Lameness in Horses

image of a horse.

Horse lameness is a condition that occurs when a horse is unable to move normally. While the majority of horse lameness is related to the foot, this condition may be caused by problems in a horse’s bones, muscles, nerves, tendons or ligaments. Repetitive injuries, infection, poor nutrition, tooth problems, and founder (also known as laminitis) are the primary causes for horse lameness. It may occur gradually over time or suddenly with little warning. In some cases, lameness may resolve itself; however, veterinary intervention is often required to proactively treat this condition and prevent additional health problems.

Lameness is the most common cause of poor performance in sport horses. Diseases or injuries to the musculoskeletal system are a major cause for poor athletic performance. The age, breed and gender of a horse are also important. Certain causes for lameness are more likely to affect certain breeds and ages of horses. Past medical history is also important in a lameness evaluation.

An equine veterinarian is trained to diagnose and evaluate lameness in a horse. The more severely lame a horse is, the more noticeable this lameness will be in the horse’s walk. A horse will be evaluated at a trot (jog), which is the optimal gait for detecting lameness. A horse will be observed from both the front and the back while the horse is moving to detect lameness.

A veterinarian will evaluate the following:
• Amount of weight bearing
• Length of stride
• Flight and landing of feet
• Carriage of the head and neck

The American Association of Equine Practitioners rates horses on the following scale for lameness:
• 0: Not detectable under any circumstances
• 1: Difficult to observe and not consistently apparent
• 2: Difficult to observe at a walk or when trotting in a straight line, but noticeable under certain circumstances (e.g., circling, inclines, weight carrying)
• 3: Consistently observable at a trot under all circumstances.

Once a horse is diagnosed with lameness, the most effective treatment options are those that directly target the underlying cause for lameness. In general, this means reducing exercise and the weight of the horse. Medications for horse lameness are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications that fight pain and improve joint mobility. Some injectable medications are also available to protect joint cartilage and support normal joint fluid. Hoof supplements that contain biotin, zinc, copper, complete proteins, and Omega 3 fatty acids may also be beneficial, depending on the cause for lameness.

Source:
Moore, Rustin M. DVM, PhD, DACVS; Burba, Daniel J., DVM, DACVS. “Musculoskeletal Causes of Lameness and Poor Performance in Horses.” Louisiana State University, School of Veterinary Medicine.

Location

Find us on the map

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

7:30 am-5:30 pm

Tuesday:

7:30 am-8:00 pm

Wednesday:

7:30 am-5:30 pm

Thursday:

7:30 am-5:30 pm

Friday:

7:30 am-5:30 pm

Saturday:

Open 1st & 3rd Saturdays of each month. Closed 2nd & 4th Saturdays of each month.

8:00 am-2:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "We have a new 8 week Boston Terrier that we took to Springfield Vet yesterday for the first time. Absolutely pleased with the service, attitudes and genuine care shown to our little boy. The whole team was so professional, but took time to talk to you and explain everything. Dr Cynthia Wiseman is so wonderful, she sat in the floor did Logan's exam and played with him. What bedside manners. I will continue to use them, I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a caring and professional vet."
    Roi W.
  • "We absolutely love this vet clinic and the staff! The facilities are modern and always clean. Everyone is always so friendly and genuinely care for you and your animal- they make you feel as if you are apart of their family.

    Our boy, Samson, is a Rottie (and quite the problem child). We are usually in the clinic almost every other month for something and they are always so helpful and show great care and love for our pup! We are very picky/protective puppy parents, so we were very grateful to have found both Dr. Cynthia and Dr. Heath shortly after getting Samson.

    We have definitely found our "home" in the vet world, and would highly recommend to anyone who is currently looking!"
    Machaelie H.
  • "I have taken my dog here since he was a puppy. The staff are so friendly and caring, a very clean place and they always get us in quickly. When we come in no one passes us without greeting my dog and I and they're never in a rush to get us out of there."
    ShealynR.
  • "We decided to start taking our new kitty here this past fall and we love it! He was not on his best behavior (to say the least) for his first appointment, and the staff was so patient and was still able to safely run his bloodwork and give him his vaccinations. Every service has been reasonably priced, and they did everything they possibly could to make sure that our little guy was off to a healthy start after we adopted him. What I love is that they really seem to focus on the small details, too, like trimming our cat's nails after remembering that I had expressed interest in doing so at a previous appointment, or supplementing his flea treatment with something to safely speed up the process. We will definitely keep coming here as long as we live in Springfield!"
    Megan J.
  • "I have been taking my dog to SVC since 2012 and when I adopted my cat in 2015. I have never had a bad experience. We have seen Drs. Heath & Cynthia Wiseman and I love them both. Always professional, always take their time when looking my pets over, asking questions, and answering mine."
    Katherine P.
  • "We’ve been taking our Moose there for a few years now. After swallowing a toy when he was a puppy, getting fixed, having surgery on his eyelids a couple times, and most recently having a breed specific illness; I can I say I would recommend everyone to go here. They’ve taken the best care of our boy time and time again and went above and beyond."
    Ashley J.
  • "We’ve been taking our Moose there for a few years now. After swallowing a toy when he was a puppy, getting fixed, having surgery on his eyelids a couple times, and most recently having a breed specific illness; I can I say I would recommend everyone to go here. They’ve taken the best care of our boy time and time again and went above and beyond."
    Ashley J.
  • "Pleasant staff.,very informative. Great environment for your pets, including own room for cats to play so as they aren't stressed out."
    Cheryl K.
  • "Dr. Cynthia Wiseman has helped my little Shiba dog with chronic hip problems tremendously with consistent acupuncture therapy! So thankful for this practice and the high quality of care they offer my pets!"
    Lacey M.