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New findings revolutionise how bone fractures in horses heal and can be prevented *H&H Plus*

New insights into how bone forms, adapts and heals are revolutionising fracture prevention and repair, explains Patrick Pollock FRCVS

The ability to repair and prevent bone fractures in horses, which can come about as a result of a single trauma or as a result of ongoing microtrauma through inappropriate training, is a topic of great interest among the veternary community and horse owners alike, with exciting new insights available.

Bone is a substance that changes throughout life, in a process called remodelling. This allows the bones of foals and young horses to grow and change shape, and in adult horses enables the repair of damage and prevents bones from becoming brittle.

The amount of remodelling is affected by the horse’s age, the type of exercise he does and the surface on which he works. Research in thoroughbreds discovered that if horses undergo controlled exercise early in life, the bone “learns” to model in a way that protects it from injury in later life.

Interval training with short bursts of high-intensity exercise is more likely to result in healthy, strong bone, than low-intensity, endurance-type work. Exercise causes tiny areas of damage, leading to “stress remodelling”, where the bone adapts to the forces placed on it. This process, called an adaptive response, is critical to bone health.

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