On my visits to veterinary clinics, schools, and research centers, one of the things I enjoy most is watching veterinarians work up lameness cases. There’s something satisfying about seeing a clinician with a practiced eye get to the bottom of what’s causing a horse to be “off,” using close observation, careful palpation, high-tech imaging, and active collaboration with colleagues.

The other side of this techie-science bit, of course, is the relationship side. I remember one owner’s expression of confusion and disappointment when her horse’s X rays showed evidence of navicular bone damage, and I saw utter disbelief and sadness in another owner’s face when a surgeon diagnosed her horse’s hind limb fracture and deemed it inoperable.

We hate to see our horses in any sort of discomfort, but as long as horses are traveling across the ground (which is considerably better than the alternative), especially in an athletic fashion, issues will arise. It’s important for us to understand what goes into a diagnosis and be prepared to understand the process the veterinarian will walk through when a horse comes up lame. The September issue boasts Part 1 of our two-part diagnosing lameness series, and you can preview that article here. Tracy Gantz, one of our experienced freelancers in California, handily walks us through lower-limb lamenesses and many of the ways practitioners draw on their experiences and exams to arrive at a diagnosis. Be sure to check this article out.

Here’s what else you’ll find in the September magazine issue, not available online (unless you sign up for the digital subscription):

  • Equine Piroplasmosis (EP): We hear about this disease more and more frequently as outbreaks pop up and international events in nonendemic (where it isn’t regularly found) countries prepare to host horses from countries were EP is endemic. Spread by ticks and blood-contaminated instruments, the protozoan parasites responsible for causing this disease can wreak havoc on naive (never exposed) populations of horses. Get to know the disease so you can protect against it.
  • Buying Farm Equipment: While I’m currently a suburb dweller, I gained many insights on what I’d need to do if required to pick out a tractor and related implements for a farm—large or small.
  • Impaction Colic: Oh, our horses’ delicate GI tracts. This article offers an in-depth look at how and why these blockages--from the mild to the very severe—happen, along with suggestions for avoiding them. Don’t miss the accompanying illustration showing common locations for impactions. It can be tough to visualize what’s going on within the hundreds of feet of intestine coursing through your horse’s abdomen, so veterinarian-artist Dr. Robin Peterson drew her interpretation for us.
  • Don’t miss summaries of the 2013 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine forum. Yes, there are internal medicine specialists for horses, too, and they gather each year to share the latest applicable information from research. Find a useful digest of the studies in the magazine.
  • You’ll also find information on managing hoof cracks, obesity, and more as a subscriber. Or, pick up just this issue and see what you think!

And since I’m weary of writing about everything that can go wrong with our horses, it’s time to ask for some happy endings.

Tell me about a lameness that had a happy ending: How did it come about, and how did your veterinarian work to diagnose and resolve it?