What are growth plates in horses?
Wednesday, January 17, 2024
What are growth plates?
Horses’ skeletons develop rapidly. Whereas a human’s skeleton takes about 15 to 18 years to develop in a height and about 21 years to fully develop in density, a horse finishes growing in height by approximately 3 years of age. Once the three years have passed, horses will not grow much more in height.
A growth plate (epiphyseal plate) is a line of cartilage at the ends of the long bones in an equine. Growth plate fusion is when the bone stops growing and the cartilage growth plate fuses into bone. In horses, this process starts from the bottom up, with joints at the bottom of the legs fusing first.
The further the bone is away from the body, the sooner the growth plate closes The short pastern bone growth plates close around 3 months, the femur closes around 30 months, and the humerus closes are 36 months.
Is it painful when the growth plates are closing?
Just like growing pains in children, it is hard to know if horses feel the discomfort like children do. Sometimes horses may be slightly lame or just not moving correctly. Many veterinarians we spoke to believe that some horses do get sore when the growth plates are closing. Injections, Bute, or CBD may help your young horses get through the discomfort.