Back to the fabulous horse-course. It’s going so fast, I wish I had more time to write about everything. Last week we’ve had some very well presented lectures, about gaits and locomotion, anatomy and other aspects combining the use and biology of the horse. One very common reason for horse owners to bring their horse to the veterinary clinic are problems related to the horse’s locomotion. The horse is lame. The horse keeps being lame. The horse is lame every now and then. The veterinarians have different opinions about on which leg the horse is lame… Long story short, lameness is often vague, the cause can be hard to find and it can easily turn into a chronic problem. To put it into perspective: Lameness is one of the most common reasons for horse euthanization.
“Lameness is one of the most common reasons for horse euthanization.”
No wonder that we should learn everything there is to know about horse legs. What is the anatomy? Where are the joints? Which genetic defects exist? What is the difference in locomotion between the gaits? We’ve spent a lot of classes on these topics. Lars Roepstorff, a veterinarian specialized in horse kinematics, was lecturing us and I think we were very lucky to have such an inspiring teacher. He is clearly very passionate about the topic and involved in some pioneering research. After theoretical classes we had some more practical hours to learn the anatomy of the horse legs from different models. Looking at real bones and actually feeling them was great preparation for this week…
One of the leg models during anatomy class. Photo by Jasmine Lindholm.
…when we were putting theory into practice! On tuesday we had a whole morning in the stables. We went palpating horse legs from four different horses. After a short demonstration it was time to see what we remembered from these bones. Some joints were easy to find, others were more challenging. Luckily the ‘school horses’ are very well behaved and were very patient with us while we were pushing around all over their bodies.
Palpation exercise on the horse legs
And after lunch we were invited to join another lecture about lameness. This was actually a bit of a special event as the class was organized for some top riding talents from Europe. The main topic here was on new techniques that have been developed to detect lameness. And hopefully not only to detect an already existing lameness, but to find asymmetries already in a much earlier stage. One of the fascinating new methods made use of sensors over the horse head, withers and back. By looking at the differences in swing movement deciding which leg was causing the problem suddenly becomes a simple equation instead of a vague puzzle. Modern technologies can be really great sometimes.
The movement sensors that can be simply ‘sticked on’ to the horse’s coat