Lameness is one of the most prevalent problems presented to equine veterinarians. The term is used to describe an abnormal gait or stance due to the animal feeling pain or experiencing a restriction in the normal range of movement caused by underlying mechanical or neurological problems. The pain or restriction can originate from any part of the body such as the hoof, the leg or neck. The degree of severity can vary from a mild change in gait to completely preventing the horse from using or bearing weight on the affected limb. Unfortunately, lameness is the primary reason that older horses are put down.
There are many reasons why a horse can become lame, but some of the most common reasons include:
Abscesses or bruises in the hoof
Back and neck problems
Degenerative joint diseases
Laminitis – inflammation of the soft tissue structures which attach the pedal bone to the hoof wall