Ringbone can be classified by its location, with "high ringbone" occurring on the lower part of the large pastern bone or the upper part of the small pastern bone. "Low ringbone" occurs on the lower part of the small pastern bone or the upper part of the coffin bone. High ringbone is easier seen than low ringbone, as low ringbone occurs in the hoof of the horse. However, low ringbone may be seen if it becomes serious, as it creates a bony bump on the coronet of the horse.
High ringbone: The horse will have a bony growth around the pastern area, and the pastern will have less mobility. The horse will show pain when the pastern joint is moved or rotated. Early cases will have a lameness score of 1-2 out of 5, with little or no bony swelling seen, although possibly felt when compared to the opposite pastern. Lameness will worsen to a grade 2-3 on a scale of 5 as the ringbone worsens. Low ringbone: The horse will have moderate lameness (grade 2-3), even in early cases, because of the closeness of the ringbone to the other structures in the hoof. When severe or very advanced, the bony growth will be able to be seen on the coronet.
Shoeing: The [[farrier
Treatment of Ringbone
Ringbone is degenerative (unless it is caused by direct trauma). Treatment works to slow down the progress of the bony changes and alleviate the horse's pain, rather than working to cure it.
Low ringbone: The horse will have moderate lameness (grade 2-3), even in early cases, because of the closeness of the ringbone to the other structures in the hoof. When severe or very advanced, the bony growth will be able to be seen on the coronet.
Shoeing: The [[farriershould balance the hoof and apply a shoe that supports the heels and allows for an easy breakover.
NSAIDs: or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs help to alleviate the pain and reduce inflammation within and around the joints. Often NSAIDs make the horse comfortable enough to continue ridden work, which is good for the horse's overall health.
Joint injections: The pastern joint can be injected directly, typically with a form of corticosteroid and hyaluronic acid.
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy: A high intensity specialized percussion device can help to remodel new bone tissue and decrease pain.
Arthrodesis: the fusion of the two bones of the pastern joints eliminates the instability of the joint, and thus the inflammation. This procedure may then eliminate the horse's lameness as well. However, surgical alteration of the joint can promote the growth of bone in the area, which is cosmetically displeasing. Arthrodesis of the coffin joint is usually not performed due to the location of the joint (within the hoof) and because the coffin joint needs some mobility for the horse to move correctly (unlike the pastern joint, which is very still).
Horses that are not performing strenuous work, such as jumping or working at speed, will probably be usable for years to come. However, horses competing in intense sports may not be able to continue at their previous level, as their pastern joints are constantly stressed.
King, Christine, BVSc, MACVSc, and Mansmann, Richard, VDM, PhD. 1997. "Equine Lameness." Equine Research, Inc. Pages 694-699.
Rogers, J and Waldron, T. 1995. "A Field Guide to Joint Disease in Archaeology". Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.