastern bone, often where the ligaments attach. Low ringbone develops around the joint between the coffin bone and the short pastern bone, just within the top of the hoof wall, and tends to be painful. High ringbone develops around the joint between the short pastern bone and the long pastern bone. Bony growths on the outside of the pastern can be a dead giveaway for ringbone, but by the time they’re visible, it can be harder to treat. 

If only bone is affected, ringbone may be little more than a blemish that requires no special treatment. But if it affects the joints of the pastern, chronic lameness may require a savvy vet and a little extra TLC. callipso88/stock.adobe.com

Products That Help

X-rays are usually the best way to identify ringbone, and the sooner the condition is pinpointed, the more successful you’ll be at maintaining it. But with proper management, many horses can maintain careers in and out of the arena. Here are a few products that can help you manage ringbone.

Shoeing can help maximize breakover and better distribute the horse’s weight throughout the leg and hoof. Soft Rider shoes help increase blood flow to the hoof, reduce straining on the coffin bone and pressure on the navicular region, and isolate the concussive force of impact with the ground on the horse’s skeletal system. 

A variety of medications can reduce inflammation and relieve pain associated with arthritis, but the most common medications used are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Equioxx, which can be prescribed by your veterinarian. 

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shoeing maintenance
In early stages ringbone can be treated with proper shoeing to minimize the stresses placed on the joints. Have your vet and farrier work together for maximum support.

feed supplements
Supplements formulated to support joint health can help with managing ringbone. Ingredients to look for include glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, MSM, ASU, and hyaluronan.

joint injections
Hyaluronic acid and polysulfated glycosaminoglycans (PSGAGs) are commonly used for their anti-inflammatory effects and for their ability to project the cartilage.