Elements of the exam
The physical exam should include a general health check and a thorough lameness evaluation. Depending on the extent of the
horse's activity, these exams should be scheduled at least two to four times annually.
Sample lameness examination report
The first exam technique is close observation, Mitchell explains. The practitioner should be observant—putting his or her
eyes and hands on the horse is essential. Detailed record keeping should document the lameness exam, which includes the following:
> Visual examination. Take notice of the horse's body symmetry and muscle structure.
> Stall observation. Observing the horse in its stall may reveal its comfort level, while observing the horse walk out of the stall may give clues
about chronic lameness issues.
> Palpation examination. After the initial post-stall observation, a palpation examination should be performed and should include eliciting responses
to potentially painful areas.
> Hoof examination. Flexion and hoof testers should be used prior to observing the horse in action.
> Working observation. Observe the horse in hand at a walk and trot in straight-line movement and in circles, followed by similar observation while
jogging the horse on a lead. It is important to make these observations on soft and hard surfaces.
> Flexion tests. Perform flexion tests of all limbs while the horse is walking or trotting away.
> Wedge tests. After observing the horse in motion, wedge tests can be useful to localize the sites of lameness. "A reverse wedge that stretches
the deep flexor tendon may increase a lameness related to that structure," Mitchell says. "A wedge placed laterally under
the foot may stretch the medial collateral ligament of the distal interphalangeal joint and increase lameness if that structure
Mitchell points out that practitioners should take care to not overexert a very lame horse until the nature of the lameness
> Observation with rider. Once the horse is examined in hand, conduct similar observations with a rider present. Doing this may reveal distal limb pain
or other problems that could be contributing to lameness, such as back or neck pain. The riding portion should include movement
in straight lines and circles and on both soft and hard surfaces.