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Re: [RC] Coffin bone growth - Diane Trefethen

I have been waiting for some sort of response on this subject but haven't seen one. So tonight I went surfing on the Net to see if I could find the answer. I found it. P3, aka, coffin bone, is fused at birth. Vertebrae growth plates close between 5 1/2 yrs and 8 yrs depending on height, length of neck and sex (males take 6 months longer than females). [I think there is joke in there somewhere :)]

Dr Deb Bennett, Ph. D. has written an article called "TIMING AND RATE OF SKELETAL MATURATION IN HORSES" which can be found at
In this article she includes a schedule of the closing of growth plates for bones. She states, "The process of converting the growth plates to bone goes from the bottom of the animal up. In other words, the lower down toward the hoofs you look, the earlier the growth plates will have fused; and the higher up toward the animal's back you look, the later. The growth plate at the top of the coffin bone (the most distal bone of the limb) is fused at birth. What that means is that the coffin bones get no taller after birth (they get much larger around, though, by another mechanism). That's the first one." She then lists when each bone's plates close ending with, "And what do you think is last? The vertebral column, of course. A normal horse has 32 vertebrae between the back of the skull and the root of the dock, and there are several growth plates on each one, the most important of which is the one capping the centrum. These do not fuse until the horse is at least 5 ½ years old (and this figure applies to a small-sized, scrubby, range-raised mare. The taller your horse and the longer its neck, the later the last fusions will occur. And for a male - is this a surprise? - you add six months. So, for example, a 17-hand Thoroughbred or Saddlebred or Warmblood gelding may not be fully mature until his 8th year - something that owners of such individuals have often told me that they "suspected").

k s swigart wrote:
Karen Sullivan wrote:

Like the spine, the coffin bone is not finished
growing until age 4-5....

Could I get a reference for this?

What type of growing does a coffin bone do and how.

It is my understanding that the P2/P3 joint (i.e. the joint between the
coffin bone and the short pastern bone) is actually "closed" (i.e. the
bone no longer has any cartligeous growth plates) before a horse is
born.  But I am willing to confess that my understanding my be wrong.


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