Lameness can be quite simply described as any alteration in the horse’s gait. The lameness exam will begin by gathering your horse’s medical and farriery history and work/exercise routine through a series of questions, conversation, and previous medical records. We will conduct a visual appraisal of your horse at rest and then evaluate conformation, balance and weight bearing, and look for any signs of injury or stress. A complete hands-on examination will be conducted in search of pain, heat or swelling of muscles, joints, bones and tendons. We will evaluate the movement of the horse at a walk and trot for a number of signs including head bobbing, switching leads, stiffness, shortening of the stride, and poor performance. Joint flexion tests will illuminate any subtle signs of pain and irregular movement.
To ensure a quality and controlled environment we much prefer to work up any lameness and/or pre-purchase examination in the hospital. However, the initial work up may be done on the farm as long as a solid and level surface is available. Further diagnostics may include blocking joints and nerves with a local anesthetic to pinpoint the origin of the lameness. Once isolated, imaging with radiographs (x-rays) and/or ultrasound can help determine the actual problem causing the lameness. This knowledge allows us to design a specific recovery plan for each horse.