Ringbone and Sidebone issues explained

Although these two types of conditions are often referred to as one, they are actually quite different.

Let’s start with how they are similar. Both affect the horse’s foot and both are a calcification of the bones or the joint area of ​​the feet. That’s where the similarities end.

How they differ now comes into play. In most cases “Ringbone” It is a condition that can appear on the top of the hoof, in the hairline area, and is usually caused by injury, excessive concussion, and may be due to improper conformation. It can occur due to injury, excessive shock and concussion, it is a natural occurrence in older horses, and in some cases some horses have an inherent tendency for the condition.

“Sidebone” It appears in the area of ​​the quarters of the capsule of the hoof (hoof) and is the solidification of an internal part of the foot called “lateral cartilage”. This condition seems to basically come from being inherited or seen primarily in carriages or driving horses and comes from insufficient care in lowering the axles after they are unhitched. The shaft could fall off and hit the outside of the foot in the quarter area too many times and cause lateral cartilage injury over time.


“Ringbone” is the name given to the situation that appears at various points on the horse’s leg. What happens is that calcium deposits, which are sometimes called “bone deposits”, adhere to specific parts of the structure of the lower part of the horse’s leg.

Ring bone is usually caused by injury or overwork that leads to excessive wear and tear on the specific areas of the lower leg that are affected.

This situation can arise from a tension in the ligaments of the lower leg, possibly a tension or pressure in the various joints of the lower leg, other possible reasons are cuts that can be received from wire or other similar materials and even something as simple as the constant tapping of your feet against a fence or corral for an extended period of time.

Another point to consider is that of conformation defects that exert excessive stress and pressure on specific joints. Horses classified as “broad-based” put pressure on the inside edge of their legs when they stand and support their body weight. When a horse is classified as “narrow-bottomed”, stress and pressure occur on the outside of its legs when they stand up and support its weight. If there is an additional complication, as is often the case, such as being “in” or “out”, there is additional stress placed on the joints in a second and possible third area of ​​the lower leg.

Ringbone can be divided into different types and classifications; The first one that we will analyze will be called “false ringbone”. This type of ringbone is known as a false situation because the deposit of “calcium” is found on the sides and in some cases in the front of the central area of ​​the long pastern bone.

The next ringbone classification that we will look at is “high ringbone”. High annulus bone is when calcium growth occurs at the base of the long pastern bone and the top of the short pastern bone. After a period of time, these deposits will expand and continue to develop until they have included the area of ​​the joint between the two mentioned bones. Once this happens, there will be quite a bit of pain and it will eventually restrict the flexion of that particular joint.

The third type classification that we will discuss is that of ringbone which is known as “low ringbone”. This seems to be the most common of the different ringbone problems. The lower ring bone is somewhat similar to the previous type mentioned except that the area that is affected is the area of ​​the lower end of the short pastern bone and the upper area of ​​the coffin bone. This can be and is, in most cases, the most serious of all types of ringbone. This is considered the most severe due to the restrictive shape of the leg area that is affected. Unlike the other areas of the lower leg that have the availability of soft tissue to allow for the addition of the area of ​​increased mass that is created by the addition of calcium growth, this particular area is restricted by more tissue. hard from the helmet wall to restrict the allowable expansion that is allowed elsewhere in the lower leg. The extra room for calcium growth creates pressure and then pain in the affected area of ​​the foot. The accumulated calcium in this specific area appears to be on the front and sides of the bones to that degree in its progression.

Footwear for this type of problem should be made in a way that allows the foot to function more comfortably. Since we will encounter a restriction or even a loss of flexion, a mechanical method of allowing the foot to function more efficiently and properly can be achieved by creating a rolling motion action by rounding the toe and lifting the heel to allow less restriction on the part of the foot that turns on itself and less pressure and stress on the affected joint and / or the tendon or ligament.


Before we can properly define what the “lateral bone” is, we must be aware that it does not actually affect a bone; It is the condition that occurs in specific tissues within the capsule of the foot. The cartilages specifically affected are the “lateral cartilages” found within the foot just below the hoof wall structure and located between that specific structure and the coffin bone. There is a lateral cartilage located on both sides of the foot and it is about three inches long and about a quarter deep in most saddle horses. The lateral cartilages are more developed in the front legs than in the back ones. This cartilage is found just below the hairline, just above the heel area, and the length continues into the quarter-foot area.

When spinal condition occurs in a foot, it can be due to inherited conditions, such as poor conformation or injury to that specific area of ​​the foot.

The actual “spine” condition is a hardening or “calcification” of the lateral cartilages. As mentioned above, this condition can stem from poor hoof care techniques or conformation failures, but there are additional factors that can lead to this condition occurring.

The pain that is created will be quite acute due to the fact that a soft tissue limb is, in essence, turning into a bone-like structure. This is accomplished in a confined and inflexible area of ​​the foot capsule. Since the lateral cartilages are now calcifying and it is being done in a way that also enlarges the area that the lateral cartilages must occupy inside the foot as well. It would be like sticking a size four foot into a size two shoe and keep pushing that bigger foot into the shoe and never being able to stop pressing the foot into that smaller shoe until it’s done to fit.

Treatment of this condition begins with rest and the interruption of all work schedules. Next we must ensure that the foot is correctly balanced and is allowed to properly support the horse. Also, the heels of the foot should be trimmed in a way that allows for the greatest amount of frog pressure.

Proper determination of condition requires the use of radiographs (x-rays) to rule out that the condition being suffered is not a possible fracture of the wings of the coffin bone. Other possible problems that might need to be eliminated are; gravel, plant abscess, or “pedal osteitis.”

Until next time “Ride for the Brand”.

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