Lameness is a term used to describe the horse’s gait being adversely affected by pain or a restriction in the typical range of movement. The pain or restriction can originate in the hoof, in the leg or elsewhere in the horse’s body, such as the back or neck. It can range from a subtle change in gait, to the horse being unable to carry any weight on the affected limb. Lameness has been identified as the most common reason for older horses to be put down.
Causes of lameness in horses
Causes of lameness in horses are wide ranging and include, but are not limited to, the following conditions:
Being able to identify the reason a horse is lame is an ongoing challenge for vets, particularly with subtle and intermittent problems. Unless there is a clear external injury to be seen, vets will use their expertise to identify the location of the problem. Examination of the limbs, trotting the horse up in a straight line and on a circle on soft and hard surfaces, plus nerve blocks are common ways to pin point the problem. There are also a range of diagnostic tools, such as X-rays and MRI scans, which vets can use to help with the diagnosis.
How to trot your horse up for a lameness examination