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Since Scottie first went lame in October, I feel like I have been very hot… okay borderline obsessive about his soundness. Now I have never had a fantastic eye for lameness. Obviously I can see if they are hopping lame or even 5/10s I would like to say I would be able to spot. But anything less than that has always been a struggle for me.
Lameness in Scottie
I feel like I know Scottie very well and I can see a lot milder cases of lameness on him than I can in other horses. And if I can’t see the lameness, I can often feel it when I ride. Long story short, I feel like I know his movement very well and while I may not be able to tell you where he is 1/10 lame, I feel confident saying that I can see there is an issue somewhere.
There have been times where Scottie has been so on the cusp between lame and sound, that I really struggle to call it. But he looks different enough for me to feel that he is actually a teeny tiny bit lame, rather than sound. I sometimes I feel that I look for lameness and therefore I see it in Scottie.
Recently, I have found myself watching peoples videos on social media of them riding their horses and I find myself seeing similar “lameness” traits. You know the signs of lameness that are so subtle you don’t see them unless you know the horse is already lame.
None of the videos I watched where I saw these lameness signs were owners asking if their horse looked okay. In fact most of them were proud posts of how well their horse had gone in their lesson or what they have achieved recently.
Now obviously I didn’t comment my thoughts on any of these posts, mainly because I am unsure if I am actually seeing lameness or if I am now just so obsessed with looking for lameness I am making myself see it. But these posts have got me wondering about how horse owners in general recognise lameness.
Research into this area
Ordinarily, I would just write it off to the fact that I don’t have a great eye for lameness in other horses and leave it that. But after having a bit of a revamp in the back end of EquiPepper, I stumbled across an old post I wrote, Blind to Lameness.
In this post I sum up recent research which basically found that the majority of horse owners are unable to notice minor lameness in their horses. One shocking fact of the study was that 23 horses presumed sound by their owners, 14 showed forelimb lameness.
Is there a solution?
So could these videos of very subtle lameness I see on social media actually be lame horses whose owners can’t see it? And if so, how do we tackle this problem of owners blind to lameness?
I feel that calling people out on social media is not the way forward. Especially when I know when my eye isn’t the best. Also, a lot of these people I see posting also have regular lessons with an instructor, which would suggest the instructor isn’t seeing the lameness either. And with having a good eye for lameness being something very difficult to learn, almost being an art in itself, I almost feel that teaching owners isn’t the answer either.
I don’t actually have any answers for this either. It’s just something I have been thinking to myself recently and I thought it is something interesting to write about. But I would love to hear your opinion on this. Do you ever find yourself seeing lame horses being ridden by apparently oblivious owners? Or are you, like me, currently going through a phase of seeing lameness everywhere. Perhaps you have a solution for this problem! Do share your thoughts!