Josie, a 22 year old mare grazes on the lush fields in Versailles, Kentucky. Despite her age, she is still spry and acts like a three-year old kicking up her heels and racing around the paddock. She's not royally bred. She's not a high value broodmare or a retired show horse. In fact, there's not much remarkable about her, except one thing...she only has three feet.
Josie has been a long time fixture at Dr. Ric Redden's International Equine Podiatry Center where she has lived with a prosthetic for over 18 years.
Most people don't realize that a horse can survive on three legs with a prosthetic limb. Disposition of the horse is the primary consideration for a prosthetic limb. Is the horse willing to use the help of a 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? Can the owner accept the responsibilities for care and that the horse will never be ridden again but will lead a full life?
Today's prosthetic limbs have come a long way from the beginning when they were stiff and non moving. Over the years, technology for horses has improved with the help of those who specialize in human orthotics and prosthetics. Once the horse's leg has healed, it's ready for the new 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.