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  • The importance of assessing equine lameness on different surfaces

    Posted on by Abii Dowdy

    The following case is about a Warmblood mare working at Novice BD dressage level, progressing well.

    Earlier this year the owner became aware that something was not quite right with the mare, but there was no consistent obvious lameness, just the very occasional short stride.

    As the mare was progressing and responding well to her training the owner was keen to eliminate any potential problem that may get worse if she continued in work so she was presented for a lameness examination at our Towcester clinic.

    The benefits of being able to assess the horse under different conditions  and surfaces was exemplified in this case as no lameness could be seen in a straight line, following flexion tests, or on the soft surface lunge. It was only on the right rein on a firm lunge surface that a mild (1/10) left fore limb lameness was evident. The lameness was abolished following placement of a palmar digital nerve block; when local anaesthetic is placed over the nerves supplying sensation to the principle structures in the hoof.

    X-ray 1 is the lateromedial view of the left foot

    X-ray 2 is the dorsopalmar view of the left foot

    Radiographs of both front feet were taken and no bony abnormalities were detected.

    The mare was placed on a tapering course of NSAIDs (phenylbutazone) and re-shod to optimise the balance of the front feet. The mare was sound at her next re-examination, including during hard surface lunging and she was gradually returned to ridden exercise. Lameness re-occured shortly afterwards and further examination of potential soft tissue injuries within the hoof was recommended using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

    The results of the MRI scan showed fluid accumulation and inflammation within two of the five ligaments that support the lateral (outside) collateral cartilage of the hoof. (see MRI scan image).

    In the absence of any additional pathology the treatment for this injury was extended rest for a further six weeks an additional tapering course of NDSAIDs.

    An excellent recovery was made and the mare was completely sound after her rest period. She has continued to remain sound during the rehabilitation programme and is now out competing successfully again.