Is your horse lame? Here’s how to tell

When animals get hurt, they do try to hide it. But still, there are ways you can tell if your horse is lame. As a horse owner, you ought to know your horse well, – like most owners – and spend some time checking the horse’s legs and hooves. Your horse will probably try not to place the affected limb on the ground in the normal, completely flat fashion, and also avoid bearing any weight on it. The following suggestions should help you know if a horse is lame:


While your horse is in the stall, observe for a while his hooves as he stands. Do you notice anything unusual? By observing carefully how he is standing, you can get your first hint of a problem. Usually, a hurting limb will be placed loosely on the floor, without supporting any weight, and it is likely that your horse will lean towards the side of the hurt limb. And it is not hard to tell which hoof/leg is hurting, since it will slightly bend off so as to avoid the weight from mounting on it. Even if the bruise could be temporary, you should still have a look at it.


If you believe that one your horse’s limbs could be hurt, then it would be advisable to take him out of the stall and have a little walk with him on the outside. Keep an eye on the limb that you suspect could be hurt while he walks. You’ll tell that he’s lame if it appears difficult for him to place the hoof on the ground – hesitation in doing this is a clear sign that his hoof or leg is hurt. Your horse will change his usual style of walking and this will be the indication you will be looking for.


This is probably the easiest way to tell if your horse is lame, or about to go lame. Lame horses usually throw back and forth their heads in a rhythm that matches the stride (instead of how the head usually follows when he is normal). Trotting him will help you easily identify which limb is affected. You’ll realize that his trot is no longer the same, and the side that’s hurt tends to be favored. This is your horse’s way of trying to shake off any weight from being placed on the limb that hurts. And even if you can pinpoint the exact spot that is hurting on the limb, you’ll still veterinarian’s expertise to be able to confirm it.

A horse is not only a precious animal, but it could also be a lifelong companion. If you do understand your horse well enough, then it should not take you much time to tell when something just doesn’t seem right. In most instances, your horse cold become lame temporarily but there still are some serious cases to look out for. If you notice any signs of lameness, check with the veterinarian immediately so you and your horse can get the assistance you need.