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The Delicate Legs Of Horses Essay

3916 words - 16 pages

A horse is defined as a large, four-legged animal with a flowing mane andtail of long, coarse hair. Domestic horses have always been an important part ofhuman life. Years ago, horses were a part of everyday life; they were needed fortransportation, agricultural use, and in battle. Today we have cars, tractors, andtanks, but horses have remained as a close companion to people. Horses have a verycomplex body that needs constant care. The most important structure in a horse'sbody are its legs, unfortunately the legs are very delicate and become lame easilyfrom bone fractures, joint disorders, and ringbone.In order to be able to care for a horse when it is ill one needs to know how thehorse ...view middle of the document...

Chronically uncomfortable horses may haveslight depression, appetite loss, restlessness, or have difficulty rising after restingor rolling; if the horse liked to roll he might become uninterested in it, and againthe horse may become uncooperative (Smith 64).Some horses are at higher risks of becoming lame than others (Smith 62). Ahorse riding at a level and intensity of work that is too hard for it can become lameeasily (Smith 62). Horses with bad conformation or body condition are also athigher risks (Smith 62). So are older horses, horses with a bad medical history,hard training routines, competition stress, horses with not-so-healthy hooves, andhorses that are ridden on unsafe footing (Smith 62).Horses have one of the hardest, most densely mineralized bones in allanimals (Kilby 65). Under the right conditions, bones heal better than any othertissue in the body, and repairs can be made within a few weeks (Kilby 65). Askeleton begins as cartilage and is slowly replaced by bone, a process calledossification, as the fetus develops (Kilby 66). Calcium and other mineral are takento the bone to strengthen it (Kilby 66). The long bones, such as the cannon bone,grow at the ends at an area called epiphyses, also called growth plates (Kilby 66).Here the cartilage cells divide and multiply and then go through ossification, whichcontinues until the horse is four or five years old (Kilby 66).Young bones are full of blood and are not completely mineralized, makingthem capable of rapid healing; although, mature bone can also heal quickly(Kilby 66). The older a bone gets the slower the replacement bone is made, and thefaster the old bone breaks down (Kilby 66). Bones become more brittle and porous,more vulnerable to fracture, and slower to heal as they get older (Kilby 66).Bones are always changing either size and shape, because of growth, ormaking repairs (Kilby 67). Two cells are involved in the these changes, osteoclastsand osteoblasts (Kilby 67). Osteoclasts remove existing bone where it is not neededand osteoblasts lay down cartilage which is replaced by collagen (Kilby 67). Then,mineral salts fill in the area to make the bone hard (Kilby 67). These steps apply toall bone changes from fetal development to repair of an adult bone (Kilby 67).Around twenty years ago a major fracture usually meant death for a horse(Hillenbrand 67). The repair techniques and plaster castings, of that time, rarelyleft the broken leg stable (Hillenbrand 67). The horse would have to lean heavily onits other legs, which would lead to other problems; infection was always a majorrisk (Hillenbrand 67).Today, horses with broken limbs have a brighter future (Hillenbrand 67).About ninety percent of horses with pastern or other short bone fractures recover;along with forty percent of horses with cannon or other long bone fractures(Hillenbrand 67). Small fractures, today, have less impact on a horse's performancecareer (Hillenbrand 67).New improvements have also been made in emergency...

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