Longeing is part and parcel of standard lameness exams, as traveling on a circular path often accentuates low-grade lameness. In an effort to better understand the accuracy of visual lameness assessments of horses being longed at the trot, researchers analyzed conclusions recently reached by a group of equine practitioners.

The research team applied inertial sensors and classified 23 horses as forelimb-lame, hind-limb-lame, or sound based on objective standards measuring symmetry trotting on a straight line. Additionally, the team videotaped each horse (in its baseline lameness state or with induced lameness) longeing at the trot on soft or hard surfaces in both directions.

Eighty-six veterinarians (half defined as experienced equine orthopedic clinicians and half as less experienced) then viewed 60 recordings of the subjects before identifying the lamest limb presented and grade from 0 (sound) to 5 (nonweight-bearing lameness).

The team found there was poor agreement among less experienced veterinarians and moderate agreement between more experienced practitioners. In addition, all participants identified induced forelimb lameness more accurately (74%) than induced hind-limb lameness (37%).

“The main conclusion of this study is that evaluating lameness in horses during longeing is difficult, as shown by the low agreement between veterinarians,” explained Marie Rhodin, DVM, PhD, of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala. “The rapid movement of the horse and the low resolution of the human eye make it difficult. We can’t even see with our eyes that a galloping horse’s four feet do indeed leav