It starts with Love and ends with lameness and despair.
Lameness creates long term welfare issues and overburdens rescue organizations.
Half of all horses suffer from lameness every year.
Ridden and unridden horses suffer.
Lameness creates an enormous emotional and financial burden for caretakers.
Hundreds of Millions of dollars are spent each year on diagnostics and treatments.
Imagine true soundness without the need for treatments, surgeries, or medications.
You can help
It is known that some horses are sound despite pathology and some horses are lame without visible evidence of pathology, and it is shrugged off as luck. Find the differences and you have the solution. As new research emerges, there is deeper understanding of degenerative joint disease (DJD), osteoarthritis (OA) and kissing spines, but still no research has delivered a protocol for prevention and early detection of these conditions. Before there is pain, there is overloading of the joints that will lead to pain.
Overloading does not just mean weight. Loading encompasses direction, duration, and frequency in addition to weight. The arthritis foundation recommends activity for people with arthritis. "One of the most beneficial ways to manage osteoarthritis (OA) is to get moving. While it may be hard to think of exercise when the joints hurt, moving is considered an important part of the treatment plan." There is empirical evidence that specialized training for horses, specifically using kinematics that do not lead to pathology, restores soundness and performance when caught early enough. In his article “General Biomechanics: The Horse as a Biological Machine”, published in 2010 in the journal Clinical Technique, L-judge Jeff Moore separates “true” lameness from “mechanical” lameness, stating that “The rider is often at fault, may not realize it, and may call the veterinarian to deal with a performance issue.” This scenario involves riders of all levels, but we can't just point a finger at riders. We need to do the science and we need to deliver educational materials.
It hurts to be told that your riding is not good and it damaged your horse. Most riders are effective riders and when lameness is caused by riding, then the rider can learn new strategies that are effective for preventing lameness and for rehabilitation. Part of Equine Soundness Foundation's vision is to deliver education and training so riders can detect early signs of lameness and prevent it altogether.
Imagine a world where riders can recognize the early signs of lameness in their horses - before there is damage, and prevent it; where horses don't change homes and careers due to lameness and under-performance, where horses don't need extensive treatment regimes to keep them in the game, not even elite horses. We know this is possible and with your support we can get the research moving in the direction of prevention, and deliver educational resources to the equestrian community.