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Thorough Lameness Exam Starts Before you Pick up a Hoof

Equine veterinarian urges Summit attendees to use more than their eyes when evaluating horses

Harry Werner, an equine veterinarian from North Granby, Mass., and past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, believes that a thorough equine foot examination in lameness cases should begin long before you pick up the horse’s foot.

“The foot I’ve been told was affected may be the last thing I pick up,” Werner told attendees at the seventh International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio, during February. “I don’t want to go in with a preset notion of what the problem is.”

Werner, who also delivered the Burney Chapman Memorial Lecture sponsored by Life Data Labs, says his system has evolved over 37 years. He credits many other veterinarians and farriers with contributing to its development. He notes that he’s been using the same pair of hoof testers for years and still considers them to be a very valuable asset.

“I’d rather lose my digital X-ray machine than my hoof testers,” he said. “It would be a big mistake to grab the digital X-ray machine before you grabbed your hoof testers.”

Werner not only starts his exam before he picks up the foot, he’s thinking about it before he even sees the horse.

Start Big

“When I examine a horse, I want to start with a big view,” he says. “I’m thinking about that horse and focusing on him before I ever arrive at the barn.”

If he’s familiar with the horse, that includes doing a mental review of what kind of work the horse is doing.

“Think about…

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Pat Tearney

Pat Tearney is a long-term newspaper and magazine veteran writer and editor. Before retiring, he served for a number of years on the American Farriers Journal staff and continues to share his writing talents with our readers.

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