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Bionic Legs For Horses?
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Bionic Legs For Horses?

A Ph.D. graduate student at Louisiana State University is looking at the possibility of prosthetic legs for horses. Niki Marie Hansen is exploring implanting prosthetic legs directly to the leg bones of horses. Hansen has gone back to school with the desire of committing her life to making prosthetic legs for animals.

When she was a young girl, she had a horse which only had three legs. The horse was unable to support itself enough because of the missing leg and the animal died. It has been her dream to give some horses a longer and more mobile life. She is in hopes of there coming a day when a implanted prosthetic leg on a horse can be just as nice as those made for humans.

It is next to impossible to fix a horse's leg after a break. In a human leg, it means about eight weeks in a plaster cast, a few weeks physical therapy and then the patient is back to normal. However, the bones of a horse tend to shatter. Any kind of healing is usually not successful and can be very expensive. If the leg is fixed, the horse may wake up from the anesthetic and, still again, rebreak the bone due to thrashing his body around as he wakes up. In many cases, the horse would have to have their body weight supported for a long period of time in a sling.

There are a lot of tendons in the lower leg with little muscle and a limited blood supply. Healing time and infections are serious considerations and  this is why the majority of horses that break their legs are put down.

Although prosthetic legs for horses present quite a challenge they have already been able to design ones for cats, turtles, goats and dogs. The unique problem is the size of the horse and the need for them to support their weight. Laminitis will set in if all four limbs don't support this weight. These fake legs would have to be usable nearly from the very moment surgery is over.

Hansen will first be researching how long these implants will last and their strength. You can find out more about this research here.

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Leave a Comment

  1. tzigane
    That would be awesome!!
    Log in to reply.
    1. Eve Sherrill York
      Eve Sherrill York
      Wouldn't it? It's going to be difficult.
      Log in to reply.
  2. Archippus
    Vote #3! This is an awesome alternative considering many horses are put down due to injuries!
    Log in to reply.
    1. Eve Sherrill York
      Eve Sherrill York
      Yes, it is. Thanks
      Log in to reply.
  3. nascarangel
    would be great
    Log in to reply.
    1. Eve Sherrill York
      Eve Sherrill York
      It sure would be. Thank you for the vote.
      Log in to reply.
  4. Ann Johnston
    I have been reading lately about all types of advancement they have made with animals. This is really interesting.
    Log in to reply.
    1. Eve Sherrill York
      Eve Sherrill York
      Yes, it is.
      Log in to reply.
  5. Chestnut Mare
    Chestnut Mare
    Voted. What a great idea!
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    1. Eve Sherrill York
      Eve Sherrill York
      Thank you, Chestnut!
      Log in to reply.
  6. Sarah Johnston
    Sarah Johnston
    This is fascinating. What a great way to extend the life of a beautiful animal.
    Log in to reply.
    1. Eve Sherrill York
      Eve Sherrill York
      Indeed it is. Thanks.
      Log in to reply.
  7. Julie Sinclair
    Isn't it amazing what they can do today?
    Log in to reply.
    1. Eve Sherrill York
      Eve Sherrill York
      It sure is Julie!
      Log in to reply.
  8. autumnap
    autumnap
    Sounds great in theory but I doubt it would work in practice. The horse's physiology wouldn't allow for immobility that would be necessary during the recovery time. As for the three legged horse - I think most people who know horses would agree that that just isn't possible.
    Log in to reply.
    1. Eve Sherrill York
      Eve Sherrill York
      She has committed her life to this and I hope she finds a miracle.
      Log in to reply.
      1. autumnap
        autumnap
        She's certainly gonna need one!
        Log in to reply.
        1. Eve Sherrill York
          Eve Sherrill York
          I guess some are more positive than others.
          Log in to reply.

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