The Lame Horse - Second Edition

by James R. Rooney, DVM
The Russell Meerdink Company
Neenah, Wisconsin
Available online at:
Hardbound, illustrated, $29.95
Reviewed by Diana Mead Jordan
This review was published in the November, 1996 issue of ANVIL Magazine, and was updated on July 15, 1998.

This newly revised, updated and expanded edition of Dr. Rooney's classic is everything you'd expect, and more. Dr. Rooney has taken his substantial scholarly knowledge about the horse, about physics and math and produced a lively, easy-to-read discussion of equine lameness. He begins with the normal foreleg, describing the muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones involved. He illustrates with ingenious, simple models how the limb works relative to gravity. Then he launches into causes and descriptions of specific foreleg lameness, treatments and advice. He speaks to the reader directly. He continues similarly with the hind leg. His discussion of the hoof is extensive, addressing the long-toe, low-heel pattern with details of the consequences. Navicular syndrome and laminitis are covered with radiographs and photography. He comments on shoeing procedures with concern that the periople is often rasped away, leading to cracks in the hoof wall. This veterinarian has studied the effects of shoeing and has a good deal to say about it, concluding that a good rule of thumb is short toe and light weight. He even suggests innovating a tough plastic that could be painted on the trimmed bearing edges of the hoof wall to prevent breaking up. He touches on nutrition, concluding that the worst nutritional diseases of the horse are too much nutrition and over-feeding. Dr. Rooney is also concerned with serious effects of footing on the soundness of horses. Since Rooney is a scientist, he knows that tracks and footing can be developed to benefit the horse (well illustrated); yet he points out at length that most footing is put down on whims.

He describes the natural, unshod hoof of the wild horse as one that will cut into the footing as it leaves the ground, and he expresses concern that many shod horses are put in positions where they cannot cut into the ground, thus causing instability and strain on tendons and joints (vividly illustrated in the book). This discussion is especially enlightening, as it was written almost twenty years ago and is now being aired in the literature as "something new."

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