Have you known of any horses fracturing their pelvis?

“Hi Stacy just curious as to your thoughts on this…. I traded a nice Gucci mare for her 1st foal which was born may 2013…I would visit her every week and at the 4 week old mark I noticed her right hind was hurt..she would walk on it but hold it up at the trot & canter…I told the barn owner and had to keep asking and he finally had a vet out…vet palpatated her and she was sore and had a slight temp so she thought growth plate infection and prescribed antibiotics & stall rest. I continued my weekly visits and kept asking barn owner how she was doing and when would she be off stall rest (I had no vet report to go by) he said she’s about 85% that the vet was out again which later on I found out was a lie 🙁 my filly’s name is Paris and they weaned her at 4.5 months and I immediately picked her up. I had my vet Dr. J come look her over to check for worms & physical exam. He noticed her right knee with a bump and watched her go and wanted to xray it…he did….2 knee fractures!!!! So he consulted a surgeon and no surgery was required just stall rest…. That ended up being 16 weeks after several xray checks on the healing progress. I told Dr. J about the back leg as it was still weird but due to the knee it got pushed aside as we though it wasn’t anything to worry about. Well after all this time & money the knee healed fine but the hind end was still funky…I had exam & chiro done a few times with no results. Finally I had an opportunity to take her to the equine hospital and she had stifle X-rays which were clean then we did hip X-rays and results were she fractured her pelvis at around 1-2 months of age! The surgeon could tell by the break & healing it’s done the approx time frame. I had Paris boarding at a facility and decided to take her home to lay her to rest. Vet said she may be pasture sound but said most cases as they get bigger & heavier they become painful and often get put down 🙁 have u known any horses fracturing their pelvis? Does the barn owner have any responsiblity to help with the expenses I’ve endured since picking her up? This is so sad” 🙁 -SRW

This is a very sad story. I know many breeders and although the majority of times things go well, I have seen many odd ball cases over the years.

I know of one other foal, at about the same age as yours, that came in from the pasture one night lame. The owner called the vet when he noticed the foal was lame…and that foal also had a broken pelvis. The vet recommended euthanasia and the shocked owner agreed. There were no outward marks on the foal, no evidence (mud, scrapes, etc) showing any impact or fall. How the injury happened remains a mystery.

Lean With Me recovered from a pelvic fracture, winning a World title!

Lean With Me recovered from a pelvic fracture, winning a World title!

I have read the amazing story of an older horse, Lean With Me, who fractured his pelvis at the age of three. He was a show horse before the injury and, miraculously, he returned to showing AFTER his fracture…winning a World title. To read Lean With Me’s full story, click here.

Regarding the knee, I also knew a filly, just months old, that somehow chipped her knee. The location of the chip near the joint made it too risky to do surgery. The vet recommend letting her grow and looking at her again when the joint was bigger. If the chip was still floating then the vet would remove it. The chip did not remain floating but instead it calcified to the knee. This caused much of the knee joints to fuse also.

I took the mare to her follow up appointment. The vets did a lameness exam and reported that she had a limited range of motion, but that she didn’t appear to be in any pain. They gave me the OK to ride her as long as she remained comfortable. Before leaving the office they wanted to also do x-rays. Upon reading the x-rays the vets exclaimed, “If I had seen these x-rays first I would have said this horse was crippled and would be completely unsound.” She went on to win many events and has never been lame.

The story of your filly is a sad one. It is tempting to say that the barn owner should have known, or the first vet, or the second vet but generally things aren’t that clear. I am sure that if you had believed that something was major that you would have had the vet out directly. The first vet saw an elevated temp and soreness and likely went with a diagnosis that was either more common, more fitting or quite possibly also true. The second vet also had to make the decision to treat the most pressing issue, the knee.

Medically treating horses is always difficult because they cannot talk. The mare I described above with the knee issue would have been proclaimed a cripple by her x-rays…yet she is sound and happy. It sounds like your filly was a trooper and the emotional pain and financial costs are both depressing but try to remember that you did the best you could each step of the way and I’m sure Paris appreciated it.



  1. Cindy on October 19, 2014 at 1:27 am

    I know of two. One was a reining horse mare that fractured her pelvis in a trailer incident…she went back to normal function but her owner sold her and didn’t want her tondo reining again. The other is a three yr. old in a barn where I rent stalls, he was cast and fractured his pelvis.nright now we aren’t sure of his prognosis.

    • mein64 on October 20, 2014 at 10:31 pm

      He is in a cast? Mine was stalled for 6 months…as they like them to be as non mobile as possible…I just took my first ride on him for about 10 min this past saturday …he fractured his pelvis on May 29,2013

  2. Heather Fenn on October 18, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    My friend also had a filly who broke her pelvis. He was told to have her put down by the the vet. He ignored this and turned the filly out. She made a full recovery……..winning reserve championship at royal Windsor 3 years ago.

  3. Heather on October 17, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    I had a filly running at the track that stress fractured her pelvis in her last start. She was on stall rest for three months and bute, nothing stronger. What ultimately bothered her more was a knee chip. With either injury she was never completely lame, but was never going to be completely sound again. She was retired to be a pasture buddy and her new family loves on her all the time. She is still trail ridden and quite happy seven years later. If a horse is in pain and it is time to euthanize them they will tell you, otherwise I don’t do it. Just like human doctors, vets don’t know everything or always have the right answer.

  4. sarah on October 17, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    My horse is 12 years old his name is Blu and he had a broken pelvis when he was young it healed crooked but he is sound to ride now. He is my trail riding horse.

  5. Paulina on October 17, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    It really depends where the fracture is. My mare broke her pelvis but at the spurs end near her butt not in the boxy bit. She healed and went on to do elementary dressage and still jumped. Her back end muscles are lop sided and if you lift her tail you can see where the bone has shifted over to the middle but she looks fine across the top of the rump. Good luck with it. It’s a hard thing to go through.

  6. Peggy Tait-Plotkin on October 17, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    My 3 year old Paso Fino mare slipped and “pancaked on concrete” and broke her pelvis. After 8 months of stall rest, she now runs and bucks and has a good time in the round pen. She will never be a rider but she can pony light supply loads, etc. Had a trainer tell me to get MRI done. If she can’t breed then put her down. NO!!! She has a forever home with me even if she is just a pet.

  7. jessica on October 17, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Look up Bens Cat. TB race horse. He had fractured his pelvis at one time.

  8. Sierra on October 17, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    My quarter horse gelding fractured his

  9. Roxanna Hiebert on October 17, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    We had a lovely 2 year old colt fracture his right pelvis. As we could control his pain well and he was mobile, we decided to let him heal and thought he could just be a pasture rat for the rest of his life. However, as a 4 year old, he fell and fractured his other hip and we, at that time, had to put him down. You hope for the best for your horses, but sometimes, making the decision sooner than later, may be the best remedy.

  10. NK on October 17, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    What my mentors taught me was: for many horses, arthritis hocks or bad side bone can bother one horse but maybe not to the same extend as another. You can have a high level eventer with fetlocks that look like swiss cheese but not take a lame step.
    We saw a horse that presented lame, not badly, but they suspected a simple abscess. Turns out she had a nail go through her frog! That mare was tough! Most other horses wouldn’t have presented as lame. Pain threshold is different for all horses. And not all winning horses are radiographically clean.

    For this reason, a systematic approach to diagnosing the cause of lameness is essential. Hence, the reason for a long, deep lameness exam using local blocks progressively up the leg.

    This was a sad story to hear and I am glad it wasn’t much worse. But keep this kind of lameness exam in mind.

    You don’t want to blinding x-ray the entire leg of a horse (who sure, is positively lame on that leg. But where?) And you end up taking out a bone chip, but 3 months later: horse is still lame. And it could have been due to navicular degeneration or a ligament problem… Client paid for surgery, and horse is still lame after surgery. No bueno.

    But that was what I was taught and I am still early in my training! Something to think about or talk to your vet about…

  11. SlewsGirl on October 17, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Why not give the filly a chance?

    • Valerie Morrison on October 17, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      I would have tried to give the filly a chance. I have seen my horses take a flying run and have their feet come right out from under them and land on their side (hip and shoulder). All I can do is pray that they come out safe and sound.

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