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Examination of a series of lameness cases in Texas revealed insights into why owners of 200 cutting horses sought treatment at the Texas A&M Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Two hundred cutting horses were presented for evaluation with poor performance being the more common complaint (58%) compared with lameness (42%). All of the horses were lame in at least one limb and 81/200 were lame in multiple limbs. Typically the lameness was mild (median grade 2, scale 0-5). Limb flexion highlighted the presence of lameness in most (60%) of the horses. Most of the horses (80%) underwent diagnostic anesthesia (nerve and/or joint blocks) and diagnostic imaging (88%) including X-rays (91%), ultrasound examination (31%), MRI (9%) or bone scans (6%).
The most common presenting complaint is that horses would not reverse direction to stay on individual cattle during cutting. Lameness was more common in hind limbs (67%) compared with forelimbs (33%) with the stifle being the most common site for lameness affecting 25% of horses. Suspensory ligament desmitis, arthritis of the hock joint and navicular pain each affected about 15% of horses. All other specific causes of lameness affected less than 4% of the animals. Interestingly, soreness during palpation of the thoracolumbar (back) muscles was reported as the most consistent physical exam finding, present in 70% of the horses examined.
After a lengthy discussion of the results, the authors concluded veterinarians should be alert for lameness, particularly of the stifle joint, when presented with cutting horses with a…