SPOT­TING FRONTLIMB LAME­NESS

EQUUS - - Eq Tack & Gear -

The indi­ca­tor of lame­ness that is eas­i­est to see is the head bob. In sound horses, the head will move up and down slightly twice dur­ing each trot stride. It is up dur­ing the swing phase and down dur­ing the stance phase of each front limb. In a sound horse the mo­tion of the head and neck will be sym­met­ric for both sides.

A “head bob” is of­ten seen when this mo­tion is asym­met­ric be­tween the two front limbs and ex­ag­ger­ated down­ward on the sound leg. This is typ­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with front-limb lame­ness. Most peo­ple with mod­er­ate horse ex­pe­ri­ence can de­tect a bob, but that only tells you that a some­thing is wrong. You have to understand why and how the bob is hap­pen­ing to uti­lize it as an in­dic­tor of which limb is the prob­lem.

Es­sen­tially, when a horse is bob­bing his head, he lifts it just be­fore the painful leg lands. He uses the con­sid­er­able weight of his head and neck to shift his weight and to keep it off the sore limb as much as he can. The down mo­tion on the sound leg is ex­ag­ger­ated be­cause this limb is ac­cept­ing greater weight bear­ing. We use the phrase “down on sound” to re­mem­ber this re­la­tion­ship, but some­times the “up” is the only thing you’ll see.

A sound horse jog­ging on a longe line will

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