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CASE #11

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.

 

Review the short video footage below:

 

Now, answer the following questions (to the best of your ability):

  • Which limb or limbs is affected?

  • Is the lameness weightbearing or nonweightbearing in nature?

    • WEIGHTBEARING = Abnormality is observed during the caudal (backward) phase of the stride or when the limb is on the ground (and bearing weight). *HINT: A weightbearing lameness looks as though the non-affected limb falls into a hole. The deeper the hole, the more severe the lameness.

    • NONWEIGHTBEARING = Abnormality is observed during the cranial (forward) phase of the stride or when the limb is in flight (and not bearing weight). *HINT: A non-weightbearing lameness looks as though the affected limb has a brick tied to the foot. The heavier the brick, the more severe the lameness.

  • Is the gait hypermetric or hypometric?

    • HYPERMETRIC = Limb is elevated off of the ground higher than usual.

    • HYPOMETRIC = Limb is elevated off the ground lower than usual.

  • Are there any distinguishing characteristics to the gait?

 

 

Click HERE for ANSWERS

 

 

As always, please feel free to CONTACT US or call our office at (678) 867-2577 for more information. We look forward to serving you!

THE ATLANTA EQUINE CLINIC: 1665 Ward Road, Hoschton, Georgia 30548 - ph. 678-867-2577

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