|Equine Health Management - Foot and Shoeing
Questions (For answers, scroll down or click on
We have two horses with the same problem. One is 10 and the other is 17. They were a little lame. We have had 2 blacksmiths out and they cleaned out the front right hoof on one and the front left hoof on the other to get the dirt and mud out. After this, they limp really bad. Once the mud and dirt is packed good in there again, they are fine. Do you know what could be wrong?
As you know, growing Clydesdale feet must be shaped for the show ring using various types of training and show shoes with pads. Can you please provide some tips on how our farrier can train these feet to grow the way they are supposed to and shape the flaring properly?
I have a 19 year old dressage schoolmaster ... the farrier said he was flat-footed and thin-soled and he put aluminum wedge shoes and pads on him. Horse went great but stumbled occasionally. Farrier recently took off the pads (why?), horse was sore, put the pads back on but he is not perfect yet. ...Now, the farrier is talking bar shoes. Should I hurry up and get these wedge shoes off? I'm afraid it is changing the angle incorrectly, something just doesn't look right to me.
My 12 year old TB dressage horse is lame in the trot, both front feet. It has been three weeks since my farrier put aluminum egg bars on front and he is still off at the trot. I was told by my vet, after clean x-rays, that his heels are very sore and not much heel to work with. Will I have to wait it out or is there anything else I can do in the meantime?
I have a two year old arab gelding who will not let the blacksmith trim him. We can pick up his feet and clean them out but it takes a lot of effort and time. Would using drugs to calm him down work or do you have any other suggestions?
In a previous answer, you stated there was a "normal notch" in P3. I have read where that is NOT normal, that it is due to the circumflex artery being pinched off by too high of heels or shoeing. Please explain why some coffin bones would have the notch and others do not have the notch.
I have an 11 year old Quarter Horse with small feet. He has very sore heels. He has a special prescription for his shoes, but still has sore feet. He is on Bute and trainer suggested I have him nerved. He does Dressage and Western Pleasure. Do you think I should have him nerved?
My racehorse pacer was diagnosed with a bruised pedal bone by an x-ray. I was told to put a wide eggbar shoe on her, give her two weeks of just jogging, then start fast work again. I did this, but she is still slightly lame after a fast workout. What else can you recommend?
I have a 12 year old TWH with a club foot on the right front. He stumbles and falls. The vet said the legs were OK to roll toe shoe. That has not worked nor has a pad. The farrier said with more expensive shoeing, maybe, but I don't have the money for that. Do you have any suggestions?
I just bought a 9 year old TB that has been racing for 7 years. He has, over those years, developed a large amount of calcification around his front left ankle joint. It doesn't seem to bother him, but is there anything I can do with my vet to make sure that it really isn't a medical problem that is going to develop into lameness, or is there a way to reduce the calcification?
I own a 3 year old paint gelding. He's been having foot problems and they are progressively getting worse. When he walks, he steps on the outside of his foot first, instead of his whole foot. This is caused from the inside half of his foot growing faster. My farrier comes out every 6 weeks and trims him. He has suggested corrective shoeing in the spring. I've been told that this problem may be due to his body growing at different rates, which is normal of course. He has only been lame once in the year that I have owned him, however, he has problems picking up the correct lead on his problem foot. I'm planning to get a radiogram done on his leg to see if the bone in his leg is twisted or if it is just his hoof. He has good conformation and no other soundness problems. His dam had problems with abnormal hoof growth, so there's a chance it was inherited. Do you have any information about correcting this problem?
What is sidebone formation and how is it caused? Is there nutritional, corrective shoeing or therapeutic manipulation that will keep a horse comfortable and sound with this problem? Does this lead to other navicular type changes?
We just bought a 5 year old gelding. We had the farrier shoe him, (he hasn't been in shoes for awhile). He told us Bubba has soft hooves. We wanted him to wear boots on his front feet as long as we can keep them trimmed and cleaned. But the farrier says we can't because of the hooves being soft. Can this be true? If so, can we do something to make them hard? We never take him on the road, he is a trail horse.
My stallion suffered an abscessed right front foot while leased 1000 miles away. By the time the lessee "noticed", he had a fencing staple under his frog for 5 days and the leg was swollen through the shoulder... a street nail procedure was done to clean out the navicular bursa. A year later ... The injured foot is contracted marked ONLY on the medial side, and he rarely uses that leg, resulting in chronic stocking up of the left.... I have been advised that I will probably get expansion shoeing with a heart bar built out to the original size. I am trying to find out if the new high-tech cushioning with inserts for increased friction on the good side and increased slippage on the contracted side will increase the speed and direction of balance correction. Do you know anyone with experience with this problem?
I plan on buying two Tennessee Walking horses within the next 6 months. I will use them for trail riding and pleasure. I'm in the process of looking for a farrier. Are there any unique qualities/knowledge that I need to look for in selecting a farrier for a walking/gaited horse? Do walking/gaited horses require special shoeing?
have a six year old mare. The frog on her right rear hoof seems to be
getting smaller. Also, at the point of the frog, there is about a
quarter size hole. There is not any sign of infection. Her
mobility does not appear to be a problem. Her right front frog seems
to be a little small too. Any suggestions as to the problem or remedy?
Questions and Answers
A: It seems very curious that the frog on both feet on the off side would be affected. I haven't a clue as to why. I would guess it is conformational, but, would have to poke about the area to really get a grip on what is happening. The point of the frog (aka APEX) having a hole doesn't alarm me because what you might be calling a "hole" might actually be loose frog in the shedding process. I have seen times when the frog looks like swiss cheese as it sheds and detaches itself. No sign of infection is good. If this were abscess-related or Thrushy you'd see both decay, seepage, and smell a foul odor. All I could recommend here is to get your Farrier or Vet in on the situation and get a skilled hand to diagnose what you're looking at.
A: Okay, now, the LAST thing you want to be doing here is *aggressive trimming*. I may be misunderstanding what you mean by the phrase, but, I don't get good mental pics. I am not going to get into what causes "Club Feet" here because I cover that on my Web site in detail. You can get to my Web site via the link listed on Equerry.com. Now, two very influential factors in clubby feet are (a) tendon/ligament deformity, and/or, (b) musculoskeletal under-development. The latter has been studied very heavily and is relative to the foal not getting the proper amount of exercise within the first hour of birth. Yes, I am serious ... the first HOUR of birth and I have research to back that statement. It has been determined that the first hour of birth can determine much in the way of leg and hoof development. But, again, that is another *book* and not fit for getting into here. I recommend that you (a) get detailed and revealing radiographs with interpretation by a trained eye to see what is going on inside the hoof and leg that could be causing this, (b) NOT allow aggressive removal of the heels in an attempt to drop the angle thinking you can promote *normal* growth patterns, (c) NOT disturb the alignment of P3 by stressing the hoof capsule with whacky trimming and shoeing tactics, and, (d) NOT think you can solve the clubby problem by stretching the tendon. Read my lips .... TENDONS DON'T STRETCH. If you want some detailed input on "Club Foot" and the degrees, treatments, etc., go to my Web site.
Q: My farrier suggested adding a hoof supplement to my two year old horse's diet to improve the condition of his three white hooves, which are cracked and flaky. Most products contain biotin (in varying levels), methionine, and lysine. How do I find the most economic, effective product? Is more frequent use of a topical hoof dressing a better solution?
A: First .. don't make the mistake of many and determine your approach by your wallet. Second ... I get the impression from your emphasis upon "three white hooves" that you might think white hooves are inferior to darker hooves. If so, lemme set you straight right now. It has been proven by biological research that color (i.e. pigment) makes no difference in the strength and functionality of an otherwise healthy hoof. I have the research to back me. As for the supplement, your Farrier is right and I always recommend Farrier's Formula because it works. It is a tad pricey, but, you get what you pay for just like in anything else in life. It takes several months for supplements to kick in, so, be patient. As for the topical goops .. send me your money for all the good buying that junk will do your horse's feet. If you want the results of a Texas A&M "Hoof Project" study on topicals, go to my Web site. Bottom line ... the only thing that will happen if you apply topical goop is you'll irritate the Farrier that has to clean it off.
A: Maybe never. Proper trimming and hoof management according to growth patterns is all the typical pleasure horse needs. That foal needs to be *imprinted* the minute s/he hits the ground. I strongly suggest that you be there if possible (usually, mares wait till we fall asleep to drop .. smile) when the baby is born and handle the youngster as momma allows, then, walk momma forcing the baby up and active. In the wild, mares lead their young off away from the birthing area within minutes after dropping and they walk for an hour or more before stopping. Now, it is important that you have a Farrier *before* you need one. The baby will need first trimming within a couple of weeks after birth and then every few weeks thereafter. Momma and baby can be done together even after weaning. It is important that you handle the foal's feet regularly (preferably daily) to teach them it is okay and to prevent them from growing up to be 1,200 pound Farrier stompers.
Q: I live in an area that has very little dressage. The farriers here want to shoe my horse like a reining horse or a saddle bred. I want my horse to be shod in such a way that benefits her while keeping in mind that her primary use is dressage. What basic things can I tell a farrier? She is a light boned TBx and about 15.3 Hands.
A: Start by saying to the Farriers ..NO. (smile) Your Dressage horse doesn't need anything special in the way of shoeing other than balanced feet and protection. I like using St Croix shoes on my Dressage horses. They come in steel and aluminum flavors - patterned and unpatterned - clipped and unclipped. Now, I am not going to instruct you to *tell* your Farrier anything because the quickest way to get on my bad side is to *tell* me how to do my job. But, I would recommend using St Croix shoes, thin blade nails, easy clinching so as not to rip out the wall if a shoe is cast or stepped off, and nail hole disinfectant.
Q: Could you please explain how to identify Greasy Hoof? I have a 12 year old Arab mare who is sore in the rear near side hoof. She shows a little lameness on the trot and has a small scaly track going up her leg from the hoof. This seems to be tracking upwards. Her underside of her hoof is going scaly around her frog. I am currently resting her. If this is greasy hoof, how do I treat it?
A: Sounds like it could be "Greasy Heel" (aka "Scratches"). You need to clip the hair in the affected areas and clean well with an antimicrobial scrub or a solution of warm water, vinegar, and iodine twice a day. Then, dry the area with clean towels. After cleansing and drying: pour on or brush in a solution of olive oil and iodine. Olive oil is a great healer and also keeps water away from the areas that have been infected with the fungus. Athlete's foot spray also works because fungus is fungus.
Q: My Quarter Horse has had a front hoof crack to the coronary band for several years. I have tried several farriers, but their methods have not been successful. One person was able to close the crack some what. This person recommended using Peruvial Balsam to help the crack under the coronary band. Do you know any information about this product and where it can be obtained?
A: No, I don't know about the product named. It doesn't surprise me that the crack has run to the Coronary band and persists with growth because the horn is made up of "tubules" that easily split and separate. As new growth comes out of the band area it will follow the path of the existing tubules and split as well. If the crack has not penetrated the band, your Farrier needs to shoe the horse with quarter clips, patch the crack with something like "Equi Thane" closing the crack from ground up after a thorough preparation, and the horse must be on a rigid reset schedule and controlled lite duty as the crack grows down for about 8 months - or, however long it takes in your horse's case for the top of the crack to grow down to ground level.
Q: I have a 12 year old mare that began refusing to give her back feet to be picked up at all. It started when we tried to shoe her in October and has progressed to this. She kicks at you when you try to pick up the back feet, but is fine with giving you the front. I thought it was a fear and have been trying to work through it, but she is just getting meaner and meaner. Any suggestions?
A: There is a reason she started this in the first place. Could have been an injury, joint pain, muscle fatigue, whatever. But, something made her stop giving at the hind because horses don't just one day decide to become mean or uncooperative. If the initial problem still persists, there isn't any reason for the horse to change its resistance because something is bothersome about lifting the hind. If the horse is in pain, the more you insist on having that foot, the more the horse is going to insist on keeping it. I suggest you not battle with an animal that outweighs you by 1,000 pounds or better. What you need to do is what should have been done at the first sign of unusual behavior. Get your Vet involved and perhaps an equine Therapist to try and determine if a problem exists and, if so, treat it. If no problem can be identified after a thorough physical examination and radiographs, you might have to start some re-training to overcome what has developed into a conditioned response.
Q: My horse was just diagnosed with white line disease. He's a 21 year old gelding Quarter Horse. Apparently there is an abcess in his foot. I've been soaking it in warm, salted water with benadine to try and draw the poison out. I can't seem to find any information on this problem. What causes it, can I avoid him getting it again, will this affect his feet permanently?
A: I won't go into detail about the abscess in this answer because I thoroughly cover this topic on my Web site. Your Vet needs to cut out the abscessed tissues and remove all of the infection. You can then make a "sugardine" paste from equal parts table sugar and Betadine and pack the area, or, do whatever your Vet prescribes. Stop soaking the foot because this causes other problems I won't get into here. Yes, you can prevent this from recurring and it won't ordinarily affect his feet permanently.
Q: My two year old has a clubbed foot. It is not severe as there is no dishing, but it is definitely more upright and smaller than the other. I was told to have Check ligament surgery performed on him. What do you know about this operation and the long term advantages/disadvantages?
A: Goodness, people have written libraries in answering your questions. In a nutshell, don't get hung up on the presence of dishing as an indication of severity because it is not an accurate marker. As for the surgery, desotonomy of the inferior check ligament when done before 2 years old can help the situation. After 2 years old is anybody's guess. I cover "Club Foot" in detail on my Web site as well as the several stages that exist in the problem and how to identify each stage.
Q: I just had one of my horses shod at the trainer and he was laid up for several days because the farrier took off a lot of toe to supposedly flatten his gait. Then, I had a vet come to do a flex test on a filly that I'm selling and the vet didn't like the way her feet were trimmed too small. The foot isn't trimmed far enough back to give her enough support. She showed some sore tendons which we didn't even know. Does this mean she's not sound or can trimming correct this problem? I previously lost another farrier because he trimmed my horses too short all the time. Can you recommend how you know you are getting a good farrier that knows what he is doing?
A: Hooves should never be trimmed to alter gait. They should *always* be trimmed for proper angle and balance. I go into trimming and these aspects in depth on my Web site. I can't answer your question about the soundness. Your Vet is in a better position to answer that question at the examination. Yes, proper trimming can help alleviate sore tendons because improper balance and alignment of the feet affects everything from the ground up through the back and spinal cord. The only way you are going to know whether or not a Farrier knows what s/he is doing is to educate yourself to identify the differences between good and bad trimming and shoeing. This isn't a task that takes years and years to develop. It can be done quite easily in a short period of time with diligent study and practical exposure. My young daughter can pick off a bad trimming or shoeing job while it is happening because she has been exposed to both and knows the differences. I strongly recommend that you subscribe to my newsletter on my Web site because it is one very effective and direct method by which you can teach yourself these things.
Q: I have a 2 year old Percheron that is on a 6 week trim schedule. He is developing a crack on his front foot. It starts very small and then gets large and wide. I do not want to shoe him. What kind of supplements can I try first?
A: Am I reading this correctly .. you are saying this crack starts *narrow* and spreads wide? I am suspicious of a crack that does this as you describe because it is not the normal behavior of tubules that separate. They usually start wide and narrow out as it goes higher. Perhaps you are mistaken in your description. If not, you are describing something I have yet to see. In any event, the supplement is not going to solve your cracking that exists now. But, you do need to feed something good like Farrier's Formula and keep the horse on it. As for the crack, you are going to have to shoe the horse to solve the problem. Big drafts like yours are heavy and hard on hooves. Your 2 year old probably weighs in the neighborhood of 1,400 pounds with (according to Texas A&M) 56% of it resting on the front feet. Your Farrier needs to repair the crack with a product like Equithane and shoe the horse with quarter clips and stay on top of the resets till the crack grows down.
A: I would say get another Vet because they are the ones trained for this type of thing. I can only guess as a Farrier. You don't indicate whether your horse is shod or not, or, whether you recently pulled shoes. Sometimes these things happen when you transition a horse from shod to bare. It might have something to do with concussion trauma from hard surfaces. Your best bet is to get an equine Vet in on it for a second opinion.
Q: Are horses sometimes born with fully developed 'lesser' toes besides the main hoof? In Colleen McCullough's book on Julius Caesar, she mentions that Caesar owned a couple of horses that had toes. How common is this? Where can I find a photograph of this unusual phenomenon?
A: Yes, using an EDSS fracture plate with the EDSS or a modified Natural Balance shoe. If you or your Farrier want information on the EDSS, you can contact its founder who is a very nice guy and a great Farrier by the name of Gene Ovnicek in Montana. His phone number is 406-892-2977 and you can tell him that I sent you. He trained me in the EDSS and its many faceted applications.
A: This is usually a horseshoe that is housed within a special polyetheleyne of other synthetic substance and that does not require nails to remain secured to the hoof. There are several brands and makers on the market and a person can get quite confused. I even get lost in the hype at times. The type with tabs is applied to the hoof after prep work is completed and uses special adhesive material to secure it to the hoof along the outer wall by sticking the tabs to the horn. The other method is what I refer to as the "Champagne" method because it is heavily used and made widely popular by track Farrier "Wes Champagne". It takes a Thoroughbred race plate aluminum shoe and uses a special adhesive kit to glue the shoe to the bottom of the hoof. This will work with most aluminum shoes, but, never works with steel. I have never used this latter method, but, Wes says it stays on as long, and sometimes longer, than nails. If you want pictures of several glue on shoes go to my Web site at http://www.askthefarrier.com.
Q: I have a late-teen foxtrotter gelding that I ride on trails for 6 days a week, about an hour each day (walk, trot for 30 min., some cantering, and cool down). I found out after purchase, that he had foundered at some time in his life, but not badly. Recently he has been limping on his L-F foot. X-rays revealed no major problems. The vet said he has a bruised coffin joint and that I cannot ride him on the gravel/sand trails for 6 days a week anymore. Is this true? This problem showed up 5 days after a shoeing, but no hoof tenderness of any kind is evident and I had the shoe pulled to check.
A: If the Vet said a bruised Coffin joint is present, then, you need to either believe the Vet or get another Vet's opinion. If the joint *is* bruised, then, naturally the horse is going to exhibit discomfort whenever the joint is loaded. I don't believe the shoeing had anything to do with a bruised joint. I cannot offer an opinion as to how long it will take for the joint to recover .. if it will recover. Sometimes, joint degeneration makes something like this a permanent situation.
Q: When left in a stall overnight (regardless of the amount of work done during the day), my horse's hind legs swell from below the hock to the pastern. I've been told it is "stocking up", but why would this happen all the time? Is there anything to do to prevent it? I have tried wrapping (which helps a bit) and extra bedding (which doesn't help at all).
A: I am not familiar with the term "stocking up" and I could not locate the term within my online or published equine medical reference sources. The area of the leg you indicate has a myriad of joints and soft tissues any one or all of which can be contributing to this swelling. I am sorry I can't help further, but, I am not a Vet, so, I would strongly advise you to have your Vet exam this condition while it is present.
Q: Any ideas on a super well cared for horse that keeps getting abscesses in one front hoof? This is a TB mare, age 10, receives best of nutrition, vet care, farrier care, turned out daily at least 12 hours, ridden 6 days a week (dressage & light jumping). No other horse in the barn has this problem.
A: I cover abscesses in detail on my website at http://www.askthefarrier.com regarding causes, symptoms, treatments, etc., so, I won't go into too much detail here. If you have been battling this situation for a period of time my first inclination would be to suspect the presence of residual abscessed tissues feeding the infection. If you do not *totally* remove abscessed tissue it will continue to recur. If the area is properly debrided and disinfected, and your aftercare is per the Vet's instructions, you stand a good chance of kicking this thing. If it persists I would suspect something is awry within the stratum of the hoof and you need radiographs and a thorough Vet check. I caution you against having your Farrier dig at the area because (1) that is not the best environment to be opening tissue, and, (2) the digging and probing itself could create complications and secondary abscesses.
Q: My horse is flat footed with navicular changes. Had his shoes pulled for his yearly update on any new changes. Farrier came 10 days late. Meantime the feet chipped. Not much foot to work with, but he was sound without shoes. After shod, he was lame 10 days later. Pulled shoes to see if maybe he had been quicked. What should I do to encourage growth and to make him comfortable?
A: You have several different and complex situations going here that I can't get too deeply into with this type of forum, but, in a nutshell, "Nav changes" is a catch-all term used by many Vets to describe *anything* inexplicable or abnormal within the Nav bursa and surrounding area. I cover Navicular and everything that goes with it on my website at http://www.askthefarrier.com and recommend that you go read up on the information. It is listed under the MEDICAL category. The reasons for *changes* and/or discomfort in this region of the foot are many. A horse with Navicular doesn't necessarily have to be shod as long as the hoof wall and sole is otherwise good and supportive and the turnout is easy on the feet. Since you mention the horse was sound unshod and came up lame after shoeing that tells me you could probably be fine w/o the shoes. Shoeing should not only reduce the tension on the Deep Digital Flexor tendon, but, properly position the Navicular bone so it is not weight bearing. I, personally, prefer using NB and EDSS methods. I go into detail on my website about how I would shoe your horse.
A: I would recommend that you drop the aggravation of trying to make homemade wraps and buy them made for you that you can apply and secure within seconds. I use a plush woolen type of wrap with a nylon outer on my horses for transport that secure with Velcro and are pre-shaped to fit snug. The problems with using cotton or flannel to make a wrap is you can easily get it bunched up and cause swelling, plus, I have yet to see a horse that doesn't move when trying to wrap the legs with this stuff.. My horses, for example, are trained to lift their legs when touched near the ankles, so, although this helps greatly in applying commercial wraps, it would be a nightmare trying to hand-wrap.
A: Your Vet is in a better position to answer this question than me (a Farrier). But, I can tell you from experience it isn't pleasant to you or the horse. P3 rotation can throw everything out of whack and lead to nasty things such as Laminitis and Founder. If you suspect rotation, you need to get radiographs ASAP. If you wait too long it could end up killing your horse if P3 rotates too badly or drops. Every horse owner should get radiographs of the feet annually at the most just to have records. We Farriers can do our jobs better working from radiographs, too. I go into detail on my website at http://www.askthefarrier.com regarding how to mark radiographs while they are being taken for Farrier and Vet use.
Q: I just purchased a well-muscled yearling QH colt that "toes out" mostly on his left front. What is the best way to go about correcting this and what is the worst case scenario and most likely scenario for his soundness?
A: I need to know the age involved to answer better. People refer to horses as *colts* inaccurately in many instances. If the growth plates have closed, WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). If the growth plates haven't closed, but the problem has been allowed to progress, it still may be WYSIWYG. You can't *correct* abnormal growth patterns once they have progressed too far. Usually, the best success is achieved when started at a very young age. The "worse" scenario - excessive winging that interferes with gait and throws the entire movement out of kilter. The "most likely" scenario - everything will be fine. I treat horses right now with this condition that are competitive athletes. The feet get trimmed just like a normal foot. You need to be careful and have a skilled Farrier work with your toe-out horse because this can become a disaster in the wrong hands.
A: My first idea is have your Farrier look at it. It doesn't sound like anything alarming to me. A pliable frog is not a bad thing and a frog that has a soft spot doesn't necessarily mean there's a problem. How does the sulcus look? If the outlying and central sulcus appear normal and free of cheesy tissue and no abnormal odor or drainage is present, then, no biggy. Keep an eye on things to see how it goes, but, I would think it is fine based upon your description.
A: You are very wise to ask about this before investing in a problem child. My quick answer is YES it is wise to consider and NO do not purchase a horse with a behavioral problem unless you are capable of providing proper training. My long answer will be to not just throw in the towel because of what I call the "he said - she said" situation meaning don't rely upon rumor and gossip to make a purchase decision. It might be that the Farrier is the problem - not the horse. You should *always* have a skilled Farrier and Vet give you a pre-purchase exam on any horse you intend to buy. As part of the pre-purchase the Farrier and Vet will handle the feet. If the horse has behavioral problems, it will show. When I do a pre-purchase for a client, one thing I make certain to do is hammer about the hoof to duplicate shoeing. If the horse is going to act up it won't take long. If you purchase a Farrier stomper you are bringing heartache on yourself because you'll be hard-pressed to find a Farrier that'll work on the horse. Most Farriers that work on unruly horses physically abuse the horse adding to the problem.
A: I am at a loss by what you are referring to when you say "restoring circulation to the foot". That implies there isn't adequate circulation now which brings into play other physiological problems that can affect the situation. As for the Navicular itself, I address that and everything that goes with it on my website at http://www.askthefarrier.com and recommend that you go read up on the information. It is listed under the MEDICAL category. A horse with Navicular doesn't necessarily have to be unsound at all. Shoeing needs to not only reduce the tension on the Deep Digital Flexor tendon, but, properly position the Navicular bone so it is not weight bearing. I, personally, prefer using NB and EDSS methods. I go into detail on my website about how I would shoe a Navicular horse and recommend that you share that information with your Farrier.
A: It seems what you are presenting is a horse (unknown age) that went lame from being sound and was diagnosed as having "Navicular changes", but, recovered spontaneously thereafter without any therapeutic shoeing measures involved. Having said that, you are wondering if it could have been Nav-related at all. Am I correct? If so, my answer is "depends" upon many factors and I can't say for certain sitting in my office in Texas. First, you must understand that "Navicular changes" refers to unknown lameness that can't be identified but is somewhat localized by using radiographs, hoof testers, nerve blocks, and general physical examination. It is a typical catch-22 phrase not unlike "Navicular Syndrome" (a sister phrase). Now, I don't know what you were doing when your horse turned up lame and I don't know what makes you mention Nav changes. Nor do I know what you mean by "lame". What you call "lame" I might call normal based upon various types of exertion and activity. I would recommend that you secure a thorough exam physically and radiologically from your Vet if you haven't done so already, plus, have a skilled Farrier conduct a series of tests with hoof testers to try and pin down anything going on in the area of the Nav bone and connecting tissues. If, after these tests and exams, a Vet tells you the horse showed changes but now shows no effects of the changes and soundness continues to date, then, I'd tend to think it was more of a strained tendon that recovered rather than what I would envision in Navicular changes. If you want more detail about Navicular than I can go into in this forum go to my Web site.
Q: My 5 year old Appaloosa gelding has had repeated abscesses since August. First it was a hot nail then a half thrown shoe that caused the clip to go up into his hoof wall. After finally getting him through these he was still extremely lame with any amount of running at leisure. Now our vet has x-rayed his front feet (which was where the problems were) and said he has pedlostitis. He had been in training for hunter/jumper and begun showing last April. Should we completely discontinue this type of training for him? He has since been shod with pads and seems to be back to normal but I do not want to cause him any unnecessary pain or injury.
A: I can't make that call for you because I am not a Vet nor your attending Farrier. However, I can assure you that you need to carefully evaluate this situation if he has Pedal Osteitis because it is an inflammation of the Coffin bone (P3) causing it to lose density and involves lameness at all gaits and can lead to extreme discomfort for the horse - especially if the hooves are overly stressed which is always the case with competitive activity of any type and includes any gait greater than a trot. If I were your Farrier I would be looking at treatment ideas including using wide-web shoes (i.e. St Croix styles) at all times and at least rim pads. Other ideas would involve Natural Balance shoes and even the EDSS in worse cases. It would all depend upon what your horse told me and what I found with hoof testers and what your Vet told me about the radiographs. Bottom line is that you need to make certain your horse has PO by questioning your Vet about why s/he thinks it exists. Radiographs are a good source, but, hoof testers should also be used unless the radiographs clearly show demineralization at one of more points of P3 - which is *not* to be confused with the normal notch in the toe of P3 or with the typical roughness usually present in all horses at the solar aspect of P3 due to vascular patterns in the bone itself.
Q: My 14 year old gelding recently had an x-ray that showed a bone chip in the ankle. No sign it is a new chip, very possible it is an old chip. The vet suggested hydraulic acid injection and then Adequan. Both injections were done and it has been a week. The horse is not willing, but able to trot and canter, but when I ride on him he will be lamed. Does it mean that the injection is not working? What should I do?
A: I am sorry, but, I can't be much help to you about whether the drugs are working or not because I am not a Vet nor am I familiar with those drugs and what they are designed to do in the horse. You need to ask your Vet those questions. If the injections are a method of masking the pain and discomfort your horse experiences so that you can continue to ride and train, you are not doing your horse any good at all and a blowout is on the horizon. Symptoms are a good thing because they tell you about possible problems and you need to treat the *cause* and not the symptoms. If your horse has a chip fracture in the ankle (Fetlock Joint), that is common and I would guess that it is from hyperextension of the joint. This is an injury that brings about concussion lameness and your horse refusing to pick up his gait is a sign that he is hurting due to concussion trauma and you need to listen to your horse and stop pressuring him to stress the fracture. Your horse needs rest at the very least and I am not talking about only on the weekends. I am talking about *rest* for at least 3 months without ANY riding or training beyond a walk. If the chip is small, it will probably heal itself with a few months of rest. However, if the chip(s) is/are large enough they may have to be removed surgically and then about 3 or 4 months of rest is required. You need to work closely with your Vet about this situation and stop masking it with drugs (if that is what y'all are doing). Make sure your Vet radiographs the opposite Fetlock as well because these fractures usually run in pairs.
Q: I plan on buying two Tennessee Walking horses within the next 6 months. I will use them for trail riding and pleasure. I'm in the process of looking for a farrier. Are there any unique qualities/knowledge that I need to look for in selecting a farrier for a walking/gaited horse? Do walking/gaited horses require special shoeing?
A: TW's that are naturally gaited do fine being shod flat and handled as any other horse. Otherwise, you will need a Farrier with specific gaited horse knowledge. It really depends upon your horse and it's abilities. Any Farrier with a grasp of natural balance, trimming according to growth patterns, and shoe forging techniques will be able to handle most situations that could arise with your horse.
Q: My stallion suffered an abscessed right front foot while leased 1000 miles away. By the time the lessee "noticed", he had a fencing staple under his frog for 5 days and the leg was swollen through the shoulder. He was shipped to Auburn U, where a street nail procedure was done to clean out the navicular bursa. A year later, I now have him back here. The injured foot is contracted marked ONLY on the medial side, and he rarely uses that leg, resulting in chronic stocking up of the left. I have sent for radiographs from Auburn for comparison to a new series. I have been advised that I will probably get expansion shoeing with a heart bar built out to the original size. I am trying to find out if the new high-tech cushioning with inserts for increased friction on the good side and increased slippage on the contracted side will increase the speed and direction of balance correction. Do you know anyone with experience with this problem?
A: Well, to answer your question, 'yes', I know many with experience with this problem. But, none of which are in a position to assist you in Maryland.
Lots of Q's running through my mind when reading your information which all have a bearing upon the treatment approach for your horse. I apologize in advance for the shortness of my reply. It is very difficult to properly address this scenario via email without hands-on observance and being able to see the radiographs.
Having said that, I would 'guess' that if the contraction is due to a tightening of the tendons and ligaments, it would be useful to apply an extended toe shoe in a manner to slowly stretch things back out. I don't know what an "expansion shoe" refers to, so I can't address that topic.
As for your question about "high-tech cushioning", I'd have to know more specifically what you are referring to before I can adequately answer. In general, I don't see where increased friction and/or increased slippage on any side is going to help a contracted foot or encourage use. I think the dynamic is wrong. It seems to me that the only way to encourage use of the bad foot is to make the horse feel more secure in its ability to bear weight and function. The horse knows the difference between a "trustworthy" leg just as humans do when we have one weaker leg over another. The horse isn't going to utilize a leg that it feels won't support its weight no matter what you do to encourage it. So, I think the approach should be to focus upon the bad foot while supporting the good one against the stresses of overuse while the good one recovers (if that is possible).
Remember, I'm just guessing here and have no idea what the real facts are as shown by the radiographs or actual examination of the horse. I think you really need to work with your local Vet and Farrier on this. I have seen these types of scenarios reverse themselves and horses totally recover given proper time and treatment.
A: What do you mean by "... foots at the gate?" I'm sorry, but I truly don't know what you are referring to and I can't provide an answer. If you give me some more information, I can try another shot. Perhaps one of the expert trainers knows what you are referring to and can help you.
Q: We just bought a 5 year old gelding. We had the farrier shoe him, (he hasn't been in shoes for awhile). He told us Bubba has soft hooves. We wanted him to wear boots on his front feet as long as we can keep them trimmed and cleaned. But the farrier says we can't because of the hooves being soft. Can this be true? If so, can we do something to make them hard? We never take him on the road, he is a trail horse.
A: I don't see any reason why your horse can't wear boots. Likewise, I have no idea what your Farrier means by "soft hooves" either. Sometimes, I have people refer to white or light hooves as being soft in comparison to dark hooves which is a bunch of hogwash. It has been proven by scientific testing that pigment has absolutely no effect upon hoof strength and tubule integrity. So, if your Farrier is calling your horse's hooves "soft" because they are light-colored, you need to request that your Farrier shed the old rumors and get good information.
I have a client with several show and carriage drafts, one of which has pliable, delicate hooves that have given me grief when trying to hold shoes on. We finally threw in the towel on trying to keep shoes on this big boy and put him in "Horse Sneaker" boots which are worn while pulling the carriages and perform perfectly. The boots also keep his feet looking wonderful and I have taught my clients how to drag a rasp over the feet weekly to keep them in top shape between my appointments.
My advise to you given your scenario here is to tell your Farrier you want the horse trimmed for boots and if s/he doesn't want to help you and support your decision get another Farrier that will. I support my clients in these matters and yours should, too. Matter of fact, your Farrier should even teach you how to care for the feet while wearing the boots. Anything less is unprofessional in my opinion.
Q: What is sidebone formation and how is it caused? Is there nutritional, corrective shoeing or therapeutic manipulation that will keep a horse comfortable and sound with this problem? Does this lead to other navicular type changes?
A: Goodness, you sure open a Pandora's box on this question. The term "sidebones" refers to ossification (there's a $5 word for you to look up .. ha ha) of the collateral cartilages within the front feet and usually hits horses with poor conformation the most. I take it your horse is NOT a Thoroughbred since this is rare with them.
Causes, well, there's concussion (i.e. too much use on hard surfaces), maybe hereditary, base-narrow, base-wide, and even bad shoeing can indirectly cause it because bad shoeing can create concussion effects upon the foot (i.e. heel caulks, borium, trailers, lateral extensions, etc.).
Nutritional therapies are beyond me. I don't see how anything here would help because it isn't a nutritionally-connected problem.
As for corrective shoeing or therapeutic manipulation that will keep a horse comfortable and sound with this problem, most definitely. If the lameness is caused by sidebones, the horse needs to be shod for expansion (i.e. fitted full) and the front toes should be rolled to ease breakover.
As for whether this leads to other Navicular type changes, my best guess as a Farrier is that I would think not because this is usually localized to the medial and lateral apsects of the hoof capsule and not in the Navicular region. However, I am not a Vet, so, my best advice to you here is to ask that question of your Vet.
Q: I own a 3 year old paint gelding. He's been having foot problems and they are progressively getting worse. When he walks, he steps on the outside of his foot first, instead of his whole foot. This is caused from the inside half of his foot growing faster. My farrier comes out every 6 weeks and trims him. He has suggested corrective shoeing in the spring. I've been told that this problem may be due to his body growing at different rates, which is normal of course. He has only been lame once in the year that I have owned him, however, he has problems picking up the correct lead on his problem foot. I'm planning to get a radiogram done on his leg to see if the bone in his leg is twisted or if it is just his hoof. He has good conformation and no other soundness problems. His dam had problems with abnormal hoof growth, so there's a chance it was inherited. Do you have any information about correcting this problem?
A: Your horse's growth plates should be developed by now, so there isn't much of a chance a crooked leg can be straightened. Sounds to me like the classic case of a trim schedule based upon convenience and not growth patterns and needs of the individual horse. Your Farrier needs to set up the trimming schedule based upon your horse's growth patterns and keep the feet balanced in the medial - lateral as well as anterior - posterior aspects. I go into this in great detail on my website at http://www.askthefarrier.com where I even provide charts and pictures. If, after your Farrier starts balancing the feet WITHOUT therapeutic shoeing applications, and the horse is still hitting on the lateral (outside) portion, then it is time to consider therapeutic shoeing with lateral extensions.
Q: I just bought a 9 year old TB that has been racing for 7 years. He has, over those years, developed a large amount of calcification around his front left ankle joint. It doesn't seem to bother him, but is there anything I can do with my vet to make sure that it really isn't a medical problem that is going to develop into lameness, or is there a way to reduce the calcification?
A: If it is muscle calcification you are seeing, that is due to calcium salt deposit in degenerating muscle fibers. If it is boney deposits, there is a chance that it could develop into a problem if it continues to build up and impedes the movement and articulation of the joint. At that time surgical remedy is the only method I know of to reduce the growth. I suggest you take this up with your Vet. They are trained for this scenario.
Q: I have a 12 year old TWH with a club foot on the right front. He stumbles and falls. The vet said the legs were OK to roll toe shoe. That has not worked nor has a pad. The farrier said with more expensive shoeing, maybe, but I don't have the money for that. Do you have any suggestions?
A: If you don't have the financial ability to secure therapeutic shoeing, I don't know what else to tell you in addressing this situation. I don't know what exact type of work is required because I can't see your radiographs or talk with your Vet. But, I can tell you that regular shoeing isn't going to remedy the situation.
I don't know what has been done for your horse, but I would recommend starting with making sure the foot is balanced the way I always discuss. Then, ask the Vet if stretching the tendon is possible to help and, if so, apply an extended toe shoe. Then, if the extended toe shoe works, keep it reset and adjusted until the Vet feels it is time to shoe using flat shoes. If stretching is out of the question, then I need more information before I can recommend what I think should be done because there are many variables involved in club foot. What I suggest that you do is go to my website at http://www.askthefarrier.com and read the detailed information there about club foot and its treatment. Perhaps that will help you better than my reply.
Q: My racehorse pacer was diagnosed with a bruised pedal bone by an x-ray. I was told to put a wide eggbar shoe on her, give her two weeks of just jogging, then start fast work again. I did this, but she is still slightly lame after a fast workout. What else can you recommend?
A: When P3 gets bruised like this, it is important to keep the sole off the ground and ease breakover while recovering. I'd recommend using hoof testers to localize and verify discomfort in the sole callous - P3 region and shoe, making certain not to apply any pressure to the sore area. Sometimes shoeing with woven rim pads riveted to the heels and toe of the shoe to raise the sole and aid in concussion can help, coupled with a reduced activity level, until the soreness passes under testers. If the pain is bad enough, the farrier might need to use impression material to support the foot (but cutting it away from the sore sole area) and a full pad to raise and protect the sole, totally being sure to apply frog support on the ground surface of the pad level with the shoe. I'd go with using an aluminum rocker toe shoe, like a Natural Balance or GE Navicular, along with as small a nail as possible to hold the package securely (such as a #5 slim) and reduce the activity level until the hoof testers demonstrate recovery.
Q: I have an 11 year old Quarter Horse with small feet. He has very sore heels. He has a special prescription for his shoes, but still has sore feet. He is on Bute and trainer suggested I have him nerved. He does Dressage and Western Pleasure. Do you think I should have him nerved?
A: The topic of whether to nerve a horse or not is more than we can cover in this forum. However, if you are interested, I did a detailed article on the topic in a recent newsletter. You can go to my website at askthefarrier.com and subscribe to the newsletter and thereafter go into the archives and read the article. I think it will answer your questions.
As for your present situation,
my gut response is NOT to denerve your horse because that is a drastic
action and I don't see the facts in your history here to support such a
decision. Actually, unless your trainer has consulted with the attending
Vet regarding the denerving and has secured a
An 11 yr old QH is not that old and if he is talented enough to do Dressage and Western he definitely has a wonderful life ahead of him. I would guess from the tone of your message here that your horse is possibly suffering from Navicular Syndrome (which refers to anything involving the Nav region). If that is the case I would suspect that the special prescription for shoeing you mention involves web and DDFT support and eased breakover to remove the pressures off the Nav region. Is that the shoeing prescription? If not, what is it and who prescribed it? Even if your horse has full blown diagnosed Navicular confirmed through physical and radiological exam I wouldn't recommend denerving unless therapeutic shoeing has been tried and fails and it is a last resort. The numbness that results (I speak of this in the article) could be hazardous to your activities and once done it is not something that can be easily reversed.
Get yourself a skilled equine Vet and Farrier team to work with you on this because shoeing methods such as Natural Balance and the EDSS can very well bring your horse sound - or at least save him from the denerving.
Q: In a previous answer, you stated there was a "normal notch" in P3. I have read where that is NOT normal, that it is due to the circumflex artery being pinched off by too high of heels or shoeing. Please explain why some coffin bones would have the notch and others do not have the notch.
A: Vascular patterns in the bone itself will cause notching or roughened areas. Since the information contained within my reply regarding the notching was a passing on of opinions, I think it only appropriate that you take the matter up with the Vet whose position it is that this notching *is* normal. That person is Dr. Ted Stashak at Colorado State University. I'm sure he'll be glad to justify his position for you.
A: Please review my earlier responses regarding this topic and see if they answer your questions. If you need more detailed coverage than what you find in Equerry, go to my Website at askthefarrier.com where I have an article available regarding diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of every type of Club Foot known to me.
However, in short, I will add FYI that certain types of Club Foot have no affect upon a horse. A living example is a 3 year old filly here at my ranch with mild Clubbiness on one front foot that had Check Ligament surgery prior to weaning. I ride this filly regularly and she has some of the best feet I have seen on a horse bar none, is sure-footed as ever, and does absolutely wonderfully.
Q: I have a two year old arab gelding who will not let the blacksmith trim him. We can pick up his feet and clean them out but it takes a lot of effort and time. Would using drugs to calm him down work or do you have any other suggestions?
A: First of all, please let me enlighten you (and others reading this) about the differences between a "Blacksmith" and a "Farrier".
The "Blacksmith" is a trained (hopefully) metal worker who uses hot forges and various metals to create works of art and utility. Though they doubled as Farriers in historical times, and still do today at times (due to lack of Farriers), Blacksmiths are traditionally specialty metal workers.
By contrast, a "Farrier" is a trained (hopefully) equine professional who uses hot forges to create steel and aluminum horseshoes and whose occupational specialty is working specifically with horses' hooves.
As for your question, you can have your Vet administer a sedative on the spot for the purpose of getting the job done in the short term. But, for the long term you need to get with a trainer regarding teaching your horse to stand for the hoof work.
A: Hope everything is okay with your horse. Yes, I have lots of ideas, but they are too many and broad to outline in an email answer. My standard course of action is to place the horse on Bute for about 7 days or so at the acute stage of Laminitis, together with Isoxuprine (maybe for life). Then, I recommend styrofoam padding and stall rest through the Chronic stages at a minimum and adjusting from there. If the horse recovers to an Obel Grade 2 or better, EDSS shoeing might be required for awhile, or, flat NB shoes might work out. Depends. How are things going now? Give a specific update and I'll see what I can recommend.
Q: My 12 year old TB dressage horse is lame in the trot, both front feet. It has been three weeks since my farrier put aluminum egg bars on front and he is still off at the trot. I was told by my vet, after clean x-rays, that his heels are very sore and not much heel to work with. Will I have to wait it out or is there anything else I can do in the meantime?
A: How is your horse doing now? Low heels can make the feet sore and gait off. Trying to bump up the heels with padding may not work, either. I'd pull the shoes and test at a walk, then a trot. If lameness shows have your Vet do a local block and work the block up until the horse is sound under the same testing. If the problem gets isolated your Farrier can go from there. Otherwise, I'd start with a properly balanced foot and St Croix Eventers with full wedge padding for proper alignment (I go into this in detail on my Website at askthefarrier.com) and packing with a bit of oakum in the packing. Use slim blade nails and the same holes with next size up nails for tightening if resetting needs to be done often during the experimental phases to keep the walls from getting blown out. Experiment from that point based upon results.
Q: I have a 19 year old dressage schoolmaster (TB) that I purchased 5 months ago. He was vetted (clean) a few months before. I talked to the vet, he said the x-rays of the feet were good with a bit of "rust" in the joints but the horse was sounder than most 5 year olds and would last a long time with good care. The farrier I'm using initially trimmed the horse (was told he could go without shoes), but he was ouchy. So, the farrier said he was flat-footed and thin-soled and he put aluminum wedge shoes and pads on him. Horse went great but stumbled occasionally. Farrier recently took off the pads (why?), horse was sore, put the pads back on but he is not perfect yet. He says that the horse probably has a combination of pedal ostitis and navicular, but to my eye the wedge shoes seem to make the horse's front legs go behind at the knee. Without shoes, his front legs are correct and straight, with these wedge shoes, his leg goes backward from the knee down. Now, the farrier is talking bar shoes. Should I hurry up and get these wedge shoes off? I'm afraid it is changing the angle incorrectly, something just doesn't look right to me.
A: I can't say the "why" because I didn't do it. Scratch everything and start over by having your Vet do a Pedal Osteitis and Nav radiograph and physical exam. If the testing is clean, lift each front foot and place a hoof knife handle under the frog about 2 inches and lift the opposite foot for a second. If the horse shows discomfort shoe for Navicular. Otherwise, forget Navicular. These TB's are usually pancake footed, shallow soled, and begging for heels. I'd experiment with a modified EDSS shoe without the rails. At a minimum, they need wide web shoes, full pads (leather), maybe packing - maybe not (but at least seal the back of the shoe), heel elevation, and rockered or rounded toes.
Q: As you know, growing Clydesdale feet must be shaped for the show ring using various types of training and show shoes with pads. Can you please provide some tips on how our farrier can train these feet to grow the way they are supposed to and shape the flaring properly?
A: Sure can. Those growing lads need growth shoes w/ a hefty toe clip set into the dorsal toe nicely, and the shoes fitted tight on the medial side to keep the walls steep and extra full on the lateral side to provide the needed room for the vital flaring depending upon how much needs to come out. Your Farrier can take the training shoes and repunch them, or weld steel pieces onto them and punch them, according to where the nail placement needs to be because sometimes you can't get good nails on those young feet. The shoe will pull the flaring out to shape the foot and the shoes should be reset according to growth. You need to also put some Clyde bell boots on the protect the shoes from getting stepped off and also to keep the youngsters from stepping on themselves and bruising. The show shoes and pads can go on the day of show when the training plates are pulled. Oftentimes, the same holes can be used for the show shoes if the aren't too old and putty can fill the clinch holes to dress things up.
Q: We have two horses with the same problem. One is 10 and the other is 17. They were a little lame. We have had 2 blacksmiths out and they cleaned out the front right hoof on one and the front left hoof on the other to get the dirt and mud out. After this, they limp really bad. Once the mud and dirt is packed good in there again, they are fine. Do you know what could be wrong?
A: Why Blacksmiths? Do you not have Farriers in your area? There's a difference between a "Blacksmith" and a "Farrier". Perhaps therein lies part of the problem. It seems like you are saying one horse has problems in the off-front and the other horse has a problem in the near-front. If so, how odd. You give me very little to work with here, but the only thing that comes to mind is that the "Blacksmiths" are digging too aggressively on your horses and getting into the sensitive Lamina - thus the soreness - and you just "think" it has something to do with the actual removal of the material alone because by the time the soreness ceases the area is packed again. I don't see why merely removing the packed dirt would cause this lameness. I do this every day on horses and lameness is never the result.
Q: I need some advice for two of my horses. One is a 6 yr. old TB with pancake, flared feet and hardly any heels. My current farrier says there is not much that can be done and keeping a shoe on will be nearly impossible. Do you know of any method to overcome this problem? My second horse is a 13 year old mare who foundered two years ago and is now sore again in the feet. What can I do to relieve the pressure? This mare is a wonderful dressage and schooling horse and I want to salvage her.
A: Horse #1 - Not much can be done about what? What's the problem? I work with shallow-soled, pancakey-footed, whacky-footed TB's regularly and they will hold shoes. Tell your Farrier to suck up and do the job or get someone who will. As for not holding nails (if that is the problem), there are a multitude of glue-on options available.
Horse #2 - Sounds like you have another bout with Laminitis. This isn't uncommon with Chronic Founder and you need (1) current x-rays NOW - (2) get your Farrier to support the foot through the digital cushion to stabilize P3 - (3) unload the DDFT - (4) reduce the Phlangeal Lever on breakover. I do all of this using Natural Balance trimming and special styrofoam blocks. If the Obel grade / AAEP pain level is a 2 or better, I may use EDSS shoeing. You might want to put her on Bute for a week - ask your Vet.
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