Lameness Problems in Gaited Horses, AAEP 2009

About 75 veterinarians gathered to discuss common lameness problems faced by gaited horses during the 2009 American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Convention.

Foot lameness was the first topic of discussion, especially the high heel/low toe problem. Solutions included shoeing changes, for example with a wedge under the low heel to match the high heel.

Another topic was suspensory desmitis and treatments currently used for treatment. Those included topical anti-inflammatories such as Surpass, injections, and shock wave.

The use of a check ligament desmotomy for correcting a club foot was debated. While veterinarians in the room felt the procedure could offer correction if it was an acquired club foot of short duration, it was of little value in older horses that had a club foot from birth.

For treating contracted heels the consensus was using frog support with the possible addition of heel springs (springs that force the heels apart with constant pressure).

Joint therapy for lameness in gaited horses was a hot topic. The veterinarians noted that the most common joints injected were hocks and stifles, with a variety of drugs used for those injections, including steroids (caution was advised when using high doses of triamcinolone, as it can result in steroid-induced laminitis, particularly in Morgan horses), hyaluronic acid (such as Hyalovet, HyVisc, and Hylartin-V), Adequan IA, IRAP, antibiotics (Amaikacin), topical (Surpass), and oral medications (such as Cosequin, GLC 5500).

Parenteral maintenance medications used for lameness included Adequan IM, Legend, and possibly polyglycan.

The veterinarians noted stifle lameness might result in compensatory forelimb lameness, which is unilateral at the pace and contralateral at the trot.

They stated MRI is very helpful with stifle lameness diagnosis, particularly with the source in the meniscus, medial pouch, or caused by subchondral bone edema.

Muscle disease is also a cause of lameness in gaited horses, including hamstring problems and high suspensory injuries. Thermography can be helpful with diagnosis of these problems.

This Table Topic was moderated by Scott Bennett, DVM, and Mike Harry, DVM, who wrote this report.

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