We’re all familiar with the old adage “no foot, no horse,” but the results of the latest British National Equine Health Survey (NEHS) suggest that lameness is three times more likely to be caused by conditions in the limb rather than problems in the foot.
The results are consistent with previous NEHS survey findings, showing evidence rather than opinion is now being generated by report, helping owners and experts to understand and improve the health of the country’s 944,000 horses.
Blue Cross, a British animal welfare charity, runs NEHS in May each year, in partnership with the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA). It is sponsored by SPILLERS and Zoetis and supported by the U.K.’s leading equestrian organizations and charities. This year saw a 35% increase in participation compared to 2014, with survey records returned for almost 15,000 horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules.
The horse’s foot is fundamental to soundness and performance, but NEHS results have shown consistently that limb lameness, as opposed to foot lameness, is in fact the biggest syndrome affecting horses. In the latest survey, conducted in May, 18% of equids were recorded as lame. Of those, 13.5% were recorded as suffering from lameness associated with osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (13.9% in 2014 and 14.8% in 2013). Meanwhile foot lameness was recorded in 4.5% of returns, a similar figure to previous years.
“NEHS is now producing important evidence that is replacing subjective opinion,” said Josh Slater, BVSc, BVM&S, PhD, Dipl. ECEIM, MRCVS, of the Royal Veterinary College and a member of