Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More tidbits on lameness evaluations

In some respects, diagnosing lameness can be a numbers game. While you have to go with what you see, keep these stats in mind. I guess it's like the old med school adage, don't look for zebras when it's probably a horse...
  • 3/4 of lamenesses are in the forelimb, because 60% of the horse's weight is carried on the forehand. Hind limbs propel, front limbs absorb shock.
  • 95% of front leg lamnesses occur in the knee down.
  • In the hind limb, 80% of the lamenesses are in the hock and stifle.
  • Lameness of duration of a month or more is considered chronic, and the prognosis is more guarded.
  • Working the horse on a hard surface, the sound leg will make more noise (as it carries more weight for greater concussion) than the unsound leg.
  • Dressage, reining, and pulling horses may actually exhibit more hind leg lameness, since their "job" involves more weight carrying on the hind limbs...
 I know one psychological tendency that many of us have is to look for more hopeful diagnoses, however much more unlikely, to get a better prognosis. Hey, I'm all for that. :-)


  1. Interesting tidbits! And I must say, since I see so many horses "suddenly" become lame after they have been purchased by a new buyer... the more you are educated on lameness and movement, the better! (And having a vet experienced in observing that breed of horse to do your vet check is a must!)


  2. Thanks for the info! My 16 yr OTTB has been showing an intermittent catching or tripping in his LH leg for about a month. I haven't been able to produce it with any particular action and it seems to happen equally on the trail and in the arena. It may happen 2 or 3 times in a 1 hour ride. Nobody has been able to observe it from the ground yet. Other than the instant it happens he is outwardly sound. I haven't had the vet out yet...on a pre-purchase exam a year ago the vet said he was fairly arthritic in his hocks but considering his age and future work load I opted out of x-rays. Anybody have any thoughts?


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