Assessing the Horse.
Jack Millman CJF,DWCF
Pelvic Limbs Propel the Horse Forward Providing the Ability to
Maintain Lightness in the Forehand!
this basic fact will force you to be aware of the morphologic stance
as well as the dynamic movement when evaluating a horse for proper
Most of us, Farriers and
Veterinarians and Caregivers/Owners tend to be afflicted by a
certain amount of tunnel vision when confronted by a lame horse. We
tend to concentrate on the chief complaint, the lameness as
described by the client and or demonstrated by the horse. We tend
not to look for the less than obvious underlying cause.
Since most lameness occurs in the
front legs, or are at least most evident in the front legs, we tend
to ignore the hind end as a possible cause when assessing and
addressing the problem.
The first step I use in evaluating a
horse is observation from a distance. By standing ten or twelve feet
from the horse I can observe his stance and assess his body
language. This approach says that the horse will show you
indications of discomfort by how he positions his body and places
his legs to support himself.
The horse’s primary directive is to
go forward. Observing a horse in a comfortable relaxed position
should give the impression of a horse capable of going forward. His
front legs are squarely under him and his hind legs are positioned
under the hips. This is what can be described as a “balanced” horse.
I use the term balance as defined by Hayden Price “balance being a
harmony of parts”. This means that when observing the horse or in
fact any of his parts they should appear to be made up of parts that
go together. Nothing awkward or out of place.
Now, begin to assess the horse,
develop a physical picture in your mind. At the same time you can
use you your experience and skills of observation to develop a word
picture. The mnemonic I developed in a previous article is useful
here this memory aide, S.O.U.N.D, will allow you to describe your
assessment so that it can be communicated to the Owner/Caregiver and
Your first step in developing a plan
for the horse should follow a regular pattern so that you don’t miss
any part of your assessment.
Observe the horse and his environment.
Look for signs of discomfort.
Discuss the signs and symptoms with the owner or
Discuss the options available
Develop a plan
Execute the plan
Always be prepared to adjust or change you plan
Establishing the best available
information and good communication between the Owner, the Farrier
and the Veterinarian are of prime importance for the wellbeing of
Jack Millman Farrier Service
295 Old Post Road
Worthington, MA 01098