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Initial Assessment: 1) Static

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

For my next few posts, I will be talking you through the initial assessment process and how I am able to build a good picture of what is going on with your horse or dog.


To begin with, the owner will be asked to stand their horse or dog square and still. I will look at the animal from all angles, observing their general body condition to start. This includes things like their bodyweight and muscle mass distribution, the condition of their coat and their overall behaviour. I will look for any signs of pain such as shifting their weight off of a sore limb and how they hold their back.

Lord Sonny of the manor presenting a beautiful square stance for me.

I will then compare proportions such as the forequarters and the hindquarters, as well as the head and neck size and length. Next, I will assess angles of the joints. For example, many horses have very straight hindlimbs at the stifle and hock, which can cause excessive forces through the hindlimb compared to a well angled limb. This is the case for Molly in the picture below.

When looking at the limbs, I will also assess whether the animal stands with a wide or narrow stance and where they place the limbs in relation to the body. For example, many dogs that prefer to shift their weight onto the forelimbs will have their forelimbs placed underneath them and their hindlimbs out far behind them. They often do this to avoid putting lots of weight on their hindlimbs, which can be for many reasons.

Caper tends to stand with quite a wide stance behind with his hocks (heels) slightly turned in and his toes pointing out.

Then I will look at the animal from the front and from behind. Here, I often asses limb angulation, hoof placement and muscle symmetry or asymmetry.

All of these pointers will give me a great blueprint plan of what to look for when the horse is moving (dynamic assessment) and when I am feeling the horse (palpation), which all together, along with information from the owner and case history, will help me to create a treatment plan to move forwards with. In my next post, I will discuss dynamic assessment.

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