Lameness investigation

Lameness and poor performance in your horse

As horse owners, we have all come across a situation where your horse or pony is not right. It may be they are stiff through their back, not comfortable leading with a given leg, or just not working as well as they used to.

Lameness or poor performance is what we can see when a horse is either experiencing pain during locomotion (moving), or there is a physical limitation to their movement.

Investigating the problem often requires a combination of assessment techniques that may need to be performed over a period of time, in differing environments and sometimes requiring medical intervention.

Preparing for a lameness investigation

Upon requesting one of our vets to perform a lameness investigation we may advise you of the following prior to our visit.

  • No painkillers should be administered to the animal for at least 3 days before the examination, unless we specifically advise otherwise.  Painkillers may include: equipalazone, danilon, pro-dynam, metacam and rheumocam.
  • Do not request for your farrier to remove any shoes prior to the examination.   Many horses that are bare foot may become may become foot sore and we may not be able to assess the original lameness.
  • We may require your horse or pony to be trotted up or lunged on different surfaces (e.g on non-slippy tarmac or in an arena) as well as under saddle.
  • The environment may limit how we can assess your horse.  Using a field to assess a horse may make it particularly difficult so please discuss the options available to us before we arrive.

What to expect on the day

The most important part of the visit is to allow time.  

On occasion an investigation may take several hours.  In these cases we would suggest the horse is brought to our facility and left with us all day. It may be that the horse is collected later that afternoon or you may prefer to collect them the next day.

Whatever we need to do, you can rest assured that we are working with your horse's welfare at heart.  

Please talk to your vet about the findings and discuss the options so we can agree the best solution for your horse.




Some of the more common techniques employed

  • Under saddle vs in-hand -
    most examinations include seeing the horse trotted up in hand and lunged on soft and hard surfaces (if available). Seeing the horse ridden is important in some cases as lameness or poor performance can look different under saddle.
  • Flexion testing -
    by holding the horse’s limb in a flexed position certain structures are put under stress or strain. Assessing how the horse trots up immediately afterwards can help us with our investigation.
  • Nerve blocks and joint blocks -
     'Blocking’ involves injecting local anaesthetic near to nerves or directly into a joint or synovial cavity (e.g. navicular bursa, tendon sheath) to block sensation (feeling). The area supplied by the nerve will become numb, and if this is the area which is causing the pain, the lameness will temporarily disappear. We may need to perform several blocks in one or more legs to get to the bottom of the lameness, sometimes on different days.
  • Diagnostic imaging - We have fully portable X-ray and ultrasound equipment which can be used at your premesis.

Once we understand the problem we can start to work towards a solution

This gives us a starting point and will allow us to make a plan that will work for both you and your horse.

Some of the treatments we can perform or advise include medical intervention, shockwave therapy, physiotherapy, farriery, and surgery.


Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about our services

Email:   Telephone: 01737 246109

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