What do you think of these lameness figures? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 28 Old 01-25-2012, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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What do you think of these lameness figures?

So, I was revising for my physical therapies exam today when I came across these figures in a powerpoint from one of these lectures. I thought they were pretty interesting, and I thought I'd see what your opinions of them were:

Of the 122 million equines worldwide no more than 10% are clinically sound. 10% (12.2 million) are clinically, completely & unusably lame. The remaining 80% (97.6 million) of these equines are somewhat lame, and could not pass a soundness evaluation or test.

(Walt Taylor, co-founder of the American Farriers Association & member of the World Farriers Association. [American Farriers Journal, Nov./2000 v. 26 #6, p.5])


Now, I think these are pretty controversial, as I would think that most of us would like to think our horses are all completely sound, wouldn't you?
I suppose, if we take into account horses in third world countries/in the wild etc. that would take up a big chunk, but not 80%, surely?
Just something to chew over, I suppose.
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post #2 of 28 Old 01-25-2012, 12:00 PM
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I seriously doubt that your average vet would fail 80% of horses that come in for a soundness exam. I've not heard of very many horses that fail soundness exams. Many horse sales have a vet present to exam and "sift" the lame horses. Even at these sales only about 10% of the horses fail due to unsoundness.

Also I would bet that there is less unsoundness in horses in third world countries than there is here. For one the people USE thier horses so if they are lame thier livelyhood may be in danger. Horses are kept moving and are not overwieght generally. The slower a horses hoof grows the stronger it is. Overwiegth, overfed horses grow hoof too fast and are more apt to have problems with them. Also if a horse comes up lame and doesn't get over it pretty soon it may end up as dinner.

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post #3 of 28 Old 01-25-2012, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kevinshorses View Post
I seriously doubt that your average vet would fail 80% of horses that come in for a soundness exam. I've not heard of very many horses that fail soundness exams. Many horse sales have a vet present to exam and "sift" the lame horses. Even at these sales only about 10% of the horses fail due to unsoundness.

Also I would bet that there is less unsoundness in horses in third world countries than there is here. For one the people USE thier horses so if they are lame thier livelyhood may be in danger. Horses are kept moving and are not overwieght generally. The slower a horses hoof grows the stronger it is. Overwiegth, overfed horses grow hoof too fast and are more apt to have problems with them. Also if a horse comes up lame and doesn't get over it pretty soon it may end up as dinner.

I agree with you about the average vet failing 80%, which is why I was surprised when I saw these stats. Obviously these are only what one person has found, and are bound to be biased/flawed in some way, which is why I put them up for discussion really, I was looking for opinions like yours.

You make a valid point about the horses in third world countries - I suppose when I wrote that, I was thinking about the Brooke adverts and suchlike, which present that type of horse as ALWAYS sickly and injured, where I suppose, most of them are in fact not, because as you said, many people's livelihoods depend on them.

Thanks for your input!
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post #4 of 28 Old 01-25-2012, 12:36 PM
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Wow those are some crazy stats... And I personally don't see where the stats come from haha.
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post #5 of 28 Old 01-25-2012, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mystykat View Post
Wow those are some crazy stats... And I personally don't see where the stats come from haha.
They came from Walt Taylor, co-founder of the American Farriers Association & member of the World Farriers Association. [American Farriers Journal, Nov./2000 v. 26 #6, p.5]

But no, I agree, they're pretty radical, which is why I posted them up for discussion.
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post #6 of 28 Old 01-25-2012, 12:53 PM
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I agree completely.80% of horses would not pass a rigorous exam looking for "perfection". There are different grades of passing a vet exam - the horse may be pleasure sound, sound for lower levels, sound but not for speed events or jumping, etc, etc.

Only 10% of horses would pass an exam well enough to be deemed around enough for continued use at the high levels of horse sport, and that can change month to month for each horse. The high level of work can quickly deteriorate their condition.

I will add to this on my computer...
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post #7 of 28 Old 01-25-2012, 01:05 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~ View Post
I agree completely.80% of horses would not pass a rigorous exam looking for "perfection". There are different grades of passing a vet exam - the horse may be pleasure sound, sound for lower levels, sound but not for speed events or jumping, etc, etc.

Only 10% of horses would pass an exam well enough to be deemed around enough for continued use at the high levels of horse sport, and that can change month to month for each horse. The high level of work can quickly deteriorate their condition.

I will add to this on my computer...
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Thanks for the input, this is what I was looking for, all the different opinions from different levels of owners/riders from different disciplines.
I just found it when I was revising and was like "wowzers, that's a fairly big number!". I'm glad you found it interesting
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post #8 of 28 Old 01-25-2012, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by IndiesaurusRex View Post
Thanks for the input, this is what I was looking for, all the different opinions from different levels of owners/riders from different disciplines.
I just found it when I was revising and was like "wowzers, that's a fairly big number!". I'm glad you found it interesting
I might even consider the 10% "completely sound" figure to be high!!

Here's a bit more what I am thinking, I couldn't really type it out on my phone...

When you vet a horse, you typically tell the vet "I want to do low level eventing" or whatever and they will go and do a flexion test, evaluate the horse moving, palpate the joints/ligaments/tendons and maybe take a few X-rays and then say "yep the horse should stay sound for jumping under a meter, galloping and low level dressage work" for one horse or "the horse has the beginnings of ringbone/arthritis (or whatever) and will require fairly invasive management to stay sound while jumping" for another.
Another person might say "I want a calm, quiet, educated horse as my first horse to teach me how to ride", the vet exam might consist of flexions, joint palpations and a visual exam of the horse moving. If the arthritic changes were visible enough on the theoretical second horse with the less rigorous exam the vet would probably say "the horse is showing the beginnings of some arthritis, but should stay sound for a number of years if you don't jump him vigorously" (a vet wont tell you how to make your decision, only the implications and then you have to make the decision - this happened to me when I was buying my first horse and I decided to buy him. I did a bit of everything with him for years and he was totally sound for my purpose, as an eventer he would have gone lame).

Had someone approached the same first horse (the one deemed sound for low levels) and said "I want to buy this horse as a CCI4* prospect" the vet would evaluate the horse using all the above mentioned methods and then do full x-rays, bone scan problem areas and do as much diagnostic testing as the prospective owner wants to pay for to figure out how sound the horse is, really. When you are going over a horse with such a fine toothed come, you are going to find issues. Then you have to decide if reduced bone density in the lower joints of the left hock (for example) is something that you want in your eventer. Fill him up with Tildren maybe?? And if that doesn't work you're into stem cells, joint injections and lots and lots of Adequan to keep the issue at bay.
The other thing that I think a lot of people don't realize, I think, is the shear amount of maintenance that goes into these high level horses at the CDIs and CCIs, etc.. I know the dressage horses in Florida right now doing their qualifications for the Olympics are on as much as an injection of Adequan every two days, constantly. That's about $400 a week (self administered!), all the way up to the Olympics!!! The horses are CONSTANTLY examined by vets (every week at the least) and the farrier work down there is just crazy, every few weeks some of the horses are getting re shod to maintain perfect angles in the hooves. If you were to take away the Adequan and other supportive care drugs like Legend, Tildren etc.., not have the vet looking at the horse constantly and leave the trim cycles at 8 weeks I'm willing to bet that very few horses on that circuit would be able to pass a flexion test after the same degree of training they are experiencing now after a few trim cycles. In 6 months I'm willing to bet there would be arthritic changes and in 1 to 2 years most of the top horses now would be retired out to pasture because of lameness.


So, how sound is sound, really?? I would say that there are very few horses in the world, even out of the ones competing at the upper levels, that would pass a vet check for an "upper level horse" or "upper level prospect". Many of the horses with the reduced bone density in their left hock are infact eventers, or dressage horses, or jumpers, etc... but it's because the condition is managed carefully that the horse appears to the outside world to be "sound". Vet 100 Grand Prix dressage horses and I bet you only a handful have clean X-rays.

They say money doesn't buy happiness -- well happiness doesn't buy horses!

Last edited by ~*~anebel~*~; 01-25-2012 at 02:26 PM.
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post #9 of 28 Old 01-25-2012, 07:01 PM
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Very good point. I was thinking of your average vet exam but I guess it's just like anything else if you dig long enough and look hard enough you'll eventually find something wrong.

There's nothing like the Rockies in the springtime... Nothing like the freedom in the air... And there ain't nothing better than draggin calves to the fire and there's nothing like the smell of burning hair. -Brenn Hill
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post #10 of 28 Old 01-25-2012, 07:12 PM
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It's a statistic that is out of context. Sound for what? Like others said, a horse presented to the vet for trail riding will most likely be passed. Present that same horse for preliminary eventing and it will more likely fail. Did the study mention any particular level of work?

You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.
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