Horse lovers and vets have spoken out against the decision to fit a horse with a prosthetic limb, after seeing a video of the struggling animal posted on social media.
The clip, which appears to have originated from a veterinary clinic in Columbia, shows the horse being guided as it bears weight on the artificial foreleg.
H&H vet Karen Coumbe said she felt “quite horrified” by the video.
“Smaller animals such as dogs can often cope post-amputation, but personally I don’t feel it is fair, right or reasonable for a horse,” she said.
“Dogs mostly manage without the limb and just cope three-legged as false limbs and amputation stumps tend to become very sore.
“Personally, I feel this is the wrong thing for this horse and it is not something I would ever contemplate.”
Chrystin Roehler wrote on the I Love Veterinary Medicine Facebook page that all the amputation had succeeded in doing was “prolonging its life” but she felt the horse would suffer.
“The other healthy leg will bow a tendon, or founder in no time. Horses put 60-70% of their weight on the front legs,” she said“He won’t be comfortable in the prosthetic and will transfer all that weight on to his single front leg.
“You have to think of the quality of life not only the quantity of life. That horse will be in pain it’s whole life if they keep it up. Horrible decision really.”
Another user of the page, Sandra Wolford, said:“Horses are flight animals. This prosthetic is not a good choice for a horse.
“If you just watch him, the prosthetic doesn’t even stay on a straight path for him. Someone is going to have to be by his side constantly to ensure he doesn’t injure himself more with that thing.”
Sue Griffin commented that she believed the procedure had been undertaken as a “result of someone’s arrogance.”
“I feel so sad for this poor horse who is someone’s experiment which has cheapened its quality of life,” she said.
Dr Madeleine Campbell, director of Equine Ethics Consultancy, told H&H that one of the frameworks vets used to assess welfare decisions was known as the “five freedoms”.
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“The video which is available online causes me concern as it seems likely that the horse’s freedoms from discomfort and distress and its freedom to express normal behaviour are being compromised,” she said.
“From an ethical point of view, one has to ask why the prosthesis is being fitted and whether any benefits of doing so — for example salvaging a horse for breeding purposes — outweigh the harms being caused to the horse.
“Based on the video evidence, it seems unlikely that the application of the prosthetic limb is in the horse’s best interests.”
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