As a sore horse tries to escape the pain in his front feet and lower legs, he snatches them up quickly, which gives the “desired effect” of tremendous lift in the front, known as the “big lick.” Meanwhile, he tries to take as much weight as possible off his front feet by shifting his weight to his back feet, squatting down in the rear as he reaches beneath himself with his hind legs. The resulting gait has been described as “the praying mantis crawl.”
It is crucial to understand that there are different levels of being “sore” — from sensitivity to agony.
Here are some telltale signs:
• Tenderness or swelling on both front feet, or even the hinds. Soring is always bilateral.
• Scars or granulated bumps along the pasterns or near coronet band.
• Abnormal, wavy hair growth (following acid treatment) in pastern area.
• Horse resists handling of feet.
• Horse lies down frequently for extended periods.
• Horse shifts weight to hind feet, stands with all fours together, as if “on a quarter.”
• Exaggerated gait with characteristic pause at breakover (highest point of stride) as horse hesitates before returning sore foot to ground.
• Oozing of blood or serum from pasterns.
• Drags front toes, because of the pain of the concussion upon set down.
• Hocks carried low to the ground and twisting towards the outside when moving.
• Horse has difficulty walking, falls, resistant to getting up.