When you’re talking about evaluating a horse’s foot, a radiograph or X ray can tell you a whole lot more than just whether there’s a fracture or not. When the radiograph is taken to show soft tissue detail as well as bone, it can provide tons of information on the health of the various soft tissues within that foot.

Reading such radiographs takes a trained eye, and it’s an important part of evaluating the horse’s foot, especially when lameness exists. During the recent Bluegrass Laminitis Symposium, host Ric Redden, DVM, founder of the International Equine Podiatry Center, discussed radiograph interpretation for the audience of veterinarians and farriers.

Number one on his list of important points was that radiographs aren’t the be-all, end-all of diagnosing foot problems. They are but one part of the entire examination of that horse, which also includes physical examination, gait analysis, and possibly other diagnostic procedures. And as much as we might like a nice checklist of things to do for lameness examination, he says it isn’t that easy.

"Everybody wants a standard, but that’s the easy way out," he began. "We don’t need a standard, we need a standard way of thinking. When you make this evaluation a careful, systematic thinking and observation process, you’ll see a lot of things you might otherwise miss."

The Physical Examination
"The physical examination remains the most important aspect of evaluating the health of the foot," he stated. "The exam is tailored to the situation at hand, focuses on the demands of the cl