Get a Diagnosis

Watch your horse closely, and make sure your team of professionals is, too, to catch lameness early. Equine lameness specialist and equine veterinarian Dr. Bob McCrady of Raymond, Missouri, has seen thousands of lameness cases. He offers this advice to horse owners to help keep their horses on their feet and in competition:

Check Your Horse Daily
Dr. McCrady suggests that horse owners keep a close eye on their horse, so they can catch changes as soon as they happen. Use the people around you, says Dr. McCrady, to help recognize any differences in the horse’s movement. Ask your farrier, trainer and anyone else that has regular contact with the horse to let you know of any missteps in gait or performance. These changes could be an early warning.

In AQHA’s FREE Laminitis Treatment report,  Dr. Micheal Steward, a veterinarian in Shawnee, Oklahoma, explains how he finds success with placing wooden shoes on laminitic horses. The shoes, he says, help support the hoof and help it heal.
“Every time you go out there, run your hands over the horse and run your eyes over the horse. If something doesn’t look right or is different, it should be called to somebody’s attention. It may be telling you something is about to go wrong.

Talk To Your Farrier
Good farriery is very important. Dr. McCrady says farriers sometimes don’t know they are making a mistake because the owner doesn’t tell them. Talk with your farrier and make sure they know what disciplines your horse will be in and what will be required of the horse.

“Farriers will oftentimes, unless the trainer or owner complain that something’s not right, they are going to do it just like they did before,” Dr. McCrady says. “If nobody’s complaining, then they must have done it right. So if your trainer says, he’s not moving as well as he used to, then have it assessed. These farriers are very good at what they do, but they aren’t going to change a hoof dramatically if the owner or trainer didn’t request it.”

The terms “laminitis” and “founder” are used interchangeably. However, founder usually refers to a chronic (long-term) condition associated with rotation of the coffin bone. Acute laminitis refers to symptoms associated with a sudden initial attack, including pain and inflammation of the laminae. Find out more in AQHA’s FREE Laminitis Treatment report.

Having a farrier that will listen to you and help you make decisions that are best for the horse is probably one of the most important things you can do for your horse, says Dr. McCrady.

“A lot of injuries or lamenesses are related to poor or inadequate farriership,” Dr. McCrady says. “If you have recurring problems, it’s very nice to look at radiographs with the farrier standing there. Then vet and farrier can idealize together how best to help this horse to be most comfortable.”

Regular Checkup
Also getting a regular soundness exam, where the veterinarian checks your horse from head to toe, will help owners stay on top of lameness. It’s better to catch a problem early and fix it rather than have your horse suffer irreparable damage to cartilage or bone tissue.

Continue reading this story on America's Horse Daily.

Photo: Thoroughly check your horse every day in order to catch signs of lameness early on. Journal photo.