How do you identify lameness?

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know Bast went to the vet on Tuesday. He’d been a little irregular for a week, and I was concerned enough to haul him up to Fair Hill for a full lameness exam. I’m going to get to the findings soon, but rest your mind that he’s not in serious condition and should be just fine. In the meantime, let’s take a minute to talk about identifying lameness.
Ugh. Lameness.
A group of bloggers and I recently talked about how our beliefs about lameness were hilariously wrong as a kid. As a group, we grew up thinking a horse’s lameness would be obvious, easily identified, and that you were an idiot to miss it. We also laughed at our younger selves, who thought the lameness would always be in the leg and we’d always be able to tell which leg was affected just by quickly looking or riding.

Guys. As an adult with a lot of experience with a lame horse, this is so funny to me.
How it often feels I'm trying to diagnose some kind of weirdness.
My experience with lameness is completely different. Unless the horse has an abscess or something acute, lameness seems to rarely be obvious or easily identified. It’s much more common for a horse to present with a multitude of mysterious symptoms. Mine also tend to exhibit mental stress way before physical issues become apparent. This makes it almost impossible to tell for awhile if what I'm feeling is training, tension, or actually some kind of lameness.

Bast helps me out. He's a complete wuss, and cannot handle pain in the slightest. Anything that bothers him is a huge issue. That makes it much easier to identify when things are cropping up. Meanwhile Pig ... he's basically unable to admit he feels poorly.
Pig. IRL.
That old horse is the most stoic of creatures. While that probably is a big reason he's still around and kicking (hard) at his age, it made it incredibly difficult to assess his soundness during his career. He taught me early that you really had to get to know your horse well to understand the difference between tension and him being "off". He also taught me that you might know when a horse was off, but be completely unable to identify which leg was actually the problem of the day.
Looking sound AF here...
Following in Pig's footsteps, Bast's first bout with lameness showed up really difficult to narrow down. Below is a video of Bast's movement on the day his irregularity became noticeable. Let's play a game. Watch the video and let me know what you see in the comments. I'll let you know next week what the vet found!

In the meantime, anyone else find your ideas of what lameness looks like and how it's found change as you've grown in your experience with horses?


  1. i see some mild hitching and toe dragging? Possibly SI and/or hocks? But also he looks fantastic regardless!

  2. i don't know, cut all the legs off and install bionic ones.

    I think it's something in the hocks... maybe?

  3. I see right hind and I say it's in the stifle

  4. Ooohhh bets. I am saying SI. I will say, I cheated a bit and watched some older videos of him too. What I see is he really wants to swing whatever leg is on the inside underneath himself instead of stepping straight through on it. You see this on and off in the video I watched (from June), but he almost never tracks his inside hind in the same track as his inside fore leg in the video. Back in Feb, he almost never did it. It seems to be fairly consistent on both side, pointing me to the SI.

    Granted, I am probably 100% wrong. For me, this would just be enough for me to say, Imma call the vet for a look. ;-)

  5. I see hind-end - toe-dragging.... maybe his back?

    The crazy thing is, he looks great. I honestly do not know if I would have noticed it. I mean, maybe?

  6. I see hind end lameness. You know whats a pretty cool IG account - The horse pt. She does a regular "guess the lameness post" You should submit yours!

  7. I’m seeing a hitch in the hind right leg. No clue what but he seems reluctant to leave weight on it

  8. I'm seeing unevenness & hopping when tracking left. So I would say left hind. Hock, stifle, or SI.

  9. Going out on a limb and gonna say right front!


Post a Comment