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Equine Practice
Osteochondrosis in horses
  1. Leo Jeffcott

    Leo Jeffcott is professor of veterinary clinical studies and dean of the veterinary school at the University of Cambridge. Over the past 30 years he has worked as an equine clinician and researcher in the UK, Sweden and Australia. He has published over 250 articles on equine clinical medicine, perinatal pathology, pathology, clinical radiology and orthopaedics. He is an FEI event veterinarian and officiated at the past three Olympic Games and at the World Equestrian Games in 1990 and 1994. He is currently chairman of the International Conference on Equine Exercise Physiology to be held in Japan in 1998.


HORSE breeding as an international industry has made an enormous investment in science over the past three decades and this has reaped considerable benefits. For example, reproductive efficiency (ie, conception and birth rates) has been significantly improved in most breeds of horses and losses due to twinning almost eliminated. There have also been considerable advances in perinatology with improved rates of foal survival. However, the situation in relation to growth and skeletal development in young horses is far less satisfactory. This is largely because this area has not been designated for detailed investigation and research. The result is that there is too much 'art' and not enough 'science' in the rearing/growing of foals. Perhaps this is why the incidence of developmental problems (osteochondrosis, physitis, angular limb derformities and so on) is unacceptably high in many breeds of horse. Many of these conditions can lead to weakness, impaired skeletal integrity, lameness and poor performance potential.

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