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artificial horse leg

Increase horses lives.
(+4, -4)
  [vote for,

We should have artificial horse legs so that horses don't need to be shot, resulting to longer lives for injured horses. It would be like an artificial human leg but bigger. It would be costly, but nessesary.
Ninjitsu_Master, Jun 09 2001

Another use for slings http://members.scre...henfathauer/Gem.htm
[phoenix, Jun 09 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Horse ambulance http://www.horserescu.com/news1.htm
[phoenix, Jun 09 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Yet even more about horse slings http://www.cdfa.ca....grams/slingFAQ.html
[phoenix, Jun 09 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Masters of Foxhounds Association of America http://www.mfha.com
Because, yes, we Americans do hunt foxes as well as coyotes on horseback while following the hounds. Please read the Hunting Code before complaining or trying to flame hunters. Thank you. [Susen, Jun 09 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Artificial horse leg http://www.equinepr...s.com/services.html
Baked [reensure, May 30 2002]

Artificial horse leg. http://www.itv.com/...G+-+News+Story+East
Nice photo [reensure, May 30 2002]


       Wonderful, humane idea. I myself have often wondered why horses are shot upon the loss of a leg, since from a physical standpoint they only need three to stand. But your idea, if implemented cheaply and marketed well (for example through animal protection charities), will doubtlessly stop some horse owners from shooting their injured horses. Even race horses. Down the line, I see a Special Derby.
Dr Furtz, Jun 09 2001

       I think they stopped shooting horses a hundred years ago...it's easy enough to put a cast on them now.
StarChaser, Jun 09 2001

       i'm not so sure about that. i was watching a horse race on tv last year and one of the horses broke its leg on the back stretch. the announcer sadly announced that they were going to bring out the "blue tarp", basically a big tent so the crowd wouldn't have to watch as they euthanised the poor thing...very sad.
mihali, Jun 09 2001

       OK. I'll answer this. First, we don't shoot horses unless we happen to be in the middle of a National forest and the horse is seriously injured and it will take too long to get a vet there. This is why we do carry guns on long trail rides or when foxhunting. But, I also carry heavy sedation medicine for the animal in case there is any chance of saving it. What we use for euthanasia is a chemical combination of anesthetics and drugs that stop the heart. We "affectionately" call it "pink juice".
Many broken bones that meant death for the horse 20 years ago can now be repaired. Injuries that are too severe to be repaired are difficult fractures such as two breaks in one leg or more that one broken leg. Compound fractures are just about impossible to work on due to the amount of infections that occur.
Keep in mind that horses are big 1200 lbs. creatures that do NOT reason and can not understand why and what is happening. They are also animals of movement and motion.
Getting a fracture to heal is a long and difficult process with horses because of their size and the need for them to remain still. As much as I would like it to be different, euthanasia is still the most humane scenario when dealing with severe leg injuries.
Susen, Jun 09 2001

       I was under the impression that racehorses were put down because once they were broken, they'd be forevermore useless and nobody wanted a useless racehorse.   

       Evidently, I was wrong, although glad to be so. Although on Animal Planet <A cable channel> one of the shows showed several times a horse being put in a cast...
StarChaser, Jun 09 2001

       I imagine that for the reasons Susen mentions an artificial leg would be pretty hard to engineer. It would have to support so much weight and endure such terrific stresses when the animal shies or rears that even if the prosthetic itself did not fail the attachment to the horse's stump probably would. Horses do vary in their ability to control their behavior, I think--some don't shy or rear unless grossly provoked, whilst others go bonkers if a sparrow flies up.
Dog Ed, Jun 09 2001

       Yeah, I think it'd be easier to put a cast on than to try and get a horse to run with <essentially> a broomstick duct-taped to it's leg...
StarChaser, Jun 09 2001

       Oh, and now that I'm a little more awake than when I read this the first time (long night...ouch), I must comment that horses need both front legs to stand (sorry, Dr Furtz) and all four legs to move. Horses do not distribute their weight evenly over all four legs. Instead, the front legs bear the greater portion of the load. Unfortunately, most fractures in Thoroughbred race horses involve the front leg(s) which leads to the greater number of them suffering damage for which there is no treatment.
Susen, Jun 09 2001

       1875, Virgin Jake lives out in the boonies of Texas, he and his new Virgin bride are out at Slippery Rock - to consummate their marriage where the ride is smooth and the sounds of nature surround them under the stars. A couple of days later Joe asks Jake if he enjoyed losing his virginity while he's also wondering where Jakes Bride is. Jake tells Joe she broke her leg, so he had to shoot her and he's still a virgin. :-(
thumbwax, Jun 09 2001

       Hi, UB. My head hurts...but at least I'm not in jail. I'm also way too old to ever do *that* again.   

       Let's see, artificial joints/limbs for horses have been "baked" with very little success. I think it was Spanish Riddle that had the first artificial limb (ankle?) and he was given that chance because he was a stud. The biomechanics of horse movement as well as the weight that such limbs must bear makes for a very difficult situation. Also, horses are not the best patients as they lack patience (yeah, my head hurts). Horses don't cope with months of stall rest very well. To answer Mephista, it's just not practical due to the cost involved. Valuable horses with such injuries are insured for "loss of use" and less valuable creatures are, sadly, disposable. You also must take into account the "quality of life". Horses are creatures that generally develop sullen dispositions when confined. I believe the few instances of artificial limbs in horses did require that the horse be confined in small quarters and never allowed to get up any speed beyond a few trot steps. I personally owned a stallion named Single Time who had his front ankle shattered in a freak accident. After months of stall rest, it healed, set in an unbelievable manner. He was completely lame....walking and troting with difficulty. However, because it was a front ankle, we could still use him for breeding. What was amazing was that in 2-4 feet of snow, he could gallop across his paddock looking completely sound. Unfortunately we lost him due to a perforated ulcer most probably a direct result of all the Phenylbutazone he had been on during his recovery.
Susen, Jun 09 2001

       Thumbwax, I don't get that....but, maybe my brains are fried more than I thought they were.
Susen, Jun 09 2001

       I remember a story about some folks coming up with a sling which would support a (whole) horse while it's leg was in a cast. I don't recall it allowing the animal to be ambulatory while healing.   

       Just did a quick search. See links above.
phoenix, Jun 10 2001

       Jake shot his wife because his own wisdom automatically said to shoot her if she had a broken leg, just like a horse.
thumbwax, Jun 10 2001

       A friend of mine is currently doctoring her horse which is suffering the lingering effects of a (nail?) puncture wound to the joint capsule with a hairline fracture at the point of nail impact. The diagnostician missed the wound twice on X-ray and once on a scan. They were ready to put her down because of the sheer misery the animal was in after all the tests and before anyone knew what the problem was. Happy report, the horse is alive and improving after two months but still carries a non-union with the potential for disastrous complications. So true, Susen, these guys are temperamental beyond normal human understanding.
reensure, Jun 10 2001

       Listen, believe me, I understand that everyone wants to save horses. Trust me, millions are being spent every year to come up with solutions. However, horse size and weight are still huge (no pun intended) problems to overcome. Slings are good for some things...but can NOT be used long term as the horse develops circulatory system problems, sores, and other such complications.   

       Broken bones in horses are very complicated problems. Usually, in addition to the broken bone needing repaired....and time and calmness needed for that to happen.....there are other complications. Horses are prone to necrosis (death of the bone), sequestra (dead bone fragments) and osteomyelitis (inflamation of the bone marrow). Prognosis, even for some simple fractures, is still very poor. Horses just don't mend well.....and they are horrible and unpredictable patients.
Susen, Jun 10 2001

       Wild horses don't mend better than their more domestic cousins but they are more durable (personal theory called "survival of the most durable"....Uncle Charles would be most proud of me for this). Wild horses that do suffer severe injuries don't heal from them....they do become dinner for the "local carnivores" as UB says. Wild (by "wild" I mean horses which are not the product of planned matings and result in pedigreed stock) horses also tend to have conformation "faults" that we do not see in "domesticated, planned breedings" b/c their faults are a result of their adaptation to their environment.   

       Mephista, you are opening another can of worms (not that I am complaining b/c I open this can all the time). I have researched this, lectured on it, stood on my soap box for hours preaching to everyone that would listen.....   

       I will speak as to the lack of durability in domesticated horses. Specifically, I am speaking about the Thoroughbred breed, but the same general issues occur in all pure breeds. The Thoroughbreds are suffering from selective breeding and the lack of outcrossing to produce hybrid vigor and add durability back into the breed. For more than a century, the practice of selective breeding clearly improved the TB. This is no longer the case. The Kentucky Derby winners at the turn of the century averaged 53 lifetime starts. By the 40s, this had dropped to 33 and by the 80s the average was 21. Just from 1975 to 1995, the average race horse in America went from making 10.2 starts a year to 7.7. Meanwhile, many prominent world records have stood unbroken for the past 20 to 30 years. Apparently, the breed is no longer getting faster, simply more fragile.   

       Studies of the skeletal remains of early TBs indicate that they had a bone density 50% greater than the TBs of today. Also, in today's world, respiratory bleeding has become epidemic, requiring the regular use of the drug Lasix. The majority of TBs also need constant farrier attention as their hooves are shelly and lack a good hoof wall.   

       What is going on? Well, the TB comes from a much smaller gene pool than is commonly believed. Although there are now over 1 mill. TBs in this country alone, all the TBs on the planet descend from a small population of about 3 dozen ancestors from the 17th century. This problem came about when the British Stud Book was officially closed in 1827 to all horses except those which were descendants of three foundation stallions: Matchem, Herod, and Eclipse.   

       Such a strictly limited gene pool has inevitable limits as to how far it can evolve and improve. Furthermore, in time some negative traits will become fixed in the breed along with the more desirable traits as is being seen in the number of horses with respiratory bleeding, poor hoof quality, proneness to injury, reproductive problems, etc. When this happens, the most practical solution is to introduce some new bloodlines and create hybrid vigor. But, b/c all TBs are rather closely related, and because the studbook is closed, no true out crossing is currently possible. Although there is relatively little inbreeding within the first four generations of most of today's TBs, the cumulative effect of generations of inbreeding to a small population of ancestors has now created a breed with the average inbreeding co-efficient of 16%. By comparison, a mating betw. a human half brother and half sister with no other common ancestors would create a coefficient of only 12.5 percent.   

       I have suggestions about how to fix this problem in the industry. I have talked to many people who all agree with me. I say, give me 20 years and I can produce a TB horse that will kick the butt off of the TBs of today and even, moreso, the TBs that we will have in 20 years if we don't stop this madness..... alas, I have not the support or backing to prove my theory.....so I sit and watch the animals I love and live by decline even further into depths from which I do not think they can recover.....   

       Technology actually has been a bad thing when it comes to horses. We patch the less durable creatures up....and then we breed them because they cannot race. Lordhelpus. (for this reason particularly as well as others generally, I am responsible for the one negative vote this idea has received....artificial limbs for horses are a bad, bad idea)
Susen, Jun 11 2001

       Wow... that was great! Thanks Susen. Interesting and sad. So are you not allowed to just go out on your own and introduce some new bloodlines?
PotatoStew, Jun 11 2001

       PotatoStew: Yes, but they cannot be registered as TBs. Inherent also in this is that I, myself, would be limited and have to do so on a small scale which would, again, lead to a small population and the problems that already exist. To solve the problem properly, I would need:
1) time (20 years min. assuming a generation of horse is 4-5 years ---birth to reproduction after horse "proves" merit to breed), and
2) money (given that the freakin' green paper is so necessary ---staff, facilities, acres of land, feed, vet costs, farrier costs, etc.---- so necessary also as the horses I produced could not be sold for income as they would be needed for breeding for the duration of the project).

       The only way I can see to get this happen would be to do the program...and then kick some TB butt on the racetracks in 20 years. With full breeding records and DNA typing to prove the genetics, the Jockey Club would..... *hopefully* and under pressure from everyone...then open the stud book to the horses from the program.   

       What I need <<<<<wish list>>>>> is a supporting foundation ////with money bags//// to listen to the theories and reasoning (((already proven in hogs, dairy cows, and chickens)))), about 10,000 acres with full facilities including race tracks, barns, pastures, etc., a full staff, and money to make it all happen. Hey, anyone have about $50 mill. to start and faith enough in me to let me try something for the next 20 years? <grin>   

       Mephista: I've written articles for Thoroughbred associations and organizations....I've lectured owners and breeders.... da*n commercial industry. Yearlings (unraced creatures) sell for millions. A racehorse/stud can be a millionaire at 3 and a cripple at 4...but breeders still breed to him in hopes of getting that next millionaire at 3....   

       UB: are you guilty of being [ Ninjitsu Master ] and posting this idea to get my mind off of that wedding that took place Saturday??? .....if I find out that it was you ((jutta, PLEASE!))....I'm going to get even!!!! <snicker> then again, if you are guilty....thanks. I needed a distraction and someone to remind me of what was really important in my life.
Susen, Jun 11 2001

       Susen. To quote your comment on 9th June 'This is why we do carry guns on long trail rides or when foxhunting.' By foxhunting do you mean that 'sport' favoured by the remains of the English aristocracy where the unspeakable persue the inedible?
Ivy, Jun 11 2001

       America has fox hunting too and Susen participates in these hunts.
Aristotle, Jun 11 2001

       Link added for Ivy's information.
Susen, Jun 11 2001

       Better things to do, Thank You.
Ivy, Jun 11 2001

       Since the problem is endemic to the animal, I propose: A) Breeding horses with legs like and elephant, or B) Make horses drink at least one glass of milk a day (it does a body good).
phoenix, Jun 11 2001

       Reading Susens' various posts makes me think again of the apparent fact that it seems to be a major accomplishment for as delicate animal as a horse to live long enough to need to be shot for breaking a leg...
StarChaser, Jun 11 2001

       Interesting stuff, Susen (& well written), but rather than replacing the one injured leg, couldn't you just saw off the other three and replace them all with casters?
DrBob, Jun 11 2001

       [DrBob] I had this thought myself, with a slight modification. Imagine a harness race where the horse is also the sulky!
phoenix, Jun 11 2001

       <grin>Dr Bob....that's not a horse....that's a pull-toy.... ;-)
Susen, Jun 11 2001

       If a half-brother and half-sister cross has an inbreeding coefficient of 12.5% and the most debunkmentproof of psychics guess correctly 13% of the time, is it any wonder that losers bet big even when facing house odds? Why not just clone a TB? Would that be a McTB?
reensure, Jun 11 2001

       RIP: Political Humor (aka "Polly")
April 11,1998 ---- June 16, 2001

       may you be in a pasture of clover with sunshine on your back and wind in your mane   

       The break was very severe. We put her down, on the track here at my farm about 4 hours ago. What a day....
Susen, Jun 16 2001

       Ack! I'm sorry...
StarChaser, Jun 17 2001

       Susen. May I call you Susen?   

       Read every word, learned a lot. Thank you very much. I read the whole thing to my wife and e-mailed several friends suggesting they read it.   

       But...a sad ending? Hey! This is Half-Bakery. Snap out of it, everyone! Howcome no one suggested a hook to replace a front leg? Har!   

       Anyone want to discuss artificial legs for foxes?
melanerpes, Jun 19 2001

       melanerpes: yes, you may call me Susen :-) Thank you for the positive post. I'm glad you enjoyed my writing enough to tell others to read it. Are you involved in horses in some way?   

       A hook? Hmmm....hadn't though of that....we could put a gold ring in their ear too and a parrot on their withers....   

       It's odd how the 1/2B actually mirrors my life in so many ways. We started all of this talk about horses' legs on June 9 and just a week later, a severe break happens here at my farm.....the first one this severe in 3 years.....all I could think about while I waited for the vet was this idea. Polly's break was very high up in the front leg in the shoulder area (humerus). It just snapped as she was doing a light canter. Dani was riding her at the time and I took her to the hospital later to have her checked and she is fine despite taking a very bad fall. Polly went into shock immediately and we put her down about 30 minutes after it happened so she didn't suffer much and we were with her the whole time.   

       Another strange coincidence was that my crew and I just watched the Exorcist two nights ago (I hadn't seen it in over 10 years) and today there is the post about the Pepsi girl looking like Linda Blair from the movie....   

       I can't count how many times these types of things have happened.....it's surreal sometimes.....I know someone is going to mention a pirate's hook to me now within a couple of days.....
Susen, Jun 19 2001

       Oh geez. Sorry about Polly. I'm dogsitting a blue heeler with a broken radius; the break was just above the wrist and tore the ligaments so that an operation was needed. Lucky for dogs they're light enough they can get around on three legs while they heal.
Dog Ed, Jun 19 2001

       I did a search for "horses" and this was the first hit I got. [Susen] left before I got here, and my efforts to track her have been unsuccessful.   

       She pegged it on the difficulty of convincing a horse to cooperate with repair and rehabilitation.   

       I always wonder how her story turned out.   

       I learned to ride on race track coulda-been-a-contenders, and my first horse was a race track refugee, lamed and abandoned by his owner.   

       Long live BoldAndBetter, aka Benny.
normzone, Oct 16 2007

       <temptation too great>   

       I think people would go for this if the horse was being converted into something useful like some sort of mobile, musical, apiarist and entertainment centre.   

theleopard, Oct 16 2007

       Well, it's nigh on eight years since most of this was written, and it's been pretty well proven that [Susen] knew what she was talking about. I'm bumping this because it's currently relevant.
lurch, May 06 2008

       What she said was true regarding breeding for speed, not longevity.
normzone, May 06 2008


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