with Britt Con­klin, DVM

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Britt Con­klin is an equine vet­eri­nar­ian who is em­ployed by Boehringer-In­gel­heim (the largest equine an­i­mal health provider in the world) and owns a Sports Medicine and Po­di­a­try prac­tice near Amar­illo, Texas. This is the sec­ond in­stall­ment of his TR-- ex­clu­sive se­ries on per­for­mance horse pain man­age­ment.

In our pre­vi­ous is­sue, we dis­cussed the con­cept of pain in your per­for­mance horse. Be­cause the horse does not have the abil­ity to self re­port, we—as horse own­ers—are at a dis­ad­van­tage in ac­cu­rately lo­cal­iz­ing those sources of pain. Pain may elicit be­hav­ioral, phys­i­o­log­i­cal, or gait ab­nor­mal­i­ties de­pend­ing on its ori­gin and its sever­ity, and this is typ­i­cally what we pick up on when we be­come aware that some­thing is wrong.

Lame­ness is­sues can man­i­fest into ob­vi­ous gait ab­nor­mal­i­ties that may be easy to see, but find­ing out ex­actly where on the leg the prob­lem is can be a chal­lenge. Phys­i­o­log­i­cal ab­nor­mal­i­ties like sweat­ing and rapid breath­ing with a se­vere colic are easy to iden­tify, but de­ter­min­ing what struc­tures in the ab­domen are af­fected can also be a chal­lenge. Ad­di­tion­ally, dif­fi­culty can arise when sub­tle pain is only man­i­fested in a re­duc­tion of per­for­mance or in just a be­hav­ioral re­sponse. The horse with mild hock sore­ness may never present with an ob­vi­ous gait ab­nor­mal­ity, but may not fire out of the box, run or face nor­mally, and may even de­velop a neg­a­tive at­ti­tude re­lated to that source of pain. There­fore, the ul­ti­mate goal with any painful or per­for­mance-limiting is­sue is to ob­tain an ac­cu­rate di­ag­no­sis that pin­points the lo­ca­tion of the prob­lem and its sever­ity so that it can be treated ap­pro­pri­ately. While this may seem el­e­men­tary, a large por­tion of the equine re­tail mar­ket is built on pre­vent­ing, en­hanc­ing, sup­port­ing, sup­ple­ment­ing, mod­i­fy­ing, or treat­ing per­for­mance-limiting is­sues

By Britt Con­klin, DVM

Part 2: Di­ag­nos­ing the prob­lem area—the lame horse.

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