Poll Recap: Equine Lameness Concerns

Of the 755 respondents, 209 (28%) said foot-related lameness is their biggest equine lameness concern.

Photo: Kevin Thompson/The Horse

Lameness is a term that can make any horse owner grimace. It can happen to any horse in various forms and severity, ranging from something as small as a sole bruise to more complex issues like laminitis and sacroiliac disease. Some types of lameness can put your horse out of commission for a couple of days, while others might be career-ending. So we wanted to know: What equine lamenesses concern you the most?

We posed this question to our readers in last week’s online poll. We received more than 750 responses, and we’ve tallied the results!

Of the 755 responses, 209 people (28%) said equine foot-related lameness is their biggest concern, while 135 respondents (18%) are most concerned about hock lameness in their horses. Another 120 individuals (16%) listed ankle, pastern, and fetlock lameness as their main concerns. Some 82 respondents (11%) said their biggest concern is equine back and neck lameness, and 49 people (6%) found equine knee lameness most concerning. Another 59 respondents (8%) had “other” equine lameness concerns, and the remaining 101 respondents (13%) said they have no equine lameness concerns because their horses are sound.

Additionally, more than 75 people explained their equine lameness concerns:

Several respondents mentioned their concerns for lower leg lameness in their horses:

  • “My mare has high ringbone, but we seem to be managing pretty well.”
  • “One has angular limb deformity of pastern and the 7-year-old has swollen joint capsules in hocks.”
  • “Tendons.”
  • “My recumbent yearling’s knee injured by his dam stepping on it.”
  • “I have a 15-year-old with ringbone and a 17-year-old with an old tendon injury.”
  • “He raced until until he was 9 years old. At 21, he has a damaged knee.”
  • “My 27-year-old Thoroughbred has a subluxated right pastern. It’s a lot of work keeping him comfortable.”
  • “Tendons and ligaments.”
  • “My horse has a history of a suspensory injury. Always cautious!”
  • “Bowed tendon.”

Others shared their biggest equine foot lameness concerns:

  • “White line disease.”
  • “My horses are barefoot so I am always managing their feet.”
  • “My horse has navicular and a laminated and rotating pedal bone but is still mostly sound and in gentle work.”
  • “Laminitis.”
  • “Feet, but only because they require regular maintenance..”
  • “My horse has club feet, so feet are my biggest concern.”
  • “My horse has had navicular for 12 years. At 27 arthritis is a major concern. Slow warm-ups and light work to keep him going.”
  • “She has bilateral club feet, so frequent farrier visits and care taken to keep her sound.”
  • “Laminitis from Cushing's disease.”
  • “White line disease and laminitis.”

Some respondents also commented about hind limb lameness concerns:

  • “My 16-year-old is very sound now, but hocks are the concern as she ages.”
  • “Stifles.”
  • “SI issues.”
  • “Hips.”
  • “Stifle arthritis.”
  • “She is sound but has always had a creaking sound in her stifles.”
  • “My young, but permanently retired, mare suffers from a subchondral cystic lesion of the stifle.”
  • “Stifles and SI issues.”
  • “The hip and coxofemoral joint. There's very little info out there and I’ve seen it more than once.”

A few individuals shared other equine lameness concerns not mentioned:

  • “Obscure lameness as the result of tick-borne disease.”
  • “My 28-year-old mare has generalized arthritis with many creaky joints.”
  • “Shoulder injury.”
  • “Instability in limbs.”
  • “Shoulders.”
  • “Compensation for bad hocks causing back pain.”

Some respondents shared details about their horses’ condition and lameness concerns:

  • “I have a 12-year-old Thoroughbred with life-long problems.”
  • “The mare I ride is sound, but my older girl has navicular issues. I don't ride her. She's retired.”
  • “I have had my horse for 19 years (since she was a foal) and she's been sound up until last year!”
  • “After racing for five years and at age 21, they're all a concern for my gelding!”
  • “My gelding has typical OTTB feet.”
  • “The pony has hock issues, the mare has ankle/pastern problems, and baby has none!”
  • “Current horse is a sound 4-year-old. Previous horses had fetlock, hock, and back/neck injuries over many years.”
  • “I have ponies, none have foundered!”

And others left general comments:  

  • “My OTTB does a good job of staying sound, but I don't take any chances! Same with my Mustang mare.”
  • “All and more! Never know on a given day, month, or year what challenge may come up! They are horses!”
  • “Mare and gelding both sound. But always concerned with keeping them that way!"
  • “None, thankfully, but as he ages, I've become concerned about arthritis.”
  • “It's hard to find a good farrier where I live.”
  • “I strive to maintain 100% soundness in all areas. They're seniors and deserve the best!”
  • “I've been very lucky. My horses have very sturdy conformation and no history of lameness.”

You can find additional information on how to catch and address a lameness problem early, common lower limb lamenesses in horses, 10 early warning signs of laminitis, methods for diagnosing leg lameness, sacroiliac joint pain in horses, how veterinarians detect upper body issues, and more at TheHorse.com

This week, we want to know: do you have an evacuation plan in place for your horses in case of natural disaster? Vote now and tell us why or why not at TheHorse.com/polls

The results of our weekly polls are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters on our homepage and look for a new poll on TheHorse.com.

About the Author

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer, is a lifelong horse owner who competes with her Appaloosas in Western performance events. She is a University of Kentucky graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in Community Communications and Leadership Development, and master's degree in Career, Technical, and Leadership Education. She currently lives on a small farm in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

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