Equine Thermographyby Reese Gray
What is Thermal Imaging? Simply stated, Equine Thermography is a non-contacting tool that measures surface heat patterns on the body of the horse and produces a picture; a wonderfully bright colored picture, using an infrared imaging and measurement camera to “see” and “measure” thermal energy that is emitted from the animal.Thermal, or infrared energy, is light that is not visible because its wavelength is too long to be detected by the human eye; it’s the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that we perceive as heat. Unlike visible light, in the infrared world, everything with a temperature above absolute zero emits heat. Infrared allows us to see what our eyes cannot.
The purpose of using thermal imaging in equine diagnosis is to pinpoint problems that may not always be indicated with other diagnostic tools. Additionally, many lameness issues can be diagnosed before any clinical signs are even apparent. For example, an ill fitted saddle can cause problems that may not be evident until damage is done to the horses back, shoulders, hips and legs. Horse saddle scans of the underside the horses back can help discover hot areas that lead to kissing spine or other suspensory problems.
Since animals can’t speak, it has been very difficult for owners and caretakers to truly identify hidden or masked conditions. Before Equine Thermography, locating a horse’s health problem might have been limited to observation or palpation, but with Equine Thermography, an abnormality can show tissue that’s stressed before the affected tissue becomes damaged.
• Localize hoof stress, bruising & abscess
• See patterns of saddle fit and rider balance
• Earlier recognition of training stress & injury
• Clues to pain source
• Non-Invasive and completely safe (no harmful radiation)
• Time Efficient – About 20-30 minutes for a full horse scan
• Scans can be done at your location, you won’t have to trailer
• Great tool for pre purchase exams to confirm there are no “hidden”
• Check saddle fitting and rider balance
• Monitoring horses in training to identify stressed areas that could cause potential injuries
• Identify damaged tendons, ligaments, Navicular, laminitis and the source of
• Musculoskeletal injuries
• Locate the source of miscellaneous strains, sprains and injuries
Speed of action is increasingly important in the equine world these days. The ability to obtain vital information quickly; to actually “see” problems in their early stages, has proven to be a tremendous asset. The quality of thermal imaging cameras has reached the point where they can determine less that a 1/10th of a degree temperature difference on a surface such as a horses body.
Thermal images can help determine pathology and other conditions that can adversely affect your horse’s equine health. Thermography is used in conjunction with a veterinary exam and other imaging tools to determine overall health and health issues.