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March 01, 2009 | | Comments 1

Lameness Therapies for Horses

Causes and Symptoms of Lameness

You should understand that you can’t just jump into lameness therapies for horses once you suspect that your horse is lame. Part of finding the right therapeutic approach is knowing more about horse lameness.

Inspecting for Horse Lameness

Inspecting for Horse Lameness

First of all, it is important to spot the right symptoms. Recognizing the right signs and symptoms will help you determine if your horse is indeed lame or is suffering from some other condition. Different horses may show slightly different signs. In general though, a lame horse will move differently from the way it usually does. When it stands still, it may try to relieve the pain on the lame leg by standing less on it. It may also show that it is in pain by bobbing its head while moving.

Once you suspect that your horse is lame, the next step is to find out why. There are a number of possible causes of lameness. It can be due to an infection, a traumatic injury, muscle strain or arthritis. Knowing the exact cause is important because this is how you will know how to treat the condition. Treating the underlying condition in the most appropriate manner will ensure proper healing.

General Therapies

Lameness therapies for horses should be specific to the condition that has caused the lameness. Here are some possible therapeutic techniques to consider.

  • Acupuncture- This is an alternative form of treatment that originated in ancient China. It traditionally uses acupuncture needles on specific points to open pathways and return balance to the horse’s systems. Modern research has found out that this method can induce relaxation through the release of endorphins.
  • Rest and Exercise- This is among the most logical of all lameness therapies for horses. When a limb is lame, a good strategy is to simply keep it out of action. At the same time though, there are some mild exercises designed to both reduce the negative impact of lameness and ensure that the horse is not further weakened by inactivity.
  • Medication- Horses suffering from lameness may also be given medication. Mild cases may be resolved by regular anti inflammatory drugs while more severe cases may require corticosteroids. A horse that has an infection or is suffering from arthritis may need medication that is specifically intended for such conditions.
  • Cold and Hot Packs- Just like humans, lame horses may benefit from ice and/or hot packs. Some horse owners may prefer using cold compresses alone while others may alternate cold and hot compresses. These will help reduce swelling and promote proper blood circulation.

There are many other possible lameness therapies for horses. This is why there is absolutely no reason not to have your lame horse treated. Be very vigilant and watchful though. If you suspect that your horse’s lameness is caused by a severe underlying condition, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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  1. Ruling out a trauma injury (kick, puncture, bite, etc) it is almost always a hoof balance issue (too long toe, low heel, high heel, ingrown bar, flare aggrivation, or deep heel thrush infection). Frequent visits by your farrier/trimmer can keep these under control and spot problems before they render your horse lame. They may not look like they need to be done on the outside, but changes can be happening inside that shoe yes, something needs adjusting (either in the trim, diet, environment, etc) to head off a problem.

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