LAME HORSE (but which leg?)

You know your horse is lame but can't quite figure out which leg or where he hurts? Here's How!

In normal lameness due to pain, the first thing to find out is which leg for sure he is lame on. To do this have the horse walked away from you, then back towards you. Then have him trotted away from you and then back towards you, always in a straight line.

Do not look at the horses legs at first, instead watch his head, especially as he comes towards you. Keep your eyes fixed on his Poll between his ears. If the horse "Nods" his head, this confirms that he is lame. Now widen your field of vision to take in the forelegs. The horse will "Nod" his head downwards when he steps onto the SOUND leg. Because he is simply getting onto the SOUND leg quicker than normal by taking a short step with his lame leg.

If both front legs move freely, now fix your field of vision onto his hind quarters as he is going away from you. If the lameness is behind, then one quarter drops more than the other. That again is the SOUND leg on which he is dropping. The lame leg is the highest quarter.

If you have decided that the horse is lame in front and which leg he is lame on, then have him trotted towards you again, this time watch the legs only. If the lame leg moves straight foreword in a normal way (But With A Shorter Stride) than the sound leg, then chances are he is lame low down on the leg. If on the other hand, he swings the leg outwards, not bending it properly, then chances are he is lame higher up, probably in the shoulder.

Now stand to the side and watch the horse be trotted past you. Keep an eagle eye on the bottom of the hoof itself to see if he is landing square (correctly). Or on his toe OR on his heel? If he is landing on his heel, the lameness is most likely to be in the front of the leg. If he is landing on his toe, the back of the leg is probably involved.

NOTE: Regardless of where you think the lameness might be, ALWAYS start at the hoof by examining it first for the cause of the lameness. Also in cases such as Founder (Laminitis) and Navicular Disease, because the horse is lame on more than one leg/hoof, you need to spot that fact also.

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