"stopping" sidebone?

A 4 yr old WB I’m interested in buying has the very beginnings of sidebone. Vet is not sure how sidebone progresses and it’s one of those things that usually isn’t a problem, until it is… when it starts impinging on soft tissues, or a wing breaks off, I understand it makes a horse lame in a way that’s hard to come back from.

Can anyone point me to papers or articles that discuss the progression of sidebone? Can it stop progressing with correct hoof balance (if that’s the cause)?

Or is this just a “walk away” situation for an eventer?

Some threads are very breezy about it - it’s a normal thing for drafts and crosses and never really a problem. Other threads are more doom-laden…

I am having a very hard time finding a horse to buy…

It’s usually an indicator of how the foot handles concussion (or rather, doesn’t). And factors like the horse’s size will contribute to it. I’m not sure I’d worry too much if that’s the only finding.

Sidebone is very common. IME, people don’t worry much about it unless it’s huge. Incorrect foot balance can be a cause. So, use your balance films and your farrier to make sure the horse is set up properly.

If you were dead set on doing something else about it, maybe talk to a really good farrier about the pros and cons of shoeing for collateral ligament stability? There are special shoeing techniques for that and they may be able to say if it would help or hurt this horse.


My first reaction is that your vet SHOULD know how sidebone progresses. If he doesn’t, he should know how to find out, much more reliably than random COTHers.


Yeah you’d think, right Janet? I was a bit confused about that then I did a load of searching and there are no scholarly articles about how this ossification progresses that I could find. He is though, to be fair, calling some of his friends at the big teaching hospital.

How is his hoof balance? Poor hoof balance can be a big contributor as well as the type of work the horse is in, such as gaming etc. quick stops, sharp turns at high speed…

If he is sound, you like him and he doesn’t have poor conformation that would contribute to it, I would consider him and just make sure he always get the best hoof management.

Do you have any pictures? :slight_smile:

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I have rads and one shot of the feet from the front not taken at a low enough angle to show the medial-lateral balance. (Note to self: get more) Conformation looks pretty good in front, I have to say, so my concern is concussion having caused this.

My Dutchwarmblood has it. In my case, the horse has good confirmation, correctly balanced hoofs, not backed until he was 4, and never ridden on hard surfaces. My well-respected vets told me that it’s genetic and they see it in many warmbloods because of their cold blooded ancestors. Sidebone is very common in the draft breeds. He’s 15 has had it since he was 4 and has never been lame. My vets said they would use osphos to help control the sidebone growth if it became necessary. Every horse is different on how sidebone affects their soundness.

I have a 16 year old mare who I have owned since she was a weanling. She has been ridden regularly since she was 4 and her feet have always been done on time and correctly. While ridden5-6 days a week it has never been hard riding or hard footing. Just pasture and trails.

Except for a period of LTLH issues while I found a new farrier , she was sound 100% of the time except for an abscess.

After the abscess we had several years of very mild off/on lameness. She would be off on the left front for a few weeks at the trot only and then it would resolve and she would be sound again for 18 months and it would happen again.

I thought the abscess was reoccurring. This past Decshe was running in pasture with the others and suddenly pulled up and was non weight bearing on that leg. I had the vet out right then , he x rayed and she has sidebone( what was causing her pain) as well as ringbone( non joint and not painful for her at all) .

His words to me were that this was the beginning of the end for her, basically. With shoes , pads and impression material between for cushioning, she is doing a lot better and I hope to do light riding come Spring if she is able. He talked of injections which I will pursue if she needs it. One of his horses has it too.

So all that to say I would be leery and not purchase a horse known to have the beginnings of it. I know things can go differently in each case but with my horse all it took was a good gallop in the field to change it all. A month later and it still bothers her, especially with the weather changes and it gets cold. mid 20’s and up she is much better.

Just to give you another perspective.

I’m really interested in xrays of painful sidebone but non-painful ringbone, even if the ringbone is non-articular.

How did he determine it’s the sidebone that’s causing the pain? That’s rarely a painful situation, unless it’s a bit out of control


Both the ringbone and side bone are on the outside part of her left foot. Sidebone is on the outside of her left pastern (and where she hurts upon touch). Ringbone is above the ankle and she has no reaction at all.

All I can say is she did a number on it and no doubt about where her pain is. I saw the X-rays but I don’t have them but you could see the places where they both were easily. I am guessing it is severe in her case?

I think he said it was pressing or causing nerve pain? I can’t remember I was in shock.

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Ringbone is never above the ankle. I’m confused?

Edited to add: Was she blocked in any way?

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Id be surprised if sidebone was causing the pain… as far as I know it very rarely is.
I believe its also genetic in many cases. My GRP mare has a HUGE sidebone as do several others I know from the same sire. None have soundness issues.
I have rads somewhere I’ll see if I can find them.


That’s very interesting. Thank you for sharing

I do know one horse who had pain from sidebone. They were able to block it out. It was impinging on a nerve. I can’t recall the treatment but I think steroid injections are controlling the inflammation for now and they haven’t had to do anything more invasive.

All I know is you could see on the X-rays clearly that there was extra stuff on the outside of her pastern and just above the fetlock. Maybe I mixed it up as I have no experience with lameness issues ( i have been extremely lucky until now). He said her joint was not affected.

No need to block her because there is no doubt when he did the lameness exam and went over the whole leg, it was clear that her pastern was where it hurt and she had no reaction anywhere else.

She will rest that front leg by keeping the foot slightly forward at times , but she walks sound and stands squarely on it most of the time.

He said it was the sidebone causing her pain and I have faith in his ability as I have used him since 1998.

@IPEsq he definitely said it was causing nerve pain because of where it was. How often do they have to inject? Do you know?

Sorry to butt into your thread @Xanthoria. I will stop now.

No it’s ok! Nobody has answered the question I asked yet so you might as well join in! :rofl:

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@candyappy sorry I don’t know. I think it’s been over a year now since they figured it out and I don’t know if they have had to repeat the injections. Horse moved to a different barn.

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Most people mean fetlock when they say ankle.

Most people also use “pastern” to mean the long bone between the hoof and the fetlock - it’s the bone at the very top of this xray

Technically, there are 3 pastern bones - 1, 2, and 3.

Bottom to top, the coffin bone is P3, the short pastern bone is P2 and the long pastern bone is P1

P1 is the externally visible pastern that everyone calls the pastern.

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