Conditions or ailments that are the cause of a problem that you see - your observation.

Your vet may diagnose

Bucked Shins

Synonyms: Dorsal Metacarpal Disease, Cortical Fissure Fracture, Shinbuck, Sore Shins, Stress Induced Bone Injury


Dorsal metacarpal disease is the inflammation of the bone covering the front of the cannon, and usually results from the concussive force caused by strenuous physical activity. It commonly occurs in the forelimbs, rarely in the hindlimbs.

This is a common condition of the front cannon bones of young (usually 2 year old) racehorses in training. It is common in the United States, where horses race on comparatively harder track surfaces.

Bone is a very dynamic tissue, constantly laying down or strengthening in response to the loads placed on it. The cannon bone can be thought of as a hollow tube. The thickness and hardness of the wall (especially on the front and inside surfaces of the bone) increase under the load of training.

Bucked shins are repetitive microscopic fractures that occur in the front wall of the cannon bone. A bone bridge (callus) and then injury recurs. They cause pain to pressure on the cannon, stiffness, thickness of the front wall of the bone, if not obvious lameness and poor performance.

Left unmanaged, horses that continue in unmodified training may be at risk for more serious stress fracture.

my vet's role


Prognosis in most cases is good with rest, bandaging, and change in training protocol. Occasionally, some horses may re-injure despite management.

my role


I might observe

You might make these observations when a horse has this condition.

Very Common
Less Common
more observations

Questions To Ask Your Vet:
  • What training protocol will result in strengthening of the front cortex of the bone without risking more serious injury?

A training program of frequent, short fast but hard gallops may be advised. Long galloping exercise may contribute to this problem.

further reading & resources

Related References:

Higgins AJ, Snyder JR eds. The Equine Manual. 2nd Ed. Edinburgh: Elsevier Saunders 2006.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP