An accurate and comprehensive diagnosis is essential in determining appropriate individual treatment and rehabilitation protocols. Regardless of where an injury or lameness is located, we evaluate the entire horse using:
Our professional approach allows us to diagnose complex lameness issues that are not visible to the inexperienced eye.
Equine athletes have tremendous stresses placed on their musculoskeletal systems. Lameness is one of the most important causes of equine poor performance. Subtle or subclinical lameness problems often result in a horse that is “stiff” or has a “bad attitude” which can cause training or behavior problems.
A thorough, systematic lameness exam looks at the entire horse, regardless of where an injury or lameness appears to be. Secondary problems often exist as a result of compensation for a primary injury.
The exam begins with observation of the horse’s behavior, posture and muscle development. All limbs and muscle groups are palpated for soreness, swelling or atrophy and hoof testers are applied. Range of motion of joints, neck and back are evaluated as well as sensitivity of diagnostic acupuncture points. Flexion tests may be performed and the horse’s movement patterns are evaluated on the lunge line or under saddle.
Diagnostic nerve or joint blocks may be performed to determine the source of pain. Diagnostic imaging such as X-ray or ultrasound is performed to determine which structure is affected, allowing effective treatment.
Biomechanical and conformation analysis plays a significant role in performance medicine evaluations. We use movement biomechanics to provide a complete lameness diagnosis, especially in complex lameness cases. Movement evaluation exams can analyze your horse’s preferred or ‘compensatory’ movement patterns and allow us to recommend appropriate rehabilitation exercises once the primary lameness problems are addressed.
Hoof balance is also an important part of movement biomechanics. Regular hoof balance X-rays allow us to visualize the bone and joint alignment within the hoof capsule. These X-rays provide critical information about the joint angles, bone density, and alignment within the foot, allowing objective comparisons over time. This is important to help your farrier optimize weight distribution on the hoof and to prevent injury.
We are committed to providing the most up-to-date and highest quality imaging available. We have had specialized training in the latest digital radiography and advanced digital ultrasound techniques.
Imaging technology has rapidly advanced and resolution is constantly improving, allowing us to more accurately image deeper structures such as the neck, back, and foot. A combination of X-ray and ultrasound imaging gives us a more complete picture than either modality does alone. X-ray evaluates boney structures, while ultrasound excels at the evaluation of tendons, ligaments, cartilage and the surface of bone.
The quality of the x-ray image is directly related to technique and the quality of the equipment. Our CanonTM digital systems provide superior resolution, allowing us to rapidly obtain an accurate diagnosis. The larger, more dense areas such as the head, neck, spine and stifles can now be accurately imaged with our system.
Ultrasound imaging is highly operator dependent. A high quality ultrasound machine combined with extensive training (ISELP) allows us to obtain diagnostic quality images and properly interpret them, providing a more complete evaluation than X-rays alone. In past years, ultrasound evaluation of soft tissues included tendon and ligament studies. Now we have the capability to do high resolution imaging of the stifle, foot, neck, back, and internal aspect of the sacroiliac joints. Ultrasound guided injections allow precise location of injured or inflamed structures for treatment.
The Wellington Equine team performs extensive pre-purchase exams using state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment. A pre-purchase exam is a thorough, in-depth evaluation that provides an overall picture of the horse’s current health, soundness, fitness and evaluates existing and potential lameness problems.
A standard pre-purchase exam includes:
Additional X-rays, ultrasound examination of certain structures, blood work, and endoscopic exams may also be indicated, based on the physical exam. Drug testing is recommended in most cases.
The practitioners at Wellington Equine represent the buyer exclusively and provide the buyer with ‘the facts’ from the pre-purchase exam. The final decision to purchase or decline a sales horse is then made by the buyer. A comprehensive report, all images (radiographic and ultrasound) and video are provided to the buyer and his regular veterinarian.
Drs. Oakley and Moretta are available to do pre-purchase exams both in the US and overseas.
If lameness has been ruled out and your horse is not performing to the best of his abilities, we can evaluate your horse with in-depth medical and behavioral evaluations. We will conduct a thorough physical exam including the ocular, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine, neurological and muscular systems.
A complete ocular exam will detect both congenital and acquired ocular diseases. Certain breeds of horses, such as the Rocky Mountain Horse, have a high incidence of congenital ocular disease. Recurrent uveitis is an example of an acquired ocular disease.
Endoscopic exams can detect mechanical or infectious causes of upper respiratory tract problems, including laryngeal paralysis and sub-epiglottic cysts. Lower respiratory problems such as Inflammatory Airway Disease can be evaluated with procedures such as bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL).
Cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart beats) are not uncommon in the equine athlete and can severely affect your horse’s performance. Evaluation with an EKG or cardiac ultrasound can determine the cause of the problem.
Gastroscopy involves evaluation of the stomach with a 3-meter endoscope and enables diagnosis and evaluation of the severity of gastric ulceration.
Many of our equine athletes have conditions such as Cushings disease, Metabolic Syndrome, or muscle diseases such as polysaccharide storage myopathy (EPSSM). Physical evaluation and blood tests can detect these diseases, which cause poor performance, allowing proper treatment and management.
Acupuncture, spinal manipulation and other holistic approaches are used in synergy with traditional medicine to enhance diagnosis and treatment. Acupuncture provides multiple benefits to the horse and can aid in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of equine conditions. With a correct evaluation, many medical and lameness conditions can be treated effectively with acupuncture.
When used as part of a diagnostic evaluation, acupuncture can be an effective tool in determining the cause of lameness or poor performance. The interpretation of the ‘reactivity’ or sensitivity of specific acupuncture points can be used as an aid in the diagnosis and location of lameness and medical conditions. Certain reactive points can be diagnostic for foot, hock, sacroiliac problems or GI disorders.
Equine spinal manipulation (often referred to as “Chiropractic“) treats joints and soft tissues that have a reduced range of motion or are restricted. Areas of restriction and decreased joint mobility can lead to muscle spasms, inflammation of nerves and decreased function of muscles and joints, resulting in pain.
A spinal adjustment causes reflex relaxation of affected muscles and increased spinal mobility. Safe and effective spinal manipulation requires an in depth veterinary knowledge of anatomy and joint biomechanics and does not require excessive force. A complete musculoskeletal exam and imaging, if indicated, should be performed before spinal adjustment.