Can you amputate a horse's leg?
Amputation in a Horse?
Equine leg amputation can be done successfully.
Most people don't realize that a horse can survive on three legs with a prosthetic limb but Dr. Grant does. One of his first amputees was Boitron, a TB who had a hauling accident that required a hind limb to be amputated. With a prosthesis Boitron could gallop in the snow and breed just like any other stallion. With the care of their owners/caretakers a horse with a prosthetic limb can lead a very normal life.
Why do an amputation?
What are your options if your horse suffers a catastrophic injury? Unfortunately not all bone will heal whether it is due to a break, infection or lack of blood supply. Once the injured limb becomes compromised amputation should be considered.
Who is a candidate for prosthesis?
Disposition of the horse is probably the primary consideration for a prosthetic limb. Is the horse willing to use the help of the sling to relax and sleep? Or will they fight it? Does the horse lie down and get up wearing a full leg cast? Does the horse take challenges in a calm manner? Is the opposite limb sound? Horses that take care of themselves do the best. They will trust the sling to rest and relax. They will sensibly approach the situation.
The owner disposition is also important for the success of the procedure. Will the owner/caretaker be able to provide lifelong aftercare for the horse? The care includes removal of the prosthesis, on a daily or weekly basis, to replace dressings and reattach. Can the owner accept that the horse will never be ridden again but lead a full life?
Today prosthetic limbs have come a long way from the beginning when they were stiff and non moving. Over the years the technology for horses has improved with the help of doctors who specialize in human Orthotics and Prosthetics. Once the leg has healed it is ready for a well fitting artifical limb. The prosthesis can be made of carbon and have moving parts to help better simulate normal leg motion for the horse giving the ability to gallop while being turned out. Today a well fitting and useful prosthesis can easily be achieved.
If you think your horse is a prosthetic limb candidate.
A good start is to have your veterinarian contact Dr. Grant about your horse. Dr. Grant will work closely with your veterinarian to help establish the best care for your horse.
For those who would like to view a more detailed, graphic surgery amputation slideshow, Click here