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Medical Index
First Posted May 15, 2010
Jul 28, 2010

Degrees of Horse Lameness

Grade 0 is defined as no detectable lameness under any circumstances.

Grade 1 is defined as lameness that is difficult to observe and is inconsistently apparent regardless of the circumstances (e.g., in hand or under saddle, hard surface, incline, circling).

Grade 2 is lameness that is difficult to detect at a walk or trot in a straight line, but is consistently apparent under particular circumstances (e.g., under saddle, hard surface, incline).

Grade 3 is lameness that is consistently observed at a trot in all circumstances.

Grade 4 is lameness that is obvious with a marked head nod, hip hike, and/or shortened stride.

Grade 5 is lameness that is obvious with minimal weight bearing either during motion or at rest. The horse might be unable to move.

Rules of thumb: Particularly in complex or subtle lameness cases, some rules of thumb can help guide a veterinarian to determine the location of a lameness. For example, most lamenesses are identified in the forelimbs and 95% of lamenesses in the forelimbs occur from the knee down. In contrast, 80% of lamenesses in the hind limbs occur in the hock and stifle. While these guidelines can be useful, breed and use of horse will impact common locations of lameness. For example, Standardbred racehorses and other performance horses (e.g., those used for dressage and cutting) have a higher incidence of hind limb lameness. Equine Lameness

For More Information:

Lameness Gaited Horse
Nail in Horse Foot
The Lameness Examination: Overview/Merck Vet Manual

Medical Index