Lameness in horses varies from simple problems to complicated, mutifactorial problems.. Lameness diagnosis is often very straightforward e.g. acute pain in the hoof on application of pressure testing, heat and an obvious crack in the hoof wall to explore. On the other hand, there may be no painful reference point and very little information as to the onset and development of the lameness. In these cases, the diagnostic pathway is progressive and a process of elimination.
The examination may include observation at different gaits both led and under saddle, flexion pressure tests of lower limb joints, regional anaesthesia with nerve blocks, joint anaesthesia, ultrasound examination and selective radiography. Initial, uncomplicated lameness exams can often be done in the paddock, but more detailed exams may require admission to our Ooralea clinic or Habana farm.
Lameness exams can be time-consuming and may need to be repeated, especially when progressive nerve and joint anaesthesia is used to “block out” the source of pain.
Diagnosis is key- only then can constructive advice be given and a treatment plan formulated, which may include medication, rest, physiotherapy, surgery and/or corrective farriery. It is not uncommon for these cases to have chronic osteoarthritic lesions which are only identified on thorough clinical examination.
Being a firm believer in the adage “no hoof, no horse”, Dr Bruce Howlett has a particular interest in equine podiatry.
Many of the lameness cases and poor performance cases presented to us are hoof related.
Hoof problems include congenital deformities (such as club feet), injuries, infections, laminitis and, sadly, lack of balance and trauma as a result of poor farriery.
Poor performance is also frequently a result of substandard farriery. Unbalanced hooves and inappropriate shoes lead to tripping, overreaching, slipping, falling, joint soreness and arthritis, as well as spinal and shoulder soreness.
At Stabler and Howlett we work with our team of skilled farriers to restore balance and function to your horses’ hooves. We have achieved some remarkable results through our cooperative, scientific approach.
For complicated or unusual cases we work with our advisors Master Farrier David Farmillo and Dr Luke Wells-Smith, Farrier and Veterinarian at Scone Veterinary Hospitals Equine Podiatry Centre ( equinepodiatry.com.au ).
Our portable, wireless x-ray equipment allows us to take high quality radiographs anywhere, anytime! With images appearing almost instantly on the laptop, diagnosis of lameness and injury is greatly accelerated. The digital format provides amazing image quality and can be emailed off for specialist opinions if required.
“Endoscopy” means to look inside. Our fibre optic endoscopes are used to look inside hollow organs or cavities of the body and project a colour image onto a tv screen.
Endoscopes are useful in the diagnosis and treatment of oral, nasal, oesophageal, respiratory, reproductive and bladder related diseases in horses.
Our “scopes” are used to locate and remove foreign bodies, view and collect tissue samples from various organs, assess breathing difficulties and diagnose and treat tumours.
Note that endoscopy can only be performed on horses that have current Hendra vaccination status or a negative Hendra Virus test.
Blood results in 20 minutes! Our state of the art laboratory allows us to rapidly diagnose illness in foals and adult horses, and to monitor response to treatment.
Our portable iStat blood machine is particularly useful for assessing illness in foals and horses with colic. Performance blood profiles are able to be carried out in-house or externally which can provide invaluable information regarding performance potential.
Dr Megan Smith examining a horse skin sample under the microscope at the Ooralea hospital