Yes, most bones in a horse’s leg are larger than a human’s. But size is actually a disadvantage when it comes to fixing a broken bone. Broken bones of young and small horses heal quite well. Big horses, however, weigh at least 1,000 pounds, so each leg carries about 250 pounds. When a leg breaks with 250 pounds bearing down on it, the bone typically breaks into many pieces. A bone that is broken into many pieces may poke through the skin, leading to infection of the bone. In addition, it is difficult to put the bone pieces back together with enough strength to withstand 250 pounds again, and small pieces of broken bone can lose their blood supply and die, again causing infection.
However, it is not impossible to fix broken leg bones in large horses and we certainly to not shoot any horse with a broken leg like in the old days. Just like those used in people, there are stainless steel plates, screws, large pins, or casts that can be used to put broken bones back together. Most horses with broken leg bones are not Humpty Dumpty and can be saved.
Vet School: Colorado State University, Ph.D. Cornell University
Husband Alan Nixon (also a vet), girls Bridgette 4 yrs, Nicole 1yr
Running, riding horses, playing with my girls
Helen Giles and Mary Marisa
Immaculate Conception School
Horses, science, and gymnastics
Jockey, gymnast or horse trainer