Delegates from across the length and breadth of the country gave a five star rating to the inaugural BHS LitoVet Equine Lameness Awareness Conference held at Gloucestershire’s Hartpury College on 21 March 2012.
Recognising that lameness is an issue all horse owners will face at some point in their horses’ lives, the British Horse Society joined forces with Lanes Health, the company behind joint supplement LitoVet to bring to delegates some of the latest thinking on the subject. Speakers Professor Clegg an orthopaedic specialist from Liverpool University, Independent Equine Nutritionist Dr Catherine Dunnett, Horses Inside Out founder Gillian Higgins and dressage trainer Adam Kemp FBHS provided delegates at the sell out conference with a truly insightful day.
Professor Clegg discussed the technological advances in diagnosing lameness over the past 10-15 years which range from X-Rays to MRI scanning and gave an insight into the advantages and limitations of each. Despite such advances he stressed the importance of the clinical hands on examination by a skilled veterinary surgeon.
Focusing on the structure and composition of joints, Dr Dunnett gave a presentation on the importance of managing nutrition to maintain performance and emphasised the need to use only supplements that have peer-reviewed scientific research supporting their claims. While the extra strain that obesity can place upon joints is widely accepted, Dr Dunnett explained that a further consequence includes the possible development of insulin resistance and cited studies have shown that this has been linked with certain developmental orthopaedic diseases.
To help delegates understand how the horse works Gillian Higgins gave a very visual presentation using videos and part of the horse’s skeleton to demonstrate the anatomically complex area of the horse’s back, sacroiliac joint and lumbar sacral junction. She highlighted uneven hind limb movement, compensation patterns and secondary symptoms and gave some guidance on exercises and stretches owners can do with their horses to aid mobility.
Following the lunch break the conference reconvened in Hartpury’s International arena where delegates were given a practical demonstration by Adam Kemp FBHS. Using two pairs of horses, the first of which comprising a five and eight year old that displayed perfect confirmation for dressage and the second of which included horses with ‘conformation faults'. Adam stressed the importance of training for soundness according to the horse’s age and conformation to avoid lameness.
Elizabeth Hughes, LitoVet product manager said: “Lameness affects all horses at some time in their lives and it is an area in which science is making great progress. We are delighted to have worked with The British Horse Society to bring to those who care for and train horses some of the latest thinking on lameness from some of the top experts on the subject, because the more that is known, the more likely we are to be able to keep our horses sounder for longer”.
Lee Hackett, Senior Executive of Welfare for The British Horse Society said: “The conference has been a huge success and our fantastic range of speakers ensured that all of us left with a lot more knowledge than we arrived with. Huge thanks are due to our speakers and also to Lanes Health, the company behind LitoVet, without whom the conference would not have been able to take place.”