Tuesday, 2 May 2017

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Liability to Others at Training & Competition Fixtures

A legal viewpoint by Deborah Flynn, Director at Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors

Attending competitions and training events, as a competitor, or someone in control of a horse, brings with it the responsibility of a duty of care to others in attendance, both spectators and competitors. Your duty as a rider is to take care to ensure your own safety and that of others, to minimise risks and to warn others so far as possible of any potential risks. You owe a duty of care to anyone whom you could reasonably foresee might be affected and/or damaged by your actions; if you breach that duty and cause damage or loss, you are liable in negligence. Of course other competitors, spectators and show organisers owe a similar duty of care to you.

Horses can cause accidents in all manner of different ways and each case is looked at on its own facts. The law does recognise that horses do have minds of their own, and you can’t always be in complete control of them 100% of the time.
The general principle is that a competitor voluntarily takes the risk that occurs in the lawful pursuit of their particular sport. It follows that a rider who has knowledge of the risk, but still enters into a dangerous situation, is voluntarily taking the risk. When a competitor goes outside the scope of the sport and a fellow competitor is injured, then a claim for damages may be made.

One issue that has been highlighted recently in the press is the danger of warming up at competitions. It is important to follow etiquette and rules when warming up. Be familiar with the warm up rules and etiquettes and if you are a member of an organisation, make sure you adhere to its particular rules. For example British Dressage has “working in” guidelines which include amongst them:-
·         Pass left hand to left hand when meeting another rider coming in the opposite direction.
·         Announce that you intend to enter a practice area.
·         Do not walk or halt on the outside track and always leave room for other riders to pass.

It is clear that these rules are there to ensure the safety of those participating in the event and, if an accident occurred as a result of a rider disregarding the rules then it is foreseeable that a claim may result.
(Note: You can read more about Collecting Ring Etiquette on pages 36-37 in the Jan-Feb 2017 issue of Equine).

Organisers also owe a duty of care to competitors. This duty is not to protect competitors from the ordinary risks of a particular sport, but the organisers do have a duty to ensure that there are no avoidable outside factors which could cause damage. For example if an organiser placed show jumps in an area full of mole hills resulting in a horse or rider being injured, a rider might have a claim. In one case the Claimant successfully sued the event organiser when a horse kicked out at him whilst leaving the collecting ring. The organisers were found to have been negligent in allowing overcrowding in the ring and having insufficient stewards to control the area.

It is also not just a case of your actions when riding that could lead to you being found negligent. The way you handle your horse on the ground can be relevant. In one reported case, a coroner’s court heard how a horse which had a habit of breaking free was tied to a piece of baler twine attached to a sheep hurdle outside its horsebox. The horse broke free and galloped around the horsebox area, pulling the sheep hurdle with it, striking a girl who sadly later died. The coroner’s role was not to apportion blame, and in that case it was not clear whether the person in charge of the horse had tied the horse to the baler twine or directly to the sheep hurdle, but there was a suggestion that if the horse had in fact been tied directly to the sheep hurdle, that could have been negligent.
If a spectator is injured, then they might also have a claim if there has been negligence of another competitor or the event organiser.
The courts do recognise that spectators have to accept a certain level of risk when attending sporting events. That risk is that riders may make errors of judgment or suffer ‘lapses of skill’ momentarily. However it is unlikely that spectators would be taken to have accepted the risk of a rider being reckless for their own or others’ safety, or deliberately riding dangerously, if an injury were to follow as a result.

Further, there could also be a possible claim against an owner/handler for damage and injury caused by their horse under the Animals Act 1971. Under this Act, an owner/handler is automatically liable for any injury or damage caused by their horse if:
·         The damage is of a kind which the animal was likely to cause; and
·         The likelihood of the damage was due to characteristics of the horse which are not normally found in horses or only found in horses at particular times or in particular circumstances; and
·         Those characteristics were known to the owner/rider.

The Animals Act does contain a number of statutory defences, some of which would be available to horse owners/handlers. Under Section 5(1) of the Act, the owner/handler is not liable if the damage is wholly due to the fault of the person suffering it. Section 5(2) says there is no liability if the person has voluntarily accepted the risk.
Under Section 5(1), a court has to find the Claimant was wholly responsible for the damage which he or she has suffered due to his or her own fault. For example, in one case, a Defendant successfully relied on the statutory defence when a Claimant was injured when he was kicked by the Defendant’s horse, whilst competing in a showing class. A number of horses were in the ring being judged. The Court found that the Claimant approached the other horse from behind too quickly and too close so that he came well within kicking range. This caused the other horse to kick out, which was normal behaviour for a horse in these circumstances. The Claimant had little difficulty in establishing the three requirements for strict liability, but the Court also found that if the Claimant had ridden properly he would have given the other horse sufficiently wide berth and it would not have kicked out. Instead, the Claimant put himself in a dangerous position and that action was a catalyst for what happened and the claim failed.

If you have a claim brought against you, an insurance policy is invaluable as litigation can be very expensive. It is advisable that as a horse owner/rider you take out public liability insurance, but do check the detail of your insurance cover. It is important that it covers any third party injury or property damage. If you compete, ensure that the level of cover includes the type of riding you do, and the level at which you compete.
Third party cover is also available through certain organisations. For example, The British Horse Society Gold Membership includes public liability insurance in respect of riding/handling horses for recreational purposes.
Unfortunately, horse riding accidents can result in serious injuries leading to claims into the millions of pounds. Without adequate insurance in place you could be personally liable for these losses.
Note that some insurance policies might have a clause forbidding the policy holder from accepting or trying to accept liability for an accident. Check your policy carefully in this respect, as insurers may invalidate your policy if you have indicated that you were responsible or at fault.
If there is an incident involving your horse that might lead to a claim, inform your insurers straight away. There might be a time limit for you to notify claims under your policy. If you have informed your insurers in time, then even if a claim isn’t made against you until many months later, your insurers should still deal with it.
Normally under English Law, a claimant has three years in which to issue Court Proceedings if they have suffered a personal injury. If the claimant is below eighteen, they have until their twenty first birthday.

If you do become involved in any sort of accident, safety is paramount. If it is safe to do so, try to preserve as much evidence as possible. As soon as you can following the accident, write down what happened and date it. Ask witnesses what they saw and if they are willing, write down what they saw and ask them to sign their statement. Identify everyone involved, including the horses. Make a note of any injuries if you can for example how someone appeared at the time. If you can, take photos or videos, make drawings or sketches of who and what was where. If relevant, make a note of whether people were wearing protective clothing. Note the time, and the weather conditions and the state of the ground if appropriate. It is best to obtain as much information as you can as early as possible, because memories fade or change very quickly.

In conclusion, riding accidents at competitions and training events for which someone is liable are few and far between but if something does go wrong it can often end in severe injury and loss and it is advisable to have third party insurance to deal with those eventualities if someone claims it is your fault. Whether someone is responsible for that incident will depend upon whether they have been negligent or in breach of a statutory duty, and each case will be considered on its own facts.

Deborah (pictured left) has over 21 years experience in all aspects of personal injury claims including catastrophic brain and spinal injury cases, amputee cases, road traffic accidents, accidents at work, fatal accidents, public liability accidents and accidents involving animals/horses.
She gained an LLB (Hons) from Newcastle University before joining Cartmell Shepherd in 1993, qualifying as a solicitor two years later. She became a Partner in 2006.
Deborah is a member of Headway, the brain injury association, the Spinal Injuries Association and Headway North Cumbria, a charity for local people with brain injuries and their carers. She is also an Accredited Litigator of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, a member of the United Kingdom Acquired Brain Injury Forum (UKABIF) and the British Horse Society.
In 2004 Deborah was nominated for Cumbria Woman of the Year. She has been personally recommended in the Legal 500 and has a ‘five-star’ rating in the Good Lawyer Guide. In 2016 Deborah was named a Leading Individual in the Legal 500.

Contact Deborah at Cartmell Shepherd’s Victoria House office in Carlisle City Centre. Tel: 01228 516666. www.cartmells.co.uk

This article first appeared in the March 2017 issue of Equine. To subscribe securely online, visit www.theeequinestore.co.uk

5 Equine Healthcare Essentials on Test

Is your first aid kit stocked up with all those little tubs, sprays and other essentials needed to ensure you can attend to your four-legged friend when he or she decides to have an argument with a fence or develop the dreaded ‘mud fever’? Here are just five Equine Healthcare Essentials you may find useful to have on hand...

GroomAway – Seal to Heal

The company says: A quick, transparent and flexible wound cover that provides a protective layer in 60 seconds preventing penetration of bacteria, soil, flies and insects. Helps cracked heels and other mud related problems. Ideal for use in emergencies or for hard-to-reach areas such as under the belly. Stain-free and non-toxic, it can be washed off using warm water but is also designed to wear off naturally after time. Ozone friendly, it is a gentle and quiet aerosol offering lasting protection. Ideal for reducing the risk of infection for cut and chafe wounds. 100 ml. RRP: £9.99.
Our tester, Susan Chappelhow, says: How easy can a product to be to use; this is so simple. I have mainly used the spray on grazes and cuts; just cleaned the cut/graze allowed it to dry, sprayed this on and that's it, perfect! This would be great in anyone's grooming kit for the minor grazes. It also works as a barrier to help stop cracked heels from the mud. I really like how easy it is to apply, no sticky creams which get on everything but where they should be, or problems getting it to stay on the cut.
N.A.F: NaturalintX Dressing & NaturalintX Wrap

The company says: This softly cushioned dressing protects and insulates the leg to support minor wound management. The highly absorbent cotton padding is encased in a tubular non-woven casing to provide a low adherent protective dressing. 500g. RRP: £9.99.
A cohesive, elasticated support bandage, specifically designed to hold wound dressings carefully in place. When applied correctly, at approximately 50% stretch, the wrap will effectively secure the dressing neatly and comfortably over the wound. Efficient and easy to use. RRP: £1.99 each or £23.88 for a box of 12. www.naf-
Our tester, Maria Phillips, says: I found the dressing to be excellent for cushioning the area around small bumps and wounds on the lower legs, so it had a dual purpose in that it not only provided support during the healing process, it also prevented dirt and foreign bodies from entering the wound, therefore keeping the area clean and dry and stopping the risk of infection.
It also is very useful for application over foot poultices. The veterinary wrap was essential to be used in conjunction with the above as it secured the dressing and prevented it from slipping or rubbing as well as keeping the dressing clean for longer. It’s very adhesive so can be used on the lower leg and is also ideal around the hoof. The wrap went a long way and was very easy to use. Essential in the first aid kit for use in the treatment of domestic or farm animals, large or small and it is for that reason I am scoring them as I have.

GroomAway – Aloe Vera Gel
The company says:
Made from the best natural ingredients, which helps maintain healthy skin and aids natural recovery from minor grazes and sunburn. Useful for almost any skin condition that needs soothing and astringing. 200ml. RRP:
Our tester, Chris Grant, says: This gel comes in a handy sized little pot, which was very useful for keeping in the grooming kit bag and on the ‘lotions and potions’ shelf at home. With a lengthy test time I have been able to use the gel on a number of occasions and found it to be soothing and kind on the variety of cuts and sores that it was used on. As well as testing on the ponies, I even on occasion used it on my own hands finding it to be beneficial. I found that only a couple of applications were required thus reducing the healing time of any ailments. Also great as a moisturiser, helping to soften the hard skin around any cuts and preventing them from drying out. The gel can be used liberally, making it great value as the pot lasts plenty of time.  

Robinson Animal Healthcare – Activ Scrub
The company says: An anti-bacterial cleansing wash ideal for the management of common winter skin problems. Mild and gentle, it is perfect for removing scabs and debris caused by mud fever and rain scald, and used regularly it can effectively cleanse areas susceptible to mud fever, remembering to always thoroughly dry the legs afterwards.500 ml sized pump cap bottle. RRP: around £10. www.robinsonanimalhealthcare.com
Our tester, Pam Harrison, says: This is very easy to use – a BIG plus for me as I’m always short of time – and it’s also impossible to spill it thanks to the pump dispenser, which is helpful if a horse is fidgety. Very effective at cleansing dirt and skin debris and it’s easy to dry legs afterwards. Clearly doesn’t sting and used in warm water is very well tolerated on the mud-related and other minor wounds we had during the test period.

N.A.F - NaturalintX Hoof Poultice & NaturalintX Wrap
The company says:
The Hoof Poultice has been designed to comfortably fit your horse’s hoof, reducing preparation time and enabling ease of application. May be applied in three different ways depending on the wound to be dressed, either apply as a hot, cold or dry hoof poultice and hold in place with a NaturalintX Wrap. RRP: £6.99 each or £69.90 for a box of 10.
The Wrap is a cohesive, elasticated support bandage, purpose designed to hold wound dressings carefully in place. When applied correctly at approximately 50% stretch it will effectively secure the dressing neatly and comfortably over the wound. Efficient and easy to use. RRP: £1.99 each or £23.88 for a box of 12. www.naf-equine.eu/uk
Our tester, Caroline Powell, says: Life would be so much more difficult if this hoof poultice didn't exist!!  It aids natural healing with a built in mild antiseptic (Boric Acid) and a drawing agent Tragacanth. Can be cut to size to fit your horse’s injury and can be used hot, cold or dry... A little gem for every first aid kit! Top tip - Remember to always make sure the plastic is facing away from the horse ☺.
Now onto another wonder of the horse world... this fantastic wrap, which is perfect for using on top of a foot poultice. Personally, I always worry about putting this type of stretch material on legs as put on too tight, it can cause some serious issues unless the correct padding is applied. However, this is just perfect for foot poulticing.  Sticks to itself and now can be colour coordinated to suit your horse’s wardrobe!

The full feature of the Big Test of Healthcare Essentials was published in the March issue of Equine. You can buy a single issue of Equine, or take out an annual (11 issue) subscription securely online from www.theequinestore.co.uk

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Tapeworm; Understand the facts and manage the risk

Understand the facts and manage the risks
by Dr Corrine Austin

Internal parasites present a constant challenge for horses, requiring ongoing monitoring and careful management to maintain optimum horse health. Incorrect management can lead to unchecked worm burdens, development of resistance to wormers and in the worst cases, ill health and death.

What is resistance?
Worms can develop the ability to survive the killing effect of wormers, usually through repeated exposure to worming drugs. The risk of resistance emerging is increased by practices such as routine worming strategies or under-dosing with wormers. It is therefore becoming increasingly important to 
The tapeworm Anoplocephala perfoliata
is the most common in the UK.
avoid routinely worming horses and to reserve the use of drugs for when they are really needed – when a horse has a confirmed burden.

The horse tapeworm
Diagram 1 - shows the ileocaecal junction
The most common worms to infect horses in the UK are small redworm (cyathostomins), roundworm (ascarids) and tapeworm (cestodes). Three species of tapeworm are capable of infecting horses; the most common in the UK is Anoplocephala perfoliata. It can grow up to 8 cm long and is made up of a series of segments. The head has four suckers which the tapeworm uses to attach itself to the caecum and to a small region of the intestines called the ileocaecal junction (see diagram 1).  
This localised attachment causes damage to the intestines and the presence of large numbers of tapeworms cause intestinal obstruction and clinical disease, resulting in colic.

Large number of tapeworms cause
intestinal obstruction, resulting
in colic
Diagnosing worm burdens in horses
The most common worms to infect horses in the UK are cyathostomins (small redworm), ascarids (roundworm) and cestodes (tapeworm). Worm egg counts (WEC), should be carried out regularly to monitor for small redworm and roundworm (note: a routine winter worming dose should still be carried out for encysted redworm until a diagnostic test is available). WEC are unreliable for detecting tapeworm burdens as eggs are not uniformly spread throughout the dung. Tapeworm burdens are more accurately diagnosed by either a blood or a saliva test, both of which detect tapeworm-specific antibodies. In the past, the accepted method to control tapeworms was to treat all horses every six months, regardless of whether they needed treating, but since the availability of accurate tests, this practice is no longer necessary or recommended.
The EquiSal Tapeworm saliva test
The EquiSal saliva test is carried out using the specially designed swab provided in the kit to collect saliva. The sample is sent back to the laboratory for testing in a tube containing preservative solution. It is easy to integrate EquiSal Tapeworm testing into your worm control programme – simply test every six months at a time when you would consider routine worming for tapeworm.
The test provides a low, borderline or moderate/high diagnosis and worming is recommended for horses diagnosed as borderline or moderate/high. Diagnostic accuracy has been proven through full validation of the test which has been published in the peer reviewed journal, Veterinary Clinical Pathology.
The EquiSal saliva  swab turns pink after collecting saliva
from a horse to be tested

The importance of routine testing
Routinely monitoring your horse for tapeworm burdens is important as, with other worm species, infection is dynamic and can be influenced by factors outside of your control. This was highlighted recently by results obtained in one of EquiSal’s research studies.
Ama and Charlie graze separately, in a regularly muck cleared field, surrounded by gardens and agricultural land with a bridleway running down one side. Both horses had been diagnosed with low burdens for two years, so it was quite a surprise when Ama’s test results diagnosed her with a moderate/high burden. However, the adjacent bridleway was found to have horse dung left by passing horses and this was enough to infect Ama, who grazes closest to the bridleway. This can be explained when considering the tapeworm life cycle, in which oribatid mites are intermediate hosts (see life cycle section). Oribatid mites living on the pasture would have ingested tapeworm eggs from the dung on the bridleway before moving to the paddock and been inadvertently eaten by Ama.  Ama’s results subsequently reduced to low burden diagnosis after worming.

Tapeworm life cycle
The tapeworm life cycle is different from other horse worms as it requires an intermediate host. Infected horses pass tapeworm eggs onto the pasture where they are consumed by free-living oribatid mites. The eggs develop into larvae within the mite until the mite is ingested by a grazing horse, allowing the larvae to be released into the intestines. The larvae complete their life cycle by attaching to the lining of the caecum or ileocaecal junction, where they develop into adult tapeworms capable of releasing eggs.
Oribatid mites live within the grass and soil of our pastures, but the number of infected mites depends on the level of infected horses grazing the paddocks. If there are a lot of infected horses in a paddock, then a higher proportion of the oribatid mites are likely to be infected. It is essential to manage tapeworm burdens in horses and this also minimises the number of infected mites present.

Testing before treating significantly reduces wormer doses
Routinely testing for tapeworm every six months and only treating horses diagnosed with a burden significantly reduces the doses of wormer being administered to horses, as approximately 75% of horses in the UK are diagnosed with a low burden so do not require treatment.
Case study: testing small herds
Endurance rider Karen Corr’s four horses were tested for tapeworm using the EquiSal Tapeworm kit. One horse, Zee, was found to have a moderate/high tapeworm burden and treated, whilst the three other horses were low and did not need treatment. Six months later, all of Karen’s horses, including Zee, were diagnosed with a low tapeworm burden, so no treatment was needed. Karen’s experiences with EquiSal Tapeworm tells us that targeted tapeworm control has been effective on her yard. Using this approach, only one dose of tapeworm wormer has been necessary for one horse this year, and Karen has been able to only use wormers when they are needed. Avoiding ‘blanket’ use of wormers is an important factor in reducing the risk of resistance emerging. “I’m convinced EquiSal testing should be an important part of our worm control regime,” says Karen.
Case study: testing large herds
In 2016, Bransby Horses, which uses saliva testing for horses in its care as part of its worm control strategy, tested in Spring and Autumn as well as testing horses new to the premises. Only 22% of the 749 test results were borderline or moderate/high and required treatment. This resulted in a big reduction in wormer administered to the horses – 583 doses to be exact!
Certain horses are less prone to tapeworm burdens and graze alongside those with burdens without easily becoming infected. This is similar for other worm species where 80% of all worms are said to be present in 20% of horses. It is also interesting to note that horses with tapeworm burdens aren’t necessarily the same horses with a tendency to have high WEC results.
Reducing the risk of tapeworm infections
Although it can be difficult to influence management practices outside of your own field to prevent infection, it is best practice for horses in adjacent paddocks to be following the same worm control programme.
It is important to carry out routine paddock management, such as regular muck clearance, where muck is completely removed from grazing and adjacent areas, as well as field rotation and resting where possible. It is also important to restrict horses’ grazing while away from home, such as at show grounds. Lastly, ensure you know your horse’s accurate weight for correctly dosing wormers as under dosing can result in persistent burdens and continuous egg shedding.

This article first appeared in the March 2017 issue of equine magazine. An annual subscription to equine costs just £20 for 11 issues - visit the TheEquineStore.co.uk to take out a subscription now.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

11 Collecting Ring Rules You Should Remember

Most riders are civilised people, yet we’ve all encountered the few who seemingly forget all about polite good manners and even safety when they get into a collecting ring at a show or event! Being generous, you could say they’re affected by ‘stress’, or that their horse or pony is being somewhat ‘difficult’, but at a time of year when competitions are restricted to the confines of indoor or all-weather arenas, collecting ring etiquette is even more important, so we’ve got a timely reminder of the rules everyone should follow ...

1.    Always ride so that you meet an oncoming horse on the other rein left hand to left hand, which means the horse on the left rein will stay on the outside track and horse on the right rein will move in to the inside track.
Ideally riders should aim to ride all in the same direction, which at an increasing number of jumping shows, is now mandatory.

2.    Jump the warm up fences the correct way – white flag on the left, red flag on the right and look ahead to ensure you can jump – and land – safely. Remember too that you do not ‘own’ the practice fences whilst warming up!

3.    The horse in the faster pace has priority on the outside track, so if you are in a slower pace, stay on the inside track. Riders executing lateral work will expect priority, subject to polite commonsense.

4.    All halts should be well off the track and ideally mount and dismount outside of the collecting ring.

5.    It is not safe to lunge in an indoor collecting ring and most shows will expressly forbid it.

6.    There are times when you will need to announce to other riders what your intention is – for example – ‘passing on your left’ (when you come up behind another rider you can see is on a somewhat nervous or sharp horse) or ‘jumping the oxer’ or ‘medium on diagonal’, but always remember you do need to share the available space and be generous with the right of way where you can.

7.    Most riders will use voice commands to help warm up their horse, but some of these, as we all know, will mean the same thing to other horses and their riders will not appreciate your loud voice influencing their horse! Be as quiet as possible and tactful about timing.
The same thing applies to using your whip. Long schooling whips can seriously upset other horses and sharp smacks with a short whip are just as much of a problem. A collecting ring is for everyone, so think what you’re doing.

8.    Although it’s much nicer to stay under cover on a wet and windy day, horses and people standing about in a collecting ring is invariably not safe. Shows may well have a rule preventing this – and the same applies to helpers on foot. If you are not actively adjusting practice fences or adjusting tack, stay out of the way. ALL spectators should be in the viewing galleries, not the collecting ring.

9.    Give space to any rider clearly having a problem. Remember next time it could be you having an issue and the last thing you need is other competitors making it more difficult for your horse. However an indoor collecting ring means horses are in close proximity, so it is definitely not the place for a horse that may kick. Red ribbons will tell everyone that you know you have a problem and you will be liable for the consequences of any accident.

10.    If you do lose concentration and cut someone up, remember to say sorry! It’s easy to do and makes all the difference. If you are repeatedly seen to be selfish and rude, you may just find your entries are refused in the future.

11.    Finally, remember to say ‘thank you’ to the steward. He or she has given up a day to make it possible for the show to run. Don’t be ‘the collecting ring nightmare’; it’s much easier to remain polite and courteous and then everyone can have an enjoyable day!

Friday, 31 March 2017

10 Soundness Checks For Your Horse

Being aware of your horse’s health and well-being is vital, so spend some time assessing his soundness regularly, paying particular attention the day after a busy training session or show - or any time you suspect a problem. Start by standing him square, on level ground. Then go over his body from head to toe. 

1. Look for right–left symmetry. For example, the flat muscles at the cheeks should be equally developed. A bulge or a depression may indicate a dental problem.
2. Check the jaw’s grinding motion: Put one hand on your horse’s nose. With your other hand, lightly grasp his lower jaw and gently move it a little to one side and then the other. It should slide easily for a half-inch or so before your horse needs to open his mouth. Resistance may be a sign of discomfort from a dental issue or problem with the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull.

Neck and Back
3. Use your fingers to press lightly along the neck, withers and muscles that run down your horse’s back, a couple of inches either side of his spine. Examine one side, then the other. Look for asymmetrical muscle development and signs of soreness.
4. Test the range of motion through the neck: hold a carrot below your horse’s nose and slowly lower it to his front feet, getting him to stretch down and reach for it. Difficulty could indicate neck stiffness. Now move the carrot toward the centre of his chest to get him to bend on each side. Next bring the carrot back toward his elbow and then his hip, getting him to follow it with his nose. If his range of motion is restricted on one side, a back or neck problem may be the cause.
5. Put one hand on his neck just in front of his shoulder blade to act as a pivot point and gently bring his head around. Note any resistance you feel to each side.

Carrot stretches are a way of identifying stiffness in the
neck or back
Legs and Feet
6. Assess each leg from knee or hock to hoof. Look for swelling or other signs of asymmetry between left and right legs. Run your hands down one leg, comparing it to its opposite leg. Heat and swelling are classic signs of injury, but sensitivity to pressure is also telling. Note your horse’s reactions as you apply consistent and firm but gentle pressure to key structures, including the digital flexor tendons, suspensory ligament, splint bones and joints—fetlock, knee, hock and stifle.
7. Pick up each leg and gently move the joints of the lower limb through their normal range of motion, looking for greater-than-normal resistance. To check the knee joint, for example, lift your horse’s foreleg as if you were going to clean his hoof, then flex his knee by bringing his foot up toward his elbow.
8. Stand back and look at your horse’s feet. They should be symmetrical and balanced. Ideally, each coronary band is parallel to the ground when viewed from the front. As your horse steps forward, each hoof should land flat, not toe first or one side before the other, although conformation may influence the landing pattern at times. Uneven wear of a shoe suggests that the hoof isn’t meeting the ground symmetrically.
9. Look for cracks in the hoof wall and sole. Feel around the coronary bands and heels for sensitivity or swelling, including distension of the coffin joint.
10. Check the hoof itself with hoof testers. Reactions at certain areas may point to different types of problems. Sensitivity at the front of the foot or at the superficial heel (the part farthest to the back) suggests bruising, an abscess or a similar problem involving bones or other structures inside the foot.