Is my horse lame?
Updated: Aug 21, 2020
Lame horses always need to be seen and evaluated by your vet. But I thought it would be helpful to go over some guidelines for lameness, because for owners and riders it's important to catch the lameness before it gets out of hand! Early detection and treatment is key to your horse's recovery and well-being. There are 5 grades of lameness defined by severity of movement: Grade 1: difficult to observe, not consistently apparent Grade 2: difficult to observe at a walk or trot in straight line, but consistently apparent under a certain circumstance, like circle, incline, hard surface Grade 3: consistently observable under all circumstances Grade 4: very obvious lameness Grade 5: minimal weight bearing at rest or inability to move. The constant guessing game for a lot of horse owners / riders with grade 1-3 lameness, which leg is my horse lame on? The horse will un-weight the painful part when it's being used. If this part is in the REAR it will shift its weight forward by bobbing the head DOWN when the painful part is weight baring. If it's in the FRONT it will RAISE the head when the painful part is weight baring. There are 3 obvious components that could be involved in lameness: 1: the hoof (unbalanced, shoe, abscess) 2: the bones / joints(compression problems) 3: the soft tissue (suspension problems). Note: Some horses can be lame from soft tissue (muscle/ligament) issues other then in the leg, like shoulder, back or pelvis. This can be addressed after the vet has cleared your horse's legs and can be solved by a good equine sports massage therapist like Mireille from www.md-equine.com Key to today's education: know your horse's rhythm, look at your horse from the ground, feel your horse under saddle, the slightest change or unevenness might indicate a change in the body, prevention and early detection are key! Happy and safe riding! 😃🐎