Veterinary advice should be sought before applying any treatment or vaccine.


Osteochondrosis (OC) refers to abnormalities of developing bone; resulting in bone and/or cartilage defects at the joint surface. It is a highly prevalent, multifactorial type of developmental orthopedic disease (DOD) of growing horses.

OC occurs very frequently warmblood horses. The prevalence of OC in Dutch warmblood horses between 1-4 years old was estimated to be about 25% of the population. In Thoroughbreds, the overall prevalence of OC is 23%.

OC is an aseptic ischemic necrosis, and has most frequently been described as failure of endochondral ossification, resulting in either Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD) or Subchondral Bone Cysts. OC most frequently occurs in the hock, stifle and fetlock joints. Less commonly, it can occur in the scapulohumeral, hip and elbow joints.

Clinical signs of OC may or may not be obviously present, however when they are, the most commonly observed include joint effusion and lameness.


Joint effusion
Reduced activity
Prolonged recumbency


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Radiographs
  • Ultrasound


SurgeryShould be considered for foals demonstrating clinical signs of joint effusion and lameness
TrainingLimiting exercise, combined with chondroprotective therapy


  • Providing additional copper supplements to mares during pregnancy


Based on the location, number of joints involved, lesion size, presence of osteoarthritis and severity of clinical signs.

Scientific Research References

    Good Overviews

    Age Range

    OC tends to affect the joints of young, rapidly growing performance horses

    Risk Factors

    • Poor conformation
    • Genetic predisposition
    • Excessive exercise or lack of adequate exercise in young foals
    • Rapid growth
    • Nutrition: Horses on diets exceeding the National Research Council (NRC) recommendations for carbohydrate and protein requirements.
    • Acute or repeated trauma: Biomechanical stress or trauma on the joints and growth cartilage.
    • Copper (trace element) deficiency