Subtle signs of lameness in horses
Sometimes lameness in horses isn't easy to see. Here are a few of the less-obvious indications of unsoundness.
A full lameness exam can help pinpoint subtle signs of unsoundness in horses. A horse who is head-bobbing unsound is easy to spot, but more subtle signs of equine lameness can elude detection. Failing to notice when a horse is only slightly “off” can lead to a worsening of an injury or delay in treatment that makes a problem more difficult to resolve. Consult your veterinarian if you see any of the following signs
- A hind leg that doesn’t reach as far forward as the other with each stride
- Overall shorter strides or reluctance to “move out” when asked
- One hoof that consistently cuts deeper into footing than the opposite foot
- Resistance to picking up a particular lead
- Refusing or running out at fences
- A change in movement or demeanor when you post on a particular diagonal
- More or less flexion in the joint in one limb
- A “pecking” movement of the front legs, as if the horse is trying to tiptoe
- Asymmetrical hips or shoulders
- A significant change in gait when moving from soft to firm footing and back again
- Resistance to traveling from on type of footing to another
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