Today’s performance horses work harder than ever and we are asking more and more of their bodies all of the time. Having your veterinarian do a yearly or bi-yearly soundness exam on your performance horse can prevent soundness issues and/or catch lameness issues early so they can be taken care of quickly. So what does it mean when your veterinarian says that your horse is lame? The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) have a scale that is used by equine veterinarians nation wide.
Grade 0: Lameness is not perceptible under any circumstances
Grade 1: Lameness is difficult to observe and is not consistently apparent, regardless of circumstances (e.g. under saddle, circling, on inclines, on hard surfaces, etc)
Grade 2: Lameness is difficult to observe at a walk or when trotting a straight line, but consistently apparent under certain circumstances (e.g. weight carrying, circling, inclines, hard surfaces, etc)
Grade 3: Lameness is consistently observable at a trot under all circumstances.
Grade 4: Lameness is obvious at the walk.
Grade 5: Lameness produces minimal weight-bearing or an inability to move.
Most of the performance limiting lamenesses are grade 1-grade 3. The earlier the lameness is recognized, the better the chance you and your veterinarian have to keep your horse performing at top levels.
Please call, email or message with any questions or for more details on what a soundness exam entails.