The study was performed to obtain a detailed insight into the load and time shifting mechanisms of horses with unilateral weight-bearing forelimb lameness. Reversible lameness was induced in 11 clinically sound horses by applying a solar pressure model. Three degrees of lameness (subtle, mild and moderate) were induced and compared with sound control measurements. Vertical ground reaction force-time histories of all four limbs were recorded simultaneously on an instrumented treadmill. Four compensatory mechanisms could be identified that served to reduce structural stress, i.e. peak vertical force on the affected limb: (1) with increasing lameness, horses reduced the total vertical impulse per stride; (2) the diagonal impulse decreased selectively in the lame diagonal; (3) the impulse was shifted within the lame diagonal to the hindlimb and in the sound diagonal to the forelimb; (4) the rate of loading and the peak forces were reduced by prolonging the stance duration. Except in the diagonal hindlimb, where peak vertical forces increased slightly in the moderate lameness condition, no equivalent compensatory overload situation was observed in the other limbs. Specific force and time information of all four limbs allow the unequivocal identification of the affected limb.