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Recommendations for Ringbone Pain

May 6, 2013

There are several treatments that can help a horse with ringbone.

Ask an ExpertQuestion:

Would nerving a horse with ringbone be an option to help with pain? If so, would the horse be safe to use? I mainly trail ride, and we travel along steep up-and-down hills. The horse is 22 years old and in otherwise good health.

For the answer, we consulted Dr. Karen Blake of Elite Veterinary Services.


I would not recommend nerving a horse with ringbone (either low or high) especially at this horse’s age and for using on trail rides. Once a horse is nerved, he

cannot feel his foot. So when he is going

on uneven terrain or up/downhill, it is difficult to assess where/how his foot should land.

The recommendations I would suggest (obviously not seeing the extent that the horse is lame can alter these suggestions) are either:

  1. Talk to your farrier about using shoes that greatly decrease the stress on the joint by bringing the breakover point back as far as possible (the best of which, in my opinion, are called rail shoes).
  2. Talk to your veterinarian about administering an intra-articular anti-inflammatory medication (ie: steroid or hyaluronic acid) into the joint.
  3. Give a systemic anti-inflammatory before the trail ride, as prescribed by

    your veterinarian. Unfortunately, the only permanent solution to ringbone is surgical intervention and fusing of the joint.

— Dr. Karen Blake, Elite Veterinary Services, member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners

*AQHA and the provider of this information are not liable for the inherent risks of equine activities. We always recommend consulting a qualified veterinarian and/or an AQHA Professional Horseman.