Figuring Out What's Wrong

Understanding Lameness (Examining Equine Lameness from Diagnosis to Prognosis)

There is no shortage of hoof-care books for horse owners. Although most of these broadly generalize the subject, others narrow the field based on stricter disciplines. One of the latest offerings on a footcare topic is Western Horseman’s Understanding Lameness.

Author Terry Swanson, DVM, is a former president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and serves at the Littleton Equine Medical Center in Colorado. With the help of journalist Heidi Nyland, Swanson draws on his years of clinical experience to tackle the wide subject of lameness.

The book begins with an explanation of how veterinarians determine if a horse is lame and the severity of the affliction. It is broken into chapters based on anatomy, from the internal and external structure of the foot, up through the leg, and ending with the horse’s back.

Swanson and Nyland use a helpful device when introducing each affliction throughout the book. They provide imagined scenarios that create a detailed situation in which change is observed with the horse. Although there is never a single cause and effect explanation for each foot problem, this mimicking is helpful by allowing the reader to recognize how problems can slightly develop.

Equally strong is the incorporation of case studies at the end of each chapter. The authors describe a horse and the work it performs, followed by the affliction and subsequent treatment. This should illustrate that curing lameness is often not achieved by a single successful treatment. Although helpful, more description on how the owner first…

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