It is "Lameness in Horses", by O.R. Adams. This book has been considered the bible on equine lameness for as long as I can remember.
Colorado-based Adams penned what was the first edition in 1962 - the year of my birth.
The first edition was reprinted three times before a revised second edition went on sale in 1966. My own copy is the third reprint of that edition, dated 1971.
It is now sitting on my desk beside its latest incarnation - the mighty sixth edition.
My 1971 copy is a 562-page reference work that one might consider to be a good-sized volume, but the latest tome is of biblical proportions.
It is a 1242-page leviathan that comes with a DVD with video clips and additional images. It is exceptionally well illustrated.
The sixth edition comes with a new title - "Adams and Stashak's Lameness in Horses" - and a new editor in Gary M. Baxter.
Baxter says Dr Ted Shastak's name has been added to the title to reflect his many contributions to the text over the last few editions.
Baxter confesses he did not quite realise the complexity of the endeavour when he agreed to edit the sixth edition, but the result is now out for all to see.
He said the primary aim of the edition was to update existing information and add new information without expanding the size of the book.
This, he said, resulted in re-organisation, consolidation and deletion of existing material in some cases.
Expansive tests on surgical procedures were condensed or eliminated to instead focus on lameness and not surgery in horses.
And when it comes to common maladies in horses, we all know where lameness fits in the overall equine scheme of things. Pretty much top of the list.
The comprehensiveness of this work is little short of phenomenal. It is focused, extensively illustrated and would surely have no challengers to the title as the bible on equine lameness.
One wonders what the late O.R. Adams would make of the journey his book has been on since his death.
Yes, it is technical, as one would expect from a veterinary reference book, but not to the point where horse owners would find themselves totally lost in their hunt for specific information.
Crucially, it is well indexed and the chapters sensibly organised and compartmentalised. It leads in with the functional anatomy of the horse's musculoskeletal system, then follows with conformation and movement.
It then looks at examination for lameness, including the history, visual exam, palpation and manipulation.
Old and new: the latest sixth edition dwarfs my earlier second edition.
The chapters roll on and on. For example, chapter eight explores, among other things, therapeutic trimming and shoeing. It deals with acupuncture and rehabilitation and physical therapy.
The next chapter explores occupational-related lameness conditions, covering thoroughbreds, endurance horses, racing quarter horses, western performance horses, jumping/eventing/dressage horses and show and pleasure horses.
Each has 10 or so pages devoted to exploring specific issues relating to these occupations. Even the draft horse is covered.
Adams and Stashak have much to be proud of in this book, as does editor Baxter for his substantial input.
Naturally, the excellent result is owed to the contribution of many more individuals. On my count, there were 44 contributors who offered their knowledge in specialty areas.
The chapters include extensive references, meaning studies on very specific areas of research can be sourced. In this modern age, nearly all are available online and even laymen who are unlikely to be members of such online databases can access reports on individual studies by paying a few dollars each.
An example of a video clip from Lameness in Horses: This video demonstrates three different approaches to the digital flexor tendon sheath in the forelimb of the horse. Limb positioning, anatomic landmarks used for needle placement, and volume of anesthetic used are illustrated.
As any horse owner will attest, that kind of money doesn't go far in the care and management of horses. I have no doubt that many horse owners will acknowledge that, and want to get a copy on their bookshelves.
For all those involved, take a much deserved bow. You have done O.R. Adams proud.
» Chapter 1 excerpt (PDF - 16MB)
Gary M. Baxter, VMD, MS, is a Professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Ted Stashak DVM, MS, is Professor of Surgery at Colorado State University. He is also President of the Veterinary Wound Management Society (VWMS), and has taught at the professional and graduate student levels, performed research and provided clinical service in the area of equine wound management and reconstructive surgery since 1973. He is presently the guest editor for a journal focusing on equine wound management. He also lectures nationally and internationally on this subject.
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