Treatment and resolution
Rest, with controlled activity, is the primary treatment, and no matter what else is done during that time (e.g., ice treatment,
shock-wave therapy), reduction in strenuous training will allow the bone to heal and the condition to be resolved. "Time is
best to resolve the condition," says Burba.
But Hogan counters that extended rest is actually contraindicated. "It's not that rest isn't a good idea, but rather it's
the degree or grades of rest given," says Hogan. "The rule of thumb: Once bucked shins occur, give the horse only what exercise
level it can handle without experiencing any discomfort so that it can develop the right bone structure without causing pathology."
Nunamaker hypothesized that to adequately adapt for racing, during training the MCIII, or cannon bone, should be exposed
to strains of the actual magnitude and direction experienced during racing. Generally, horses just need a reduced training
regimen. Treatment involves therapies aimed at cooling them down and reducing pain and inflammation (e.g., ice, topical medications,
Shock-wave therapy in horses with bucked shins probably relieves pain and may have some effect on the surface of the bone,
but not on the deeper tissue. The technique involves applying high-energy sound waves repeatedly at tissues to encourage an
increase in blood vessel formation in the area, thereby increasing blood flow to aid the healing process.
The good news, according to Nunamaker, is that once the condition occurs and resolves, horses do not experience this problem
again. But evidence shows that future, more serious injury is possible.1
Nunamaker also states that catastrophic complete midshaft fractures of the MCIII can occur when these horses are exercised
at speed or raced.
Burba states that many horses get bucked shins but never get stress fractures. As the horse gets older, the level of training
intensity is increased, and perhaps if a particular animal develops a stress fracture, it is because of its individual training
regimen, not because of previous bucked shins.
"It's a balance of training to get the horse ready to race but not pushing it to a point beyond where it becomes detrimental
and possibly leads to a fracture," Burba says.