The Lameness Scale

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The Lameness Scale

This is a discussion on The Lameness Scale within the Horse Talk forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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    06-29-2013, 06:35 PM
Question The Lameness Scale

I'm just curious. People always say you will never find a "perfect" horse. Does that include perfect soundness? I was told about the Lameness Scale that ranges from 1-5 with 5 being "Minimal weight bearing in motion and/or at rest; inability to move" and 1 being "Difficult to observe; not consistently apparent regardless of circumstances (weight carrying, circling, inclines, hard surfaces, etc.) ."

So would you ever buy a horse that is a grade 1 in one hock (all other legs entirely perfect)? Is there chance for improvement with more consistent work?

Also, I heard of a horse being turned away by potential buyers because the horse's growth plate hadn't closed. Don't hock growth plates close around 6? And would an open growth plate cause lameness or limitations? I've done research on the knees because my former horse was back at the knee, but I don't know much with the hock.

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    06-30-2013, 11:31 PM
Depends on what I am doing, I would just play around a bit and see what helped the horse, but I would only buy a horse knowing he has some unsoundness if I was perfectly content with him being a pasture pet.

As to growth plates, the typical age is 5-7, (typically a little later in warmbloods) to my limited knowledge.... Also, the knees and the back is normally the last to close. I don't get why you would turn a horse away with open growth plates, unless you were looking for a horse to get into something demanding right away, which you shouldn't expect anyways. Growth plates will close. Working a horse to hard when his joints (and growth plates) haven't "fused" together can lead to unsoundness. I know a Thoroughbred who has severe hock arthritis at age 5 from being jumped a lot at age 3. If you have a lot of money and want to get into training your horse up into higher levels in any discipline, you can have x rays done to track the horse's growth plates so you don't demand to much at a young age and possibly ruin his career. So, yes, open growth plates do put limitations on your work, if you are a responsible horse owner. Nothing is stopping you from jumping your 6 year old warmblood at level 7 in showjumping in your field, but your horse will be suffering later on in life!
    07-01-2013, 02:19 AM
I'd never buy an unsound horse on any level.
    07-01-2013, 12:40 PM
I forgot I initially posted this thread on Horse Talk. I posted the same thing in Horse Health.

I think the people initially looking at this horse were wanting a mount that they could readily compete at high levels with due to her pedigree and whatnot. The mare's dam had the same problem - her growth plate in her hock closed later than usual but still closed in the end. This mare has had 90 days of training that has sort of been spread out. Started at 4 and was ridden occasionally, then trained again at 5 with sporadic riding. Now she is 6.

Here's the reason I was posting about this:
Well, I just bought a horse - gorgeous Oldenburg mare by Rosenthal and out of a Wolkenstein II mare. She's never taken a lame step but in one video from last year a friend of mine said her left hind leg didn't track as well. I think it just wasn't touching down entirely in-sync but it isn't obvious. I don't see it but I stink at judging videos unless it is a more obvious issue. I usually miss the really subtle things. I rode her, tried her out, etc. and she was perfect. Showed the videos to my friend and she said the mare looked great.

Well, the owner said upfront that the mare's left hock growth plate was open when they last had x-rays done but that was the only blemish. So I had the vet come out to perform a PPE. She passed with flying colors - reproduction organs, heart/lungs, body scale, conformation, etc. Then we did the flexion test. Halfway through it (she had only done the right side) the horseflies started really going after the mare so she wasn't standing still anymore since they were chomping on her (she had blood spots by the end of it all). We were slapping them off left and right. Every leg was perfect. The vet flexed the left hind last and it supposedly wasn't as great for a few steps. Supposedly she was initially hesitant putting it down as she lurched forward again from the flies but then quickly put weight on it and trotted down the length of the ring no problem.
The vet said all were perfect but the left hock was a 1 on the scale, but that the mare is sound. I just don't know if it can be totally accurate considering how the flies were effecting her (she would buck a smidge but never maliciously toward us).

Nonetheless, if her riding career ended, she would be an ideal broodmare - the vet and owner said. Her foals, due to pedigree alone, would be worth $12k+.

I think this is the video my friend claimed there was a step difference:


And here are videos from when I visited her and tried her out. I recommend muting the video unless you want to hear my mom talking and dogs barking.

In this video you can skip through the first 5+ minutes. Did a lot of walking because, since this was her first ride in a while, she felt like a firecracker ready to go at first haha

Others from this forum have looked at the videos as well and see no issues.

Here's one of her jumping from 2 years ago. I feel like she isn't even trying though so it doesn't look the greatest haha:

    07-02-2013, 11:04 AM
Bump :)
    07-02-2013, 06:22 PM
A six year old unsound horse makes me go eeehhh. I would find out for sure why she is lame. It could be growing pains but if a horse is lame because of a flaw than it really should not be bred in my book. If its lame because of some mysterious thing, ie not growing pains, no traumatic injury its just lame than its too much of a wonky bet to make with a foaling. What is the use of a 12k foal out of mare that was broken down at 8? Unless said mare had done really really well in a chosen discipline.

You can make her sound with hock injections but realistically you are starting those at 6 and after two a year for a few years you may not get the same results. I would do a more through ppe and have the vet take current, recent xrays. Than I would seriously consider what I planned to do with her. If it was jumping, eventing, reining, endurance or high level dressage I would pass on this mare. If you want a nice pleasure horse or a horse for low level dressage than yeah, but if you want that you could probably save a pretty penny and buy something that's sound and able to do those things but is not a warmblood.

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