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Lameness & poor performance
There are many causes of lameness and poor performance. No news there! The trick of course is to get to the CAUSE or causes and not to just cover up the problem. Ask any Vet what the most common reason for veterinary referral is and it is likely to be something to do with locomotion. It is not always an easy task in human athletes working out the root cause of locomotion problems but at least you can ask them. Clearly you can't ask a horse so we need to learn to read the signs as well as just following basic good practice (see below for a list of other things you can do to help yourself). The problem with lameness is that the horse's nature is to hide the fact. Ask 10 vets and you probably get 10 different answers. Something is wrong with this lack of consensus in assessing the root cause of locomotion problems. It tells me that there is too much guess work going on. What I do know is that as a human athlete all of the issues I ever had were to do with soft tissues and then almost always my muscles and this is the approach we use with horses. But don't take my word for it just ask Vigo who at the age of 3 as a top KWPN stallion was on the scrap heap until we found him and look where he is now. All that matters for us is results. We have many, many examples of horses like Vigo who we have helped. It probably sounds too good to be true. Your vet has given up, the alternative therapies don't work or at least not for long, why are YOU so different you say? Good question. Well, all I can say is CALL US today for a FREE assessment and let your horse show you where it is in pain.
We say, study your horse and go with your own gut feeling. Very often it is correct. Just like in humans a sore right ankle might be because I have a problem with my left shoulder (there is often a right/left fore/hind diagonal relationship in locomotion dysfunction). Nerve-blocking the ankle is of no help in sorting out the root cause in this instance. X-rays are a favourite too because you can see bones with x-rays but how often are bones the issue in humans? It's the same in horses. Look carefully at your horse and see what signs he is giving. It is possible to read the subtle signs a horse is giving to locate the source of pain. Get some books and videos on this and study them. It is amazing what you can learn from studying your own horse's movement. Tight circles in walk and trot on hard ground are particularly helpful in ascertaining where your horse is experiencing pain. Trust yourself!
There are a variety of things you can do yourself as well:
- Is your tack all in order? If you cannot do it get a professional to look at it. Does the saddle fit and is it in good condition? It is not uncommon for saddles to break and for a piece of the saddle to be sticking in the horse's back when you ride.
- Check his teeth. Are they in good order?
- When did you last worm your horse? Do a faecal worm count and worm her.
- Is your horse getting the right nutrients in its diet? Certain minerals, particularly vitamin E, are key to muscle health (see this article for further information on vitamins and muscle health). Particularly if you are not feeding any concentrate, make sure you feed a top quality supplement. Note that any changes to diet are likely only to be visible in the medium term (2-3 months we suggest).
- Riding. Have you asked someone to watch you ride to see if you and your horse are in balance? Read Dr Gerd Heuschmann's book on Balance.
- Training. Ask someone you trust and respect for some advice and insights on how you train your horse.
- Feet. Was your horse recently shoed? Check her feet thoroughly for signs of soreness, abscesses, nails etc.