Evaluating Lameness in the Horse: The GAIT SIGNATURE
Identifying the "affected" limb is only the first part of evaluating lameness in the horse. In our experience, careful observation of the horse's gait characteristics can provide invaluable information with regard to likely (more specific) source(s) of pain.
For example, let's look at three separate horses which all exhibit a right pelvic (RH) limb lameness. The first horse has arthritis in the fetlock joint, the second horse suffers from tarsitis (hock pain) and the third horse has a stifle problem. All three horses will exhibit right pelvic (RH) limb lameness... How can we tell which of the horses is hock sore?
More information is required to help us make a specific diagnosis. With careful observation, we can see that each horse's pattern of movement in the RH limb will differ from that of the others. A problem in the fetlock joint looks different from a problem in the hock which in turn looks different from a problem in the stifle. We can use known, consistent and abnormal patterns of movement to create a gait signature for each horse, which will allow us to more specifically isolate the source(s) of the problem.
This page is designed to help horse owners develop a sense of what problems associated with specific structures "look like" to the naked eye.
TEST your eye by reviewing one of the lameness cases below:
CASE #1: Horse having trouble getting out of stall.CASE #2: Horse resisting to walk. CASE #3: Horses twisting and stabbing hind limbs during walk and trotCASE #4: Horse with a "funny" walk.CASE #5: Horse having a difficult time backing-up.CASE #6: Horse with a spastic limb movement.CASE #7: Horse lame in two limbs at once.CASE #8: Horse tossing his head at the trot.CASE #9: Horse having difficulty moving one hindlimb.CASE #10: Horse very stiff at the walk.CASE #11: Horse unable to load one hindlimb.