Lameness is the most significant cause of loss of performance in the horse. The sooner it is detected the effects on performance are minimised.
It is clear that an obvious lameness will result in inability to perform intended work - whether that be dressage, jumping or simply hacking.
However, even subtle lameness very often causes major problems - compensatory mechanisms result in increased stresses in other limbs, back and sacroiliac areas with effects on core strength.
This may be reversible in the early stages but left for long enough these increased stresses cause significant pathology.
Conventional lameness assessment relies on the human eye and brain picking up on alterations in the pattern of the horse's movement - this is great for obvious lameness but fraught with problems in subtle and multi limb lameness. http://www.vettimes.co.uk/article/an-approach-to-d...
There has long been a need for a more objective method of assessment avoiding subjectivity and bias - gait analysis does just this..........it is totally objective and provides a permanent record which allows true before and after comparison - whether it be diagnostic nerve blocks or response to treatment.
It can also be used to monitor a horse's gait throughout the year - picking up on subtle changes that may otherwise be missed. Therefore early intervention can avoid significant injury - simply changes in shoeing or the use of physiotherapy may be required although sometimes a lameness investigation may be necessary.