16 Jan 2020

Elite Equine and Leg Deformities in Young Foals


One of our Elite Equine customers recently wrote a review on her experience with this serious condition and the relief that Elite Equine brought.

The team at explains the disorder in more detail:

Physitis is a condition that causes deformities in the legs of young foals, mostly weanlings and yearlings, that are growing rapidly and that have a diet that is out of balance in certain minerals. The condition can develop at any time while the growth plates in the limbs are still open.

Physitis involves swelling around the growth plates of certain long bones in young horses causing angular limb deformity. It can be a component of osteochondrosis which is a condition related to the process by which cartilage is converted to bone.

The changes seen in physitis also occur in clinically normal horses; the condition is seen frequently in well-grown, fast-growing, heavy-topped foals during the summer when the ground is dry and hard, and on stud farms where the calcium to phosphorus ratio in the diet is unbalanced.

The condition can result in an angular limb deformity in a foal can take the form of a lateral or medial deviation of the limb. In some cases, there will be a rotational deformity present in conjunction with the angular deformity.


Stiff gait
Reluctance to move
Pain on deep palpation
Heat in affected area
Enlargement of the distal radius, tibia, and cannon bones
Hourglass appearance of the knee, hock, and fetlock joints


Suggested causes of physitis include malnutrition, conformational defects, faulty hoof growth, compression of the growth plate, and toxicosis. The most acceptable hypothesis at this time appears to be the compression theory.


Since the condition affects foals with pre-existing angular limb deformities and weanlings or yearlings with straight legs, attention needs to be given to proper diet, proper exercise, and careful hoof trimming based on a veterinarian’s advice.

As a preventive measure, the older foal or yearling that is fat or heavy-topped should be watched carefully for clinical signs, especially when the ground is hard and dry. When these conditions prevail, feed rations and exercise should be restricted.


Conservative treatment includes corrective hoof trimming and shoeing. Corrective trimming should be performed on all foals that are confined in order to accentuate the benefit of stall rest. If the feet are trimmed properly, the weight distribution across the physis changes and it will adapt its growth in order to straighten the leg.

Treatment consists of reducing food intake to reduce body weight or at least growth rate, confining exercise to a yard or a large, well-ventilated loose box with a soft surface, ensuring that the feet are carefully and frequently trimmed, and correcting the diet if necessary. Vitamin D supplements are indicated, but the dosage must be monitored closely to avoid hypervitaminosis D.

Anti-inflammatories and other treatments may be recommended by a veterinarian to provide pain relief and enable the foal to engage in proper exercise.

Veterinarians sometimes suggest surgical options. Surgery becomes necessary in some cases if the best possible outcome is desired. There are different surgical options, some depending on the severity of the angulation, and others on the surgeon’s preference.” [1]

Jessica wrote about her own experience on Trustpilot:

“I’ve been using this product for a few months now and I’ve noticed a big difference in my horse. He’s a blue ribbon Competitive Show Jumper who’s successfully competed at a meter 30. When he was a baby, He was mis-fed large quantities of protein creating a condition called Epiphysitis, Physeal Dysplasia. That condition then led to corrective surgery in his front two feet. Due to this surgery, he suffers from inflammation of his joints and hocks. He’s had a noticeable improvement in his comfort and performance since starting Elite Equine. 5 stars!”

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Photo by Joshua Sagar on Unsplash