Limb Sensitivity refers to the sensation perceived by horses in their legs. When the sensation is increased above normal limits it is called hypersensitivity, when the sensation is below normal limits it is called hyposensitivity. Hypersensitivity can be produced by a range of normal occurrences, such as insect stings, accidental self-inflicted injuries, skin infections etc. Hyposensitivity could result from traumatic or surgical cutting of the nerves in that area of the limb (i.e. neurectomy.)

Hypersensitisation is the term used to define the artificial production of hypersensitivity. It is contrary to horse welfare and fair play, as it could encourage horses to jump more carefully and higher.

Limb Sensitivity Examinations

During FEI Events, limb sensitivity examinations or assessments of the horse are based primarily on a clinical examination using palpation (manual pressure) and observation. They may also involve the use of a thermographic camera (an infra-red camera used to detect abnormal heat patterns on the skin). An examination for lameness, such as a trot-up, is not involved.

If the Examining Veterinarians observe excessively sensitive, or insensitive limbs (an abnormal limb sensitivity), they will inform the Person Responsible (rider) or their Representative (e.g. the groom) and the opportunity is available to withdraw the Horse from competition, without further consequences. If the Horse is not withdrawn, the Examining Veterinarians will proceed to a final examination with the Ground Jury and the Veterinary Delegate to decide whether the horse should be allowed to continue in the competition or be disqualified; a video record is shot of the examination and findings.  Horses with hypersensitive limbs are disqualified on the basis of horse welfare and fair play.

There is no appeal against the decision of the Ground Jury, following a Final Examination, to disqualify a horse for abnormal limb sensitivity examination. However, if a horse is disqualified more than 12 hours prior to a competition for which it is qualified to compete, the Person Responsible may request that the horse be re-examined. Such a request must be made within 30 minutes of the notification by the Ground Jury of the horse’s disqualification.

For further information FEI – 2017 VETERINARY REGULATIONS