However, because of the economic element to be reckoned with, it is of some value to be able to give a fairly accurate prognosis in the handling of cases of lameness, as in the majority of instances the treatment and manner of after-care are determined largely by the expense that any prescribed line of attention will occasion.
A case of acute bone spavin in a horse of little value is not generally treated in a manner that will incur an expense equivalent to one-half the value of the subject. The fact is always to be considered in such cases, that even where ideal conditions favor proper treatment, the outcome is uncertain. Where less than six weeks of rest can be allowed the animal, one affected with bone spavin would therefore not be treated with the expectation of obtaining good results, as six weeks’ time, at least, is necessary for a successful outcome. If the cost attending the enforced idleness of an animal of this kind is considered prohibitive for the employment of proper measures to affect a cure, and if lameness is slight, the animal should be given suitable work, but in cases of articular spavin in aged subjects, they should be humanely destroyed and not subjected to prolonged misery.
A thorough knowledge of the structure and functions of the affected parts is necessary to proceed in cases of lameness; likewise, the age, conformation and temperament of the subject need to be taken into consideration; the presence or absence of complications demand the attention; the kind of care the subject will probably receive directly influences the outcome; and the character of service expected of the subject, too, needs to be carefully considered before the ultimate outcome may reasonably be foretold.
The practitioner is often confronted with the problem of how best to handle certain cases. Will they do better under conditions where absolute quiet is enforced, or is it preferable to allow exercise at will? The temperament of the animal must be considered in such cases, and if a lame horse is too active and playful when given his freedom, exercise must be restricted or prevented, as the case may require. In cases of strains of tendons, during the acute stage, immobilization of the affected parts is in order. In certain sub-acute inflammatory processes or in instances of paralytic disturbance where convalescence is in progress, moderate exercise is highly beneficial.
Consequently, each case in itself presents an individual problem to be judged and handled in the manner experience has taught to be most effective, appropriate and practical, and the veterinarian should give due consideration to the comfort and welfare of the crippled animal as well as to the interests of the owner.
Etiology and occurrence.
In discussions of pathological conditions contributing to lameness in the horse, cause is generally classified under two heads—predisposing and exciting. It becomes necessary, however, to adopt a more general and comprehensive method of classification, herein, which will enable the reader to obtain a better conception of the subject and to more clearly associate the parts so grouped descriptively.