Musculoskeletal Disease

Photo: Silicosis Associated Osteoporosis (SAO)
Horse with silicate associated osteoporosis. Note the prominent shoulder blades (arrow) and sway back.

Musculoskeletal Disease

Silicosis Associated Osteoporosis (SAO)


We are investigating a recently identified disease in horses in which the bones become weak and osteoporotic. Research is focused on 1) determining what happens to the bones on microscopic level and 2) identifying the underlying mechanism of the disease. The ultimate goal of the research is to find optimal management of the affected horses and prevention strategies. Because many of the horses with the bone disease also have a lung disease called pulmonary silicosis, we are pursuing understanding of the link between the lung disease and the bone disease. 

Dr. Mandy Murray Arens has greatly advanced our understanding of SAO through her remarkable work and has completed her PhD in 2011. Dr. Regina Zavodovskaya, with interest is bone pathology, presently continues the investigation of SAO.


Susan M. Stover, DVM, PhD, Dipl ACVS


Scott Katzman, DVM, DACVS

Assistant Professor

Regina Zavodovskaya, MS, DVM, Dipl ACVP

Postdoctoral Researcher


You can help with the study by making us aware of horses whose disease warrants humane euthanasia due to poor quality of life because of SAO, or other terminal conditions. Donated horses will be humanely euthanized in the large animal clinic. For more details please contact Dr. Stover.