Lameness can present itself in a number of different ways
and for different reasons;
There is more that one area of pain The horses performance
drops The horse shows behavioral changes
Sometimes assessment of the problem can be challenging if
there is no clear reason for the change / drop in performance
and associated lameness. Knowing the history of the horse
can greatly assist in the diagnosis of the problem. The horses
training schedule, length of time taken to reach levels of
fitness and types of exercises will help to determine what
types of strains and stresses muscles etc, have been put under.
When assessing the horse the main aims are to determine whether
the problem relates to;
Young horses often show signs of weaknesses possibly relating
to being tired. Training programs for youngsters should be
relative to growth rate.
Poor shoeing can lead to bilateral foot pain, fetlock pain,
hock pain, carpal pain, thoracic lumbar pain, sacroilliac
pain, tying up.
Good shoeing can assist horses with some minor problems stated
above, when they perform.
A poorly skilled rider can hinder horses when e.g. jumping
poor eye coming into a jump can cause a greater strain on
horses’ muscles / ligaments / joints. This can cause tying
up due to weaknesses from this.
Horse problems sometimes the horse is just not skilled enough,
suitable or has the right temperament for the discipline it
is being ridden in.
Show Jumping and Dressage.
Subtle lameness may only slightly impede the horse’s performance
and as many injuries tend to be repetitive, accumulating over
time. Many trainers prefer to wait until the end of the season
to investigate fully into the cause and future treatments.
As the season ends and workloads reduce the demands on horses
become less, the lameness seen at the height of competition
season may be seen less, affecting the horse less.
Conformation has a clear impact on injury. Foot balance is
essential for this discipline and despite a good farrier being
able to shoe to accommodate for problems that may be evident.
If a horse has an upright foot concussion related problems
can occur more frequently.
When training Show Jumpers engagement and collection is required
however this can accelerate problems in the thoracic lumbar
region as it puts a lot more stress and strain on the area.
Forelimbs will be constantly put under a lot of impact pressures,
a good rider that stays stable and with a good center of balance
will prevent the horse from having to cope with uneven weights
as they regain position after a jump.
The experience and strength of the horse will, if not suitable
for the job, hinder the horse, causing more stresses and strains
as it jumps incorrectly due to tiredness and fatigue. The
training surface needs to be considered carefully to help
rather that slow down the training of the horse. Too hard
and concussions can occur, too deep and suspensory injuries
can occur. Joint, bone, foot bruising, inflammation of these
areas and hoof wall problems are all common when horses are
ridden on unsuitable surfaces.
When training Dressage horses training schedules are often
dependent on the horse’s age. The dressage horse will spend
a lot of time in the arena performing a lot of gymnastic exercises.
Injuries and lameness are often tissue specific rather than
concussive. The dressage horse needs to spend a lot of time
working towards strengthening in order to not fatigue when
performing difficult weight bearing movements. Desmitis in
the hind limbs can occur due to the transfer of weight between
front and hind limbs if the horse has not built up enough
strength. Acute injuries are not often seen, instead, due
to the repetitive nature of the training, it is these types
of lamenesses that can occur. As the horse spends so long
working in the arena, the surface is so important. Consistency
and levelness across the entire surface must be maintained.
It is worth considering that constant work on a soft surface
as found in arena will not stimulate remodeling within the
horses bones, important for strength. Training should incorporate
work on hard ground occasionally to achieve this. Caution
should be taken though not to shock the horse.
Author Resource:-> Tammy is a passionate horse rider
who loves to advertise the best ways to be looking after horses.
Tammy works part time for http://anythingequine.co.uk