Ask an Expert

Chronic Lameness

October 21, 2013

Solutions for a gelding who has exhibited signs of lameness for several years.


My new Quarter Horse has been lame for probably close to two years. He has had corrective shoeing, and the massage therapist has been out to see him once and will be out again. We have X-rays of his feet from December 2008. He is very overweight, which started after he went lame. I take full ownership of him next week, and I want to know what I should do. The shoes helped some, but the massage seemed to help more; however he is still lame. I plan on getting weight off of him by changing his diet, but I feel that I cannot exercise him since he is lame.


A member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners offers some advice:

The first thing I advise my clients when they start talking about buying a horse with a lameness problem is to not buy him. Horses get enough problems as it is; you do not need to start with one.

If he is already yours, you will need to have your veterinarian out to localize the source of lameness based on a physical and lameness examination that will include nerve blocks (a common procedure performed when the veterinarian numbs various areas of the limb to see if it will improve the lameness).

Once the lameness has been localized, you could have it imaged: X-rays and ultrasound are the first line of imaging, and if more is warranted, MRI or CT scans can be used.

With the diagnosis in hand, more pertinent advice can be offered.

Dr. Omar Maher of the New England Equine Medical & Surgical Center is a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.