Hoof Lameness Questions

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Trimming

Hoof Lameness

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Q: Recently purchased a 6 yr old quarter horse. When we got him home, he was sound. He was trotting around the paddock with my other horse quite a bit, and after a few hours, we noticed he was lame on his left front when he trotted. He is not lame at the walk, and he stands normally with his weight evenly distributed. He will stand quietly on the lame leg when I pick up the opposite foot. On the lunge line, he is more lame going to the left than the right (trotting). There is no heat or swelling anywhere on his legs and no heat in his feet. Could this be a stone bruise (there are quite a few rocks in the paddock), or the result of a kick from my other horse higher up?

A: Just based on your description of him being sound when he arrived and then going lame after trotting around your paddock, I’d have to agree that it is possible that he managed to bruise himself on a stray stone. It sounds like you performed a thorough check for any obvious signs of heat or swelling and in the absence of anything else out of the ordinary, a stone bruise sounds likely. I would think that a kick would have left some sign such as a soreness to the touch or swelling at the very least. Another possibility would be a muscle strain at his shoulder or a bruise to a bone from a kick.

If you think it could be a stone bruise, you may wish to protect the sole with a pad (leather, plastic, cardboard) or even better would be a slip-one boot such as an Easyboot. Here are a few sites for slip-on shoes/boots

http://www.equineperformanceproducts.com/easyboot.htm (the plain Easyboot-$35.00)
http://www.swisshorseboot.de/com/html4/index.html

http://www.davismanufacturing.com/products/barrier_boot.html

So, unfortunately, the answer to your questions is the non-definitive “maybe” to either a stone bruise or an injury related to a kick or strain. If you have access to hoof testers, then it should be a simple matter to determine if a bruise to the sole is the cause. Then a pad or other form of sole protection should help alleviate the pain as well as provide protection while the bruise heals.

Your farrier should be able to help you determine if it is a sole bruise and your vet should be able to locate the problem if it is not. The most important thing would be to make a definite determination of the cause so that you can address it in order to allow it to heal and to prevent another injury that results from the horse compensating for the original injury.

Good luck with your new horse and I wish him a most speedy recovery.

 

Q:17 year horse hoofs trimmed to short then foundered laid around 3 weeks after 3 months is up and walking can he be speeded to recover. 

A: Probably not. Founder is a very serious event and the horse will need plenty of time to recover. This process should not be rushed. A couple of factors affecting the length of time it takes for him to recover include his overall physical condition and how much damage he incurred as a result of the founder event. You may wish to discuss this with your vet and farrier, as together they should be able to assist you in setting a recovery schedule for getting your horse back on its feet.

Best of luck to you and your horse.

 

Q: What are some things that could cause sudden lameness right after shoeing?

A: The first thing I would suggest is to make a quick but thorough examination of the horse and particularly any affected feet to be sure there are no signs of a fresh injury such as a puncture to the sole or frog.

Things that could cause a sudden lameness right after a shoeing:

If you cannot find any obvious non-shoeing related reason for the lameness, then I would recommend calling the farrier who put the shoes on the horse. They should be happy to return (immediately) and help diagnose the problem. If it is related to their work, the farrier should make the necessary corrections without additional charges. If it turns out that the problem is not related to the farrier’s work, then at the very least, an offer to compensate the farrier for their time would be in order.

As in any situation where a horse comes up lame, speed is of the essence in diagnosing and treating the problem in order to allow the horse to heal and relive it of the pain associated with the lameness.

Thank you for the question. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q:  have recently acquired a 6 yr old quarter horse mare that every time she starts to trot, starts out ok, but with a few feet drops her head to the ground, and then goes about 10 - 20 ft and dead stops. She does the same thing in a canter. Her previous owner, a 12 yr old girl used to fall off alot because of this. I do not think the horse is doing it intentionally though, it may be off balance. She currently has front shoes only. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks

 A: Since this problem precedes your becoming the new owner, my first suggestion would be to discuss this with the people who sold you the horse. It would be nice to know when the problem first occurred and what steps, if any, were taken in attempting to correct the situation. If the horse already behaved this way when they got her, then you should try to get as much history on the horse as possible.

You may also want to experiment with a different type of bridle and bit (other tack also). Maybe she has been trained using one particular type and if you are using something she is not used to, this could be confusing her and causing her to react this way.

Next I would suggest having the horse examined by your farrier to be sure the horse’s feet are trimmed correctly and that she is not overly long between trimmings. Horses wearing shoes on their front feet only is a very common thing and I would find it hard to believe that this is causing the problem.

If the farrier determines that her feet are fine, then I would call the vet and have the horse examined to see if there is any physical ailment causing her to behave this way. However, I would think that this would have shown up in a pre-purchase examination during an observance of how she moved in her various gaits.

You say that, “I do not think the horse is doing it intentionally though, it may be off balance.” If by this you mean that her feet are not trimmed correctly, then the farrier should take care of this. If, on the other hand, what you are dealing with is a conformation problem, then again, the farrier may be able to help alleviate the situation.

I would also suggest trying to find and speaking with the people who are responsible for her earlier training. Perhaps the mare is responding to a “cue” that you are not aware of giving. An examination of her early training may provide the clues needed to unravel this mystery.

If the horse exhibits no obvious signs of injury or lameness, and is pleasant to be around otherwise, then I would think that with the help of your farrier and vet you should be able to determine what is causing her to behave this way.

I hope I’ve been able to gives you some points to consider. Please feel free to contact me again if I can be of further assistance. Best of luck and if you get the chance, I'll be interested in hearing what you find out.

   

Q: I just purchased a 9 yr. old Arabian gelding - He is stumbling and the previous owner swears he never stumbled - Help!!!!!!!

A:  Stumbling is not only a nuisance, but it can be downright life-threatening to both horse and rider.

The first thing I would check is to be sure that your horse’s feet are properly trimmed. A horse with feet that are not balanced is more likely to experience changes to its gaits. The importance of a proper trim/shoeing cannot be overstated. A lot of the time a stumbling  problem is eliminated simply by having the horse trimmed/shod correctly. Your farrier will also most likely want to conduct a thorough examination of your horse to determine any obvious causes for your horse’s condition.

If it is practical, you might ask the previous owner for the name of his/her farrier so you can find out how the horse was being set up. If that farrier knows the hoof lengths and angles used on your horse, then it should be a simple matter of your farrier trimming the horse to those specifications. This is the main advantage of keeping a written record hoof settings.

Once trimming/shoeing problems have been ruled out, then there are any number of possible causes for a horse to stumble. I’ll list a few here:

I think it is worth mentioning again that you will want to be sure that your horse is properly trimmed. Even a ¼ inch difference in hoof length and/or a couple of degrees difference in the hoof angle can cause dramatic changes to the way a horse travels.

If a horse just begins to stumble out of the blue, then you really need to have a knowledgeable farrier examine your horse. Once you have been able to determine the reason for the stumbling, then you and your farrier should be able to develop a hoof care plan to get your horse back on its feet.

I wish you the best in resolving your horse’s problem.

Q: Hi--About one month ago my shoer saw a bruise on my yearling's front hoof.  She would favor it somewhat when she walked and when she stood she would rest her hoof on her toe.  She seemed to be getting better and now she started resting on her toe again the last couple of days. Could the bruise still be bothering her or could it be something more serious?  My shoer will be coming out in a few days.  Is there anything I can do for a bruised hoof?  How long do they normally take to heal?  Thank you for your time.

A: Hello,

I’m sure you understand that without actually examining your horse that it is impossible for me to state for certain what is happening, but from your description of the events, this is where I would begin my search.

If your horse is beginning to favor the same foot as before, then it suggests that perhaps the bruise, and more specifically, whatever else besides the bruise was injured, is the cause of this problem.

Additionally, whenever a horse is reluctant to put a foot squarely on the ground, it is possible that the problem may extend beyond a simple bruise. Therefore I would suggest having the hoof examined at the earliest opportunity.

Anytime a horse begins to favor a foot, you should always make a thorough examination of the entire lower leg structure to be sure the injury is confined just to the hoof and to be sure it is only a bruise. Even then, it is not uncommon for a bruise alone to lead to an abscess.

If you are comfortable working around her feet and she is used to you handling her feet and will stand quietly, then and only then, should you attempt to see if you can feel any heat in the lower limb. It is simply too dangerous otherwise. In certain cases, simple thumb pressure to a tender sole is enough to establish the location of an abscess. BE AWARE: Even a little pressure exerted on an abscess may be EXTREMELY PAINFUL and may cause even the most gentlest of horses to react violently. If this is not something you are familiar with doing, then leave it to your farrier or vet. The danger is real and not to be taken lightly.

The length of time it takes a bruised sole to heal depends on the severity of the injury and the amount of time allowed for it to heal before going back to work. A simple test with hoof testers should provide an idea as to the severity of the injury as well as helping to determine how the healing is progressing. I would suggest that the time it takes for a bruise to fully heal would be measured in week (s) rather than days.

One should always carefully inspect the site of the bruise in order to determine if in fact there has not been a puncture or crack in the sole that will allow an infection to become established. This examination should extend to all parts of the lower limb, at the very least.

Frequently, a bruise will lead to an abscess that may cause a lameness that seems to be getting better, only to start to become worse again as the infection spreads under the sole.

Sometimes these abscesses will open and drain of their own accord and the horse appears to be getting better, only to have the situation worsen when the abscess closes and once again begins to fester.

I would suggest having someone examine your horse’s hoof at the earliest opportunity to be sure that an abscess is not causing her problem. If left untreated, not only is the horse in pain, but the longer it takes discover the true nature of the problem and begin a treatment program, the longer the recovery time is going to be.

While I don’t wish to be an alarmist, I do think that anytime a horse begins to get worse, then immediate action needs to be taken. If there is an abscess, then it needs to be treated and if it is not the problem, then the real problem needs to be identified so it can be treated. Of course, it could be a case of simply going back to work too soon and not allowing enough time for the bruise to heal, which your vet or farrier should be able to discern.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance. I wish you and your horse the speediest of recoveries.

Q: My horse has suddenly gone lame, especially on the lunge when the lame foot is on the inside of the circle.  I was at a show and he stood on a big stone, the lameness has been since then.  He is a full TB and has very flat feet and crack really badly. There is heat in the foot and swelling in the leg as well.  I think  it is likely to be a bruised sole, but would welcome your ideas and how I should treat it?  

A: I’m sorry to hear of your horse’s hoof problem. While it is impossible to provide an accurate diagnosis without having the opportunity to examine the horse, from your description of the horse going lame immediately after stepping on the stone, a bruised sole would be a logical consideration.

Additionally, with the appearance of swelling and heat in the leg, I would suggest having your farrier and/or vet take a look to confirm your diagnosis and to determine if the injury is confined just to the sole.

It is possible that there is more than just a simple bruise involved, especially considering the overall condition (flat feet and cracks) of the feet. Depending the results of their examination of the foot, your farrier may want to consult with your vet in order to come up with a treatment that will take into consideration the swelling and heat that have accompanied the injury to the sole.

One reason to have your farrier examine the hoof is to be sure that if the sole has been punctured or cracked, that this issue will be addressed. Along this same train of thought, you will need to be alert for possible abscesses that may form as a result of the bruising.

The range of treatment for a sole bruise is largely dependant on the severity of the injury. A simple bruise may require nothing more than moving the horse to softer ground to allow the bruise to heal. More serious cases may require shoes and/or pads in order to make the horse more comfortable while allowing the bruise to heal.

It is important to note that even a simple bruise is going to take time to heal and the more severe the injury, the more time it will take to heal. Rest is going to be a big part of any treatment program involving a bruised sole.

I think the best advice I can offer is to suggest you consult with your farrier and veterinarian at the first opportunity. Hopefully, they will confirm your diagnosis and tell you that all you have to deal with is a stone bruise that can be treated with a pad or shoe (if the horse is not shod) and offer a course of action to deal with the swelling and heat that will get your horse back on solid footing in the shortest possible time.

Best of luck to you and your horse. Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

Q: Maybe you can help me with my horse. He started several weeks ago with being very slightly off on right fore.  Came and went and he seemed to work out of it.  I was checking his feet and noticed frog very ragged and both front heels seemed high- he definitely wasn't getting any frog ground contact with the right front.  Farrier was out last week for scheduled trim and reset shoes.  I mentioned heels seemed high-right more than left, so for him to see what he thought and do what he thought best.  Wasn't there for the trim, but next day horse was extremely sore at the trot in soft arena.  I looked at his feet and noticed deep       in center of frog that ran between heel bulbs.  Thought maybe he had thrush in there that caused more lameness now since farrier had obviously lowered heels and frog was getting better ground contact.  So I started Epsom salt soaks and applied thrush buster to area.  Kept him in for a few days and lameness improved.  Then turned him out in dry hard paddock and next day very lame right front at trot.  Had another farrier look at him a few days later,  he tested all nails-no obvious pain.  He said foot was trimmed too short, and shoe was too small and was sitting inside hoof at heel with no room for hoof expansion.  He removed shoe and replaced with properly fitting shoe with pad.  Said give it a few days to see if it helps.  Its only been 2 days (1 week 2 days since original trim)  but horse still very lame at trot.  Could this lameness be from too short trim.  Its been over a week since trim with no real improvement.  Vet has been called but can't see horse until next week.  Could lameness be from trimming heels too aggressively rather than bringing them down slowly?  Horse seems to painful in heels and heel bulbs on that foot look slightly swollen.  Thanks for any help. 
Ellen

A: Ellen,

I applaud you for you perseverance in working to get your horse back on its feet.

It is very possible for an improperly trimmed hoof  (too long heels for example) to result in lameness. If a hoof is not trimmed correctly, as it grows out, the imbalance will often become more pronounced, with lameness being the result.

I suggest that a written record of the hoof lengths and angles be kept for each horse and recorded every time the hooves are trimmed.

Hoof lengths and angles are not used to decide how to trim a horse’s hooves to a balanced state, but instead, once the horse’s feet are balanced, these numbers provide the horse owner and the farrier with an easy way to be sure the hooves are trimmed the same way every time, thereby maintaining consistency.

Once you know how your horse’s feet need to be trimmed in order for it to perform at its best, you now have a way to see if the heels or toes are getting too long or if they have been trimmed too short. Plus, I’m sure you can see the advantages in being able to tell a new farrier exactly what it takes to keep your horse sound as well as knowing what settings have been tried that may not have produced the desired results.

A shoeing record like this: http://www.antelopepress.com/horseshoe_record_book.htm

is simple to use, but whether you use it or make up one of your own, the important thing is for you to know what it takes to trim your horse to a balanced state.

If your farrier does not measure the toe lengths with a rule of some sort and does not use a hoof gauge ($17.00) to record the hoof angle, then ask them for an alternative method that will allow you to be sure the feet are being trimmed the same way each time and that will allow you to tell another farrier how to duplicate the results. This is information that you need to know and have on hand just for situations such as you are experiencing.

I would think that if there was a problem with thrush, you would have smelled it long before your horse went lame considering the attention you pay to your horse’s hooves.

A sound horse should not become lame as the result of a trim. If your horse was only slightly off on the right fore before trimming, then it should not be extremely sore immediately afterwards.

If the hoof was trimmed too short, the shoe too small and then set inside the hoof at the heel, that farrier owes you and your horse an explanation. Any of those three conditions has the potential to cause serious lameness problems and can be easily avoided.

I assume the second farrier also checked the other foot in the pair to be sure that it was fitted properly with the correct size shoe.

 If your horse’s heels were too long it is entirely possible for that to be the reason it was slightly off before the first farrier worked on your horse. Now, if the heel has been trimmed too short, it is possible the bulbs are going to become bruised if their condition is not taken into account when the horse is being shod.

It comes back to having the hooves balanced. If the hoof has been trimmed so out of balance that correcting the problem through further trimming is not possible, then it is up to the farrier to correctly balance the horse using other methods. Flat pads can be used to provide additional protection for the heels and soles of the hoof, while wedge pads may be necessary to elevate the heels in order to raise them to their proper position. Having a record of your horse’s lengths and angles to refer to will make this much simpler.

If the heels were trimmed too short, there is a good chance that the horse will feel the effects in the tendons of that leg as they will become sore from being overstressed due to the improper hoof angle.

Usually, if a horse has been trimmed a little too short, the effects tend to disappear within a few days as soon as the hoof and sole have grown out enough provide the necessary protection. However, that assumes the trim was only a little too short and not too short and out of balance both.

The horse is not going to be able to recover until the feet once again are in balance. If your horse is experiencing soreness in the heels and/or bulbs, and not improving, then you might want to contact your vet and see if he or she can recommend a farrier they are comfortable working with and who they believe has the experience to correct your horse’s problems.

I hope I’ve been able to offer some assistance in your quest to resolve your horse’s lameness problems. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do.

Buz

Q: I have had horses for 20 years but have just backed a young one, but I am unable to lift her back feet.  She is very good with her fronts.  When I do manage to lift one from the floor she instantly leans so far she would fall if I did not let the foot go.  I have been trying everything for the last 8 weeks but am not moving any further forward.  The blacksmith came did her fronts but he was unable to lift her back legs and said she had stringhalt.  I have read all what I can on this but she does not seem to have any of the ailments.  Can you suggest anything?

A: A horse with Stringhalt usually will show pretty specific symptoms, which although they may be erratic in appearance, are fairly easy to recognize. From your statement, I assume that you have been able to find reading material that covers the basics of this problem.

I found these Web pages to have some interesting material relating to stringhalt. One specifically mentions that stringhalt does not affect the horse’s ability to stand.

http://www.equusite.com/articles/health/healthStringhalt.shtml
http://ponyclubvic.org/about/halt.html

http://www.equisearch.com/care/lameness/dtstringhalt3803/

http://www.horseshoes.com/farrierssites/sites/rooney/stringhalt/stringhalt.htm

If, after your research and your farrier’s diagnosis you were to seriously suspect your horse of being affected by stringhalt, the first thing would be to have it examined by a knowledgeable veterinarian.

On the other hand, if your horse shows no symptoms (sometimes, backing a horse tends to showcase the symptoms best) of this or any other problems relating to how its hindquarters are able to perform, then I would start from scratch to try to determine why this horse will not allow you to pick up its hind feet.

First I would ask if the problem is with both hinds or only one side or the other. If she will not lift either hind foot and there is no medical reason for this, then as simple as it sounds, she may just have never been trained to lift her hinds. Some folks have a real aversion to handling the hind feet and consequently you can end up with a horse that has no idea what you are trying to do.

Another possibility is that she may have had a bad experience with someone who mistreated her or was rough with her when trying to get her to lift her hind feet, or even something like her falling down during a session and now she is scared to death when you ask her for her foot.

If you’ve been around horses for twenty years, you know that it only takes a fraction of a second by someone losing their temper to ruin a horse or at least seriously set back a training program. And then, the new owner inherits the problem. One thing to consider when purchasing any horse no matter how young or old, is to insist seeing someone pick up all four feet just so you know it can be done.

Training a horse to lift its feet for a farrier is something so basic and so readily accepted by most horses, that when one will not accept the training, then I look for one of two reasons. It has been my experience that barring an injury or medical condition, poor hoof handling characteristics are most often the result of unsatisfactory human performance which can range from ignorance to abuse through the lack of patience.

Laying down on you is one way a horse will passively try to avoid doing what you ask, which while preferable to a swift kick in the shins, still leaves you with having to find a way around the problem.

One horse I trimmed was very reluctant to lift its hinds and the owner was equally reluctant to work with the horse’s hind feet. What worked in this situation was to trim the horse’s hind feet when the horse was on a mild downhill slope. I put the horse’s head downhill and aside from the slight discomfort of having to work on a less than flat surface, the horse didn’t seem to mind and lifted its hind feet without objection. I do not advocate this method as a replacement to sound training, but simply as an example of what one farrier did to work within a horse’s capabilities in order to get the job done.

If your horse shows any signs of being afraid when you try to lift her hind feet, I would think that a “bad experience” may be the reason for her reluctance. This type of problem really takes a great deal of time and re-training to overcome. If you think she is just being stubborn, then you will have to be more creative in trying to convince her that this is something she needs to do. Either way, patience is the key.

Something you may wish to consider is for you to ask her to lift her foot rather than you reaching down and trying to lift the foot for her. If she lifts a foot for you, then she cannot be leaning on you at the same time because her weight will shift to the other side as she raises that foot. Basically, she cannot be lifting up and pushing down at the same time. Additionally, try to keep some separation between you and her body (if only a fraction of an inch) so that she cannot feel like she has something to lean on for support.

Any able-bodied horse should be taught to lift its feet and hold them up rather than make a person lift up a foot and then become a leaning post for the horse. The work is hard enough without having to hold up an extra thousand pounds at the same time.

If you find yourself at the end of your rope, you might want to see if you can locate a farrier or trainer that enjoys working with horses that have problems of this nature. Most states have a state farrier association and they may be able to put you in touch with someone who would be willing to work with you in overcoming this problem.

Best wishes to you and your horse. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q: Quittor leg joints tendons ligament damage.

A: I’m going to assume the main focus of the question is about “quittor” and its relationship to the other parts of the leg/hoof structure.

Quittor (necrosis of the lateral cartilage(s) is described as an infection of the lateral cartilage(s). The condition may be the result of a puncture wound that has become infected, chronic abscesses of the sole or persistent interfering. Quittor is characterized by necrosis of the affected cartilage and sinus drainage through the coronary band.

Here is an excellent article on the subject. Also, the site itself is worth noting for the variety of information available on related equine subjects.

http://www.liphookequinehosp.co.uk/llquittor.htm

This is a very serious condition that usually requires close coordination between farrier and veterinarian.

Please feel free to contact me if you have additional questions concerning this matter.

Buz

Q: My horse has always worn shoes on his front feet but because his front hooves were badly cracked, my blacksmith trimmed his feet back too far to reset his shoes.  Since then he has been very lame.  His heels are badly bruised and one of his front feet is growing out much flatter than the other.  I also noticed a small horizontal crack towards the back of one of his hooves that appears to have bled.  It has a dark red tint.  I have him on supplements to speed the growth of his hooves but he has been lame now for about three weeks and it seems to be getting worse instead of better.  I’m very concerned about this.  is there anything I or my blacksmith can do to aid in his healing or to make him more comfortable in the mean time.

A: Hi,

It would appear you have a number of things happening with your horse’s feet. The issue of correcting the “badly cracked front feet” is one I’m assuming you are addressing so I will move right on to the trimming of the feet.

If a horse is not lame before its feet are trimmed, then it shouldn’t be lame after a trim, and if it is, then most likely the culprit is in the trim itself.

Too short is not good on a number of levels. The first being that a horse trimmed too short is going to be lame and that is not acceptable under any circumstances. In your case you have a lame horse plus, you are unable to reset the shoes which is what it sounds like was your first choice, although maybe the feet were cracked so badly as to make that impossible.

Additionally, your lame horse has not recovered from its trim which would lead one to assume there is something more going on here than just being trimmed too short. In most cases, a horse will recover from being trimmed a little too short in a matter of days.

In your case, the horse came up lame immediately after the trim, it’s been three weeks and its condition is worsening and the overall condition of the hooves has been affected.

The bruised heels and one foot growing out “much flatter” than the other leads me to wonder if your horse’s feet are seriously out of balance.

I would think your first consideration is to relieve the horse’s pain caused by the lameness. If this were my horse, I would determine the proper hoof lengths and hoof angles necessary to bring his feet back into a balanced state and then use whatever is necessary to bring its feet back to where they belong. Your farrier may use another method other than lengths and angles, but the important thing here is to get the horse back standing on its feet in the proper manner.

Your situation may require pads for protection, wedge pads for compensating for the loss of heel, a slip-on boot to provide protection for the sole, heels and bulbs or any combination that will get your horse back on its feet.

Most of all, it would appear that you need to determine what went wrong and correct the situation. Three weeks is way too long for a horse to be lame as the result of a short trim. Anytime is too long, but three weeks and the effects you are seeing would lead me to think that your horse is suffering from more than being trimmed just a little too short. If there were no other factors involved, then all signs point to the need to get the horse back to a balanced state.

I think you have good reason to be concerned. My suggestion would be to locate a farrier with experience in the treatment of lame horses because what you are seeing in just three weeks is only an indicator of worse things to come if the situation is not corrected.

The horizontal crack may or may not be part of the ongoing scenario. Most likely it is the result of an event that has passed and unless it begins to bleed or change dramatically, will grow out without causing any problems. However, it is good you noticed it and as with anything out of the ordinary on a hoof, is worth keeping an eye on.

I have posted a set of line drawings that show what the average horse’s feet should look like after being trimmed. Please click here to view that webpage.

Please feel free to contact me if there is anything else I can do to help you with your situation.

Best of luck to you and your horse.

Buz

 

Q: I have a horse who is 9 who has never had shoes until now. He was run in a barrel race after being off for 3 years, moved from pasture to rocky ground and now has shoes on for the first time.  He came up bruised in the front feet and was checked by a vet and x-rays showed nothing.  He seems better after the shoes, but is still lame on the front right.  If this is muscle strain and bruised feet will this heal in time if we stay off of him?  I am really worried and hope my horse will not be permanently lame.

A: Hello,

If the problem is a simple muscle strain and/or bruised feet, then resting the horse and following the advice of your vet should allow him to heal with no long term adverse effects.

Of course, this all depends on the severity of the injury and that can only be determined by an onsite visit from your vet and/or farrier, which you have done and for that, your horse will thank you.

Horses get bruised feet and they pull muscles quite often and most recover from these injuries if they are allowed to heal.

The key is to be certain you know what injury you are working with and making sure the horse is allowed to fully recover before returning to a full working schedule.

Your vet and farrier should explain the type and degree of seriousness of the injury you are dealing with and give you a prognosis for your horse’s recovery. They can also help you develop a plan to get your horse back into top working condition.

It is hard to predict exactly how long a bruised sole or pulled muscle will take to heal. Every horse is different and the rate of recovery varies from horse to horse and depends greatly upon the individual injury.

The only thing I might suggest is that you closely monitor your horse’s condition and if his condition worsens instead of getting better, ask your vet and/or farrier to come back and re-evaluate the situation. These types of injury should get better with rest and if they don’t, then you need to find out why and adjust your treatment accordingly.

Hopefully, his injuries are not that severe and with your care and attention, he will be back to normal in good time.

Please feel free to contact me again if I can help you with anything else.

Q: What is thrush?

A: Thrush is a very common disease of the foot. The bacteria that causes thrush lives in an anaerobic (no air) environment. Spherophorus necrophorus or Fusobacterium necrophorum.

It is present in most dirt and manure. It becomes a problem when it is allowed to pack into the foot and remain there long enough for the bacteria to begin to attack the hoof.

While is usually associated with unkempt barns or unclean living conditions, thrush can appear just about anywhere. All it takes is for a piece of bedding, wood chip, shaving, rock or stick to become lodged in the hoof with the bacteria laden material underneath and if the conditions are right, thrush may become a problem.

The easiest way to prevent thrush is to clean your horse’s feet with a hoof pick on a regular basis. Not only will this help prevent the problem, it will alert you to its presence before it becomes something more than just a minor inconvenience.

Here are a couple of articles that discuss thrush, its prevention and cure.

http://petcaretips.net/thrush_horse.html

http://www.equisearch.com/care/treatment/eqthrush305/

http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/best/article.php?aid=47567

These websites are also worth noting for the wealth of information they provide on most things concerning horses.

Thank you for you question.

Q: My new horse has thrush so badly it looks like her feet are rotting from the inside out! She has been pastured for months and had only a filthy run-in to get out of the rain. Is there anything I can do for her besides daily treatment with a bleach/vinegar mixture? Can I ask my farrier to do anything special for her when he comes to do her feet?

A: Hi. Thrush can be a real problem for a horse and yours must surely be happy to have been rescued from the environment you described.

Here are a few links to some interesting articles on thrush that will most likely only serve to reinforce your personal knowledge base while offering a few suggestions you might find helpful.

http://petcaretips.net/thrush_horse.html

http://www.equisearch.com/care/treatment/eqthrush305/

http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/best/article.php?aid=47567

Things you might ask your farrier would be for his or her suggestions regarding their own experiences in treating thrush. One thing I would advise would be to delay, until you have cleared up the problem, before applying full pads to the horse’s feet, if that were part of you hoof care program. Thrush needs the exposure to the air to assist in its removal.

One thing your farrier can help you with is the removal of any loose/decaying frog in order to prevent these things from providing a place for the thrush to thrive. This works right alongside your own program of keeping the hoof clean and free of any debris that will hinder your attempt to remove all of the bacteria from the hoof. A healthy frog, trimmed only to remove loose, diseased or semi-attached material that is in the process of being shed, is all the frog trimming the average horse will need. Excessive trimming of the frog for appearance’s sake is not necessary and may prove detrimental to the horse’s health.

The article at this location, http://www.equisearch.com/care/treatment/eqthrush305/, offers one way to make sure that whatever your personal choice of thrush-buster is, it will get into those areas that need to be treated.

Good luck with this and please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Thank you.

Q: What type of shoeing is best for a horse with a right rear suspensory injury?

A: The type, location and specific parts of the anatomy involved in the injury will each have a definite impact in the formulation of a plan, including horseshoes, necessary for the recovery of your horse.

Shoes that may be applicable for this type of injury include extended egg bar shoes, Patten bar shoes, swelled heel shoes, wedge pads and/or bar wedge pads in conjunction with a horseshoe. Additionally, a surgical leg brace that would be designed dependant upon the extent and location of the injury may be used in treating certain injuries.

It is important to consult with your veterinarian and farrier in order to determine exactly what the best course of action will be regarding any suspected suspensory injury.

Here is an article on Suspensory Desmitis. Paragraph #4 deals with types of shoes specific to the hind feet.

http://www.horseshoes.com/anatomy/esad/articles/tendoninjuries3/tendoninjuries3.htm

A search on Google using the terms suspensory injuries displays a number of sites and articles relating to suspensory injuries.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=suspensory+injuries

http://www.theequinejournal.com/Resources/issue37/suspensoryart.html

I wish you the best of luck in the speedy recovery of your horse. Please let me know if I can be of further service.

Q: I went out to the pasture this morning and discovered my horse was lame. The farrier was here yesterday. He trimmed and put shoes on my horse. Is it possible this is the problem? What should I do?

A: While it is possible that your horse’s lameness problem is related to his just having been trimmed and shod, I would treat this as you would any other case of your horse suddenly coming up lame.

Try to determine exactly where the problem is located. If there is no obvious sign of an injury anywhere on the horse, I would begin a closer inspection of each leg and hoof. If, and only if you are comfortable with handling your horse’s legs and feet, pick each one up checking for bumps or swelling of the leg, punctures to the sole and/or frog as well as for any foreign objects such as a nail that the horse may have stepped on.

A word of caution is in order here. I always look first before using a hoof pick to clean out a hoof. Often a nail or splinter is driven deep into the frog or sole itself and then covered with mud, manure or bedding and is not easily detected. If you just start digging in with the pick, you may disturb the nail causing the horse to react violently to the sudden pain. Approach each hoof as if you know something is stuck in there and go slow.

If you find an injury requiring the services of your vet, then schedule an appointment as soon as possible. If you do not find anything out of the ordinary and/or the lameness appears to originate in the hoof or hooves, then by all means call the farrier. Explain what you see as well as what you have done in trying to determine the cause. More than likely your farrier will be as anxious as you are to find the problem and fix it immediately. If he isn’t … find another farrier.

If your horse was not lame before the farrier arrived, he certainly should not be lame after being trimmed and/or shod. Under no circumstances should trimming a horse to the point of lameness be considered quality hoof care.

Regular trimming of a horse’s feet are a normal part of a lifelong hoof care program. This can and should be done without causing the horse any pain.

Q: The other morning when I went to take my pony out of her stall, I noticed she had extreme weakness in her front legs and was very reluctant to move.  The day before she was out in the pasture with the other horses but off in the back, without them, which is really not like her.  Her feed has not changed and there are no signs of wounds, swelling or any of the like.  If I pick up her front foot, either one, her legs shake and she falls down.  Please give me some ideas on what could be the sudden cause of this severe weakness, lameness.  

A: While it is always difficult to prescribe a course of action without actually being able to be 'hands on' with the horse, in your case, with what you are describing happening to your horse, I would suggest scheduling an appointment with a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Anytime a horse is unable to stand and is exhibiting behavior as you describe, then my first recommendation would be to consult with your vet and farrier.

If all of the horses are eating and drinking from the same sources and if the pony is the only one exhibiting symptoms, hopefully a further examination of the pony will reveal a cause.

You mention that when you pick up either of her front feet, she falls down. Is there a similar reaction when you pick up her hind feet?

Is she standing with her feet under her as she would normally?

While waiting for your vet to arrive, I would suggest checking the soles of her feet for puncture wounds, abscesses or any other severe trauma (a nail or sliver of wood or wire) to the bottom of her feet. Any of these can cause unbearable pain to the horse.

The same for her legs (any porcupines about?) but only if you are comfortable handling her in this way.

It is possible that in her current state that she will not react as she normally would. Be careful!

I would check for evidence that she may have been kicked or possibly collided with an object in the pasture or stall.

You say “the other morning …” and “the day before she was out …” so I’m assuming that this situation has been ongoing for a few days. Is the pony getting better … worse or has she stabilized in her current state?

How is she eating and drinking? Is her digestive track functioning normally along with her kidneys?

How about her teeth and gums? Is there an odd odor to her breath? Are her eyes clear and normal?

The symptoms you describe are so disturbing that I believe your situation warrants a visit from a veterinarian.

I’m sorry that I am unable to be more specific, but as I said earlier, without being there and actually seeing the horse and being able to discuss the situation with you onsite, I would recommend a visit from the vet.

Please feel free to contact me at bensmithin@montana.com  if you would like to discuss this further. Also, I will be very interested in knowing what you find out as to the cause of your pony’s lameness.

 Best of luck to you and your pony.

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