To figure out on which leg a horse is limping... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 08-04-2011, 09:44 AM Thread Starter
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Question To figure out on which leg a horse is limping...

Just wondering how do you do it?
I was taught to watch the head movement, but does it always work? I mean if head moves normaly then horse definitly isn't lame?
Does the head move differently if horse is limping on hind leg too?


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post #2 of 9 Old 08-04-2011, 10:18 AM
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Blantant issues - head bopping for a foreleg, hip dropping for a rear.

However subtle issues in the right hind can cause the horse to move oddly and appear off in the left front.

Those odd issues are frustrating and at the same time very interesting to diagnosis. We are very fortunate to have an FEI level lameness expert vet at our clinic.
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post #3 of 9 Old 08-04-2011, 10:35 AM
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Look for what leg is loaded more.

Watch their pasterns. The sound leg will be the leg that takes all the load. The pastern on the lame leg will not show any loading (or less loading).
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post #4 of 9 Old 08-04-2011, 02:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks :)

So it doesn't depend only on the head/hip dropping, if limping is not so noticable it's possible that there won't be head/hip dropping?

Last year I couldn't figure out which leg it was, because there was no unusual head/hip moving, but something didn't seem right... I helped myself with moving my legs in the same rythm as horse and then asking myself which leg hurts :P (I was trying to find out which leg is loaded less as Alwaysbehind said, but I can't do it just by watching)
I wondered if there was an easier to tell, but it doesn't seem so.


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post #5 of 9 Old 08-04-2011, 03:10 PM
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You really have to look at the whole package. Yes, hip dropping, head bobbing and all that give you an idea.

If you watch just their pasterns (when looking for loading) it is much easier than trying to watch the whole horse.
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post #6 of 9 Old 08-05-2011, 09:13 AM
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Another thing that makes lameness a bit tricky is if they have bilateral lameness. Navicular, arthritis, and OCD are just a few of many diseases that occur bilaterally and if the pain is approximately equal then you will be very hard pressed to see outright limping unless you do a nerve block on one leg. With this in mind trotting them on a hard, level surface on a stright away and on a circle (in both directions) can give you some hints as to what is happening.
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post #7 of 9 Old 08-05-2011, 10:48 AM
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You can also look at the limb flight, fetlock dropping, do flexion and extension tests (usually done by a vet) to exacerbate lameness.

The head bobbing can also be difficult as a horse can drop its head when the lame hind leg hits the ground (i.e. opposite to what happens with a front let).

One of the best things to do is take a video from as the horse is being trotted past you, away from you and towards you which then allows you to look in detail/over and over/slow motion to try and spot the lameness.
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post #8 of 9 Old 08-05-2011, 06:25 PM
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It's as much of an art as a science. In addition to the above, I'd like to add: listen. The horse will typically hit with a louder sound on the good leg, and be more ginger and quieter on the bad one.
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post #9 of 9 Old 08-05-2011, 10:59 PM
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I am not so good at the lameness diagnosis, but I look for the leg that moves faster. only in the case of unilateral lameness (one leg on one side) So , if right rear leg moves faster , then the left rear is likely the Off leg. He moves the one leg faster because he wants to get it back to taking weight as quick as possible so that he can reduce the amount of time that the bad leg must bear weight.
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