Field Survey on Fetlock Problems in Young Horses

K Morgan, A Kanstrup and M Rundgren
June 2014
Equine Veterinary Journal


Problems in the musculoskeletal system are the most common reason for impaired function and culling in insured riding horses in Sweden. Impaired function of the fetlock, e.g. arthritis, is a believed to be a multi-factorial problem. The aim of the pilot study was to find factors associated with problems in the fetlock.


This study focused on horses 5–7 years with fetlock problems. A questionnaire on training and management (feeding, housing, shoeing) was sent to 200 horse-owners with insurance policies on their horses; 100 had claimed insurance compensation for problems in the fetlock (I-horses) and 100 owners had healthy horses that served as controls (C-horses). The results of the proportions in each group were compared with a Chi-squared test. The response rate was 42%.


The results showed significant differences for training-related factors but not for management-related factors. The healthy C-horses were ridden for a longer period of time at each occasion (58.5 minutes per day) compared to I-horses (51.3 minutes per day) (P = 0.043). The C-horses jumped once a week and the I-horses 0.5 times per week (P = 0.0075). There was a tendency for shorter period of training free weeks to be beneficial (C-horses 4.0 weeks, I-horses 5.5 weeks per year; P = 0.083). A larger proportion of the I-horses participated in the Swedish Riding Horse Quality Test for four-year old horses (P = 0.043).


The results indicated that training-related factors were associated with whether a horse remained healthy or not. Further studies on training and educational systems of young horses are needed to prevent impaired function.