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Musculoskeletal problems associated with lameness and poor performance among horses used for barrel racing: 118 cases (2000–2003)

Robin M. DabareinerDepartment of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4475.

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Noah D. CohenDepartment of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4475.

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 VMD, PhD, DACVIM
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G. Kent CarterDepartment of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4475.

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Sandra NunnDepartment of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4475.

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William MoyerDepartment of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4475.

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Abstract

Objective—To identify types of musculoskeletal problems associated with lameness or poor performance in horses used for barrel racing.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—118 horses.

Procedure—Medical records were reviewed for information on signalment, history, physical and lameness examination findings, diagnostic tests performed, diagnosis, and treatment.

Results—Most horses were examined because of lameness (n = 72 [61%]) rather than poor performance (46 [39%]), but owner complaint was not significantly associated with age or body weight of the horse. The most common performance change was refusal or failure to turn properly around the first barrel (19/46 [41%]). The right forelimb (n = 57 [48%]) was most commonly affected, followed by the left forelimb (51 [43%]), the left hind limb (31 [26%]), and the right hind limb (25 [21%]). In 31 horses (26%), both forelimbs were affected, and in 6 (5%), both hind limbs were affected. The most common musculoskeletal problems were forelimb foot pain only (n = 39 [33%]), osteoarthritis of the distal tarsal joints (17 [14%]), suspensory ligament desmitis (15 [13%]), forelimb foot pain with distal tarsal joint osteoarthritis (11 [9%]), and bruised feet (10 [8.5%]). In 81 (69%) horses, the affected joint was treated with intra-articular medications.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that in horses used for barrel racing that are examined because of lameness or poor performance, the forelimbs are more likely to be affected than the hind limbs, with forelimb foot pain and osteoarthritis of the distal tarsal joints being the most common underlying abnormalities. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005; 227:1646–1650)

Abstract

Objective—To identify types of musculoskeletal problems associated with lameness or poor performance in horses used for barrel racing.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—118 horses.

Procedure—Medical records were reviewed for information on signalment, history, physical and lameness examination findings, diagnostic tests performed, diagnosis, and treatment.

Results—Most horses were examined because of lameness (n = 72 [61%]) rather than poor performance (46 [39%]), but owner complaint was not significantly associated with age or body weight of the horse. The most common performance change was refusal or failure to turn properly around the first barrel (19/46 [41%]). The right forelimb (n = 57 [48%]) was most commonly affected, followed by the left forelimb (51 [43%]), the left hind limb (31 [26%]), and the right hind limb (25 [21%]). In 31 horses (26%), both forelimbs were affected, and in 6 (5%), both hind limbs were affected. The most common musculoskeletal problems were forelimb foot pain only (n = 39 [33%]), osteoarthritis of the distal tarsal joints (17 [14%]), suspensory ligament desmitis (15 [13%]), forelimb foot pain with distal tarsal joint osteoarthritis (11 [9%]), and bruised feet (10 [8.5%]). In 81 (69%) horses, the affected joint was treated with intra-articular medications.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that in horses used for barrel racing that are examined because of lameness or poor performance, the forelimbs are more likely to be affected than the hind limbs, with forelimb foot pain and osteoarthritis of the distal tarsal joints being the most common underlying abnormalities. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005; 227:1646–1650)