Splints are most likely to occur in young horses, but older animals aren’t immune.
If your horse develops a splint, act immediately.
Don’t delay, because by quickly reducing the inflammation and resulting bony reaction, you will minimise the risk of developing a long-term cosmetic blemish and any performance limiting impact on your horse.
When a horse first ‘throws a splint,’ it can be really painful, hot and swollen. The size of a splint bump can vary a great deal, it depends on the degree of inflammation and the surface area involved. Some horses may show signs of lameness, especially on hard ground or when trotting.
The initial bump that you see on the leg will change as nature takes its course in trying to protect and heal the area. As the acute inflammation settles and healing proceeds, new bone is laid down in the area, eventually forming a hard, non-painful lump, the size of which depends on the degree of original damage.
In most acute cases rest and anti-inflammatory therapy are the main forms of treatment.
The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ‘Bute’ is usually prescribed by your Vet during the acute phase, but there are other things that you can do alongside the conventional treatment.
If the area is hot, apply cold therapy for about 30 minutes twice a day for the first five to seven days during the acute inflammation stage.
How long do splints take to heal in horses?
The most important part of treating splints is rest and reducing inflammation. Ideally, your horse should be confined to a generously sized stable or a small paddock until the inflammation has quietened down. This can take anywhere from two weeks to two months. After all inflammation has subsided, the horse can gradually return to work.