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Incidence, causes and outcomes of lameness cases in a working military horse population: a field study

Putnam, J.R.C.; Holmes, L.M.; Green, Martin J.; Freeman, S.L.


J.R.C. Putnam

L.M. Holmes

Professor of Cattle Health & Epidemiology

Professor of Veterinary Surgery


Reasons for performing study: Lameness is a common problem in the horse. Despite this, information on the incidence of lameness in horses in the UK is restricted to studies of lameness in performance horses, racehorses or referral hospital populations.

Objectives: To determine the overall incidence and common causes of lameness in a working horse population and incidence, duration and outcome of conditions observed.

Study design: Prospective questionnaire study.

Methods: Questionnaires were used to record lameness episodes in 294 horses in an equine military establishment. Information recorded included age, years of service, type of work, causal lesion, time taken to return to work and outcome. Lameness problems could be reported by any staff involved in the horses' care and were diagnosed by a veterinary surgeon or qualified farrier. Trends between lame and nonlame populations were compared using Chi-square analysis. Lameness diagnoses were grouped and analysed by disease category.

Results: Completed questionnaires for 273 horses were analysed. The mean monthly incidence of lameness was 2.1%, equivalent to an annual rate of 25.4 cases per 100 horses per annum, with a mean of 1.2 lameness episodes per horse in the lame population. Horse age and duration of service were not significantly different between lame and nonlame populations. The most common diagnoses were cellulitis (18.6%), skin wounds (16.3%) and foot/shoeing problems (11.6%) and 88% of cases had returned to previous levels of work by the conclusion of the study.

Conclusions: This initial field study showed that lameness is a common occurrence in this working military horse population and the majority of cases make a full return to work. The most common causes of lameness identified in this study and outcomes of these conditions differ from existing literature.

Potential relevance: This study highlights the need for further studies of lameness in the wider horse population.


Putnam, J., Holmes, L., Green, M. J., & Freeman, S. (2014). Incidence, causes and outcomes of lameness cases in a working military horse population: a field study. Equine Veterinary Journal, 46(2),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 1, 2013
Online Publication Date Aug 30, 2013
Publication Date Mar 1, 2014
Deposit Date Dec 1, 2016
Publicly Available Date Dec 1, 2016
Journal Equine Veterinary Journal
Print ISSN 0425-1644
Electronic ISSN 2042-3306
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 46
Issue 2
Keywords horse; lameness; working population; incidence
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Putnam, J. R. C., Holmes, L. M., Green, M. J. and Freeman, S. L. (2014), Incidence, causes and outcomes of lameness cases in a working military horse population: A field study. Equine Veterinary Journal, 46: 194–197, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


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