Lameness Exams

Most horses are utilized for some form of athletic pursuit. Whether it be racing, showing or pleasure riding, lameness can quickly make your horse unusable.

Lameness is most effectively treated when an accurate diagnosis is made early in the course of the disease and appropriate therapy is initiated rapidly. Many conditions that could be successfully treated early on, become chronic problems which are refractory to treatment if left too long.

There are a wide variety of treatments for lameness. It is essential to make a correct diagnosis before initiating treatment in order to maximize the chance of success. Whilst "shotgun therapy" is often employed, more often than not, this approach costs more in the long term and is often unsuccessful. 

There are no short cuts in diagnosing lameness. It can be time consuming and often requires several visits, especially if diagnostic nerve blocks are used to localize the source of pain. Many ancillary diagnostic modalities such as radiology, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography and nuclear scintigraphy can be used to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.

Both medical and surgical treatments may be effective in the treatment of lameness. It is essential that your veterinarian is familiar with all the treatments available for the various causes of lameness. It is equally important they understand what level of soundness your horse needs to achieve. A racehorse or top show horse needs to achieve a different level of soundness than the occasional pleasure mount.

It is also important that your veterinarian can maintain a good working relationship with your farrier. Shoeing is an integral factor in the treatment of many types of lameness and, all too often, vets and horse shoers fail to work well together! This is an important relationship in order to have a successful outcome.

Dr. MacNamara has been diagnosing and treating lameness in race and show horses for over 30 years. If you would like to schedule an appointment for a lameness evaluation, please call or email to make an appointment.