STEVE: Lameness can come in, obviously, several varieties in lots of different levels of severity; from very, very subtle to very, very obvious. Typically I break down, and it’s a normal scale from the American Association of Equine Practitioners, a five point scale, with half points in-between. Half out of five being ever so slight, not very noticeable, and not in every step. Whereas five out of five would be non-weight bearing, with differing severities in-between.

The typical horse that shows you early signs of lameness will have something that is obvious. When they trot off, basically, they will have a nod when they trotting. Meaning they will land harder on the non-effected leg bearing most of the weight. When the effected leg has to bear weight they will lift their head up, so you see them do this, to get off the lameness. For left front obviously the opposite for right front.

Hind end lameness is, however, a lot more subtle. They take a much better trained eye. Some people will look at the lack of anterior stride, others will look at whether the hips are even or uneven. I think you have to look at a number of different things. Typically when a horse is short on a hind limb they tend to drop it in short order and they tend to take a lot more pressure on the opposite corner. You tend to see them being short on one and landing harder on the other coming off that. It will almost look, or mimic, the same side lameness in the front. You’ve got to look at symmetry, asymmetry, subtle lameness problems in the stall. A horse will point or rest a limb if it’s a hind limb, chronically. So these are all just routine, small things that you need to look at for the most early subtle changes. The earlier you get to it the better and the better off you’re going to be as far as the outcome is concerned.

ALEX: That’s the duty of the horse owner is to look for these subtle changes if being in the stall, checking the horse’s legs for any type of inflammation or heat, seeing when they walk, when they are riding them. If they feel any changes what-so-ever that’s indicative that could be a major or more serious problem coming on.

STEVE: Most definitely could be something early on, the earlier the better. So remember we are always pushing preventative versus restorative medicine. You definitely want to be ahead of the curve, as far as preventative medicine.