With more than 40 years spent dealing with equine lameness, Dr. Ronald Genovese is an authority in equine sports medicine and surgery. He has a special interest in limb ultrasonography and is recognized nationally and internationally as the authority on tendon and ligament scanning. He received the AAEP’s Outstanding Educator Award and was cited for “helping countless young veterinarians learn the rigors of private equine practice, and since 1983 providing one-on-one assistance in ultrasonography to numerous veterinarians in his clinic.”
Q: What is the one thing owners should be doing to prevent lameness?
Dr. G: Be an educated owner about the athletic activity of the horse and what it takes to manage the horse for that activity relative to health care and conditioning.
Q: What advice can we follow to help prevent lameness?
Dr. G: Prevention of lameness is a very difficult question to answer, simply because - like human professional sports - musculoskeletal injuries are part of athletic endeavors by nature. The same would hold true for athletic horses.
Owners should have some association with a professional in whatever athletic discipline you participate in. Having a professional that can provide instruction and advice is a big step to successful outcome. Also:
A proper plan for training and musculoskeletal conditioning.
Timely trimming and/or shoeing (every 5-6 weeks, not every 8-10 weeks).
Awareness of conditions and footing that increase risk of injury for any given athletic use.
Some scientific proof from the plethora of purported preventive supplements that they actually have validity. (I feel many do not. Paid or reimbursed in some way, anecdotal testimonies do not fill that bill.)
Yearly musculoskeletal evaluation by a veterinarian or whenever there are early signs of some perceived gait abnormality.
Early detection offers a better chance to rehabilitate or ameliorate a limb problem. Try to get an accurate diagnosis before instituting possible therapies – an evidenced based diagnosis that is backed up by regional nerve blocks, symmetrical gait evaluation, palpations, limb evaluations by a veterinarian, limb imaging and at times blood tests.
Based on history, there are times when your veterinarian may use palpation and gait evaluation for diagnostic therapy and this does have a place when trying to do evidenced based diagnostic evaluation.
Realize there are times that certain injuries will require significant downtime to repair. Not all injuries can be treated, ameliorated with therapy that allows the continued athletic use of the horse.
There are other times, unfortunately, when the situation is such that repair and return to previous athletic endeavor is not a realistic option and then retirement or downscaled athletic use is indicated.
There are many ancillary folks who pose themselves as professional health care people, but horse owners should be more inquiring about actual degrees, training and licensure. For instance, is my chiropractor trained formally and licensed by the state? Veterinarians are required to show an up-to-date state license and provide a veterinary degree document. It’s ok for customers to ask for credentials from the care provider.
One thing to keep in mind: it is unlawful to make a diagnosis and prescribe therapy unless you are a licensed veterinarian.
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