Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Bench Knee, Offset Cannon Bone

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If you are considering purchase, be sure to have a purchase exam performed.
  • Your vet can rule out common lameness conditions and recommend treatment or management.

Bench knee is a common conformational abnormality wherein the cannon bone sits in an outside position (laterally) relative to the carpus (the “knee”) viewed from the front.

This abnormality places excessive stress on the lower joints and ligaments of the carpus, predisposing to carpal arthritis and splint injuries.


If you see this conformation in a horse you plan to purchase, you should consider this a fault. Your vet can help you determine its significance in light of the horse’s other characteristics and your intended use.

If you already own the horse, keep in mind that this conformation favors the development of arthritis of the carpus and the development of inside splints. Ask your vet about whether your expectations are reasonable given this conformation. You may need to reduce your expectations so as not to overload this area.

Monitor the horse for swelling of the carpus or reduced range of motion. Either could indicate the development of arthritis. Monitor your horse for lameness and for a lump associated with the inside splint bone. It is also good to keep your horse’s hooves trimmed on a regular basis.

Have a vet perform a purchase exam before buying a horse so that conformational abnormalities are identified and discussed. It is always important to select horses of good conformation for your intended use.


Your vet considers the situation (horse for purchase, already owned horse, growing foal) , the severity of the conformational abnormality and whether or not lameness exists, and helps you come up with a plan accordingly. Radiography and other diagnostics may provide additional information.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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