Hoof Nutrition Intelligence Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.

Below you will find Part 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: How prevalent are lameness issues among horses?

By Blue Cross, a national pet charity in the United Kingdom

A: A recent National Equine Health Survey (NEHS) revealed that 38% of horses taking part were recorded as suffering from health problems and one-third (32.9%) were categorized as lame.

Consistent with previous surveys, lameness was shown to be more likely to be caused by conditions such as osteoarthritis in the limb, rather than problems in the foot.

The 2016 survey included 16,751 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules and 5,635 people. Most horses were used for leisure. Some 62% of these horses were healthy while 38% had one or more health problems recorded. The most frequent disease syndrome recorded was lameness, accounting for one-third of all reported problems.

Josh Slater from the Royal Veterinary College analyzed the NEHS data: “The data gleaned from the survey remains consistent year on year, confirming the reliability of our findings for benchmarking, referencing and research. This year’s increase in overall lameness may be in part attributed to the higher incidence of pus in the foot but may also be because owners are becoming more aware of lameness issues. 

Ongoing research on lameness has helped to raise understanding of the importance of accurate diagnosis and treatment both from welfare and performance perspectives.”

The six most notable disease syndromes identified in the 2016 NEHS survey of horses/ponies recorded as suffering from health problems are:

1 Lameness 32.9% including laminitis, compared to 12.9% in 2010-12.

2 Skin diseases (sweet itch, mud fever, rain scald, external parasites, skin tumors and wounds) 25.5% compared to 15.2% in 2010-12.

3 Laminitis 6.8% compared to 3.6% in 2010-12.

4 PPID (Equine Cushing’s Disease) 6.6%. This is similar to the high prevalence of 6.4% PPID reported in previous years and possibly reflects increased surveillance through sponsored testing programs as opposed to true increases in prevalence from the previous surveys.

5 Recurrent airway obstruction 5.6% compared to 3.6% in 2010-12.

6 Back problems 5.5% compared to 3% in 2010-12.

Blue Cross is a national pet charity in the United Kingdom that was funded in 1897. They provide support for horse and other pet owners who can’t afford private veterinary treatment, help to find homes for unwanted animals and educate the public on the responsibilities of animal ownership.

Click here to read part 1 of the April 1, 2020 installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: I’ve got a mare my farrier thinks may be suffering from equine metabolic syndrome. What is it and how do I manage it? Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.