Trouble's Afoot: Signs Your Horse Has a Hoof Problem Brewing

Trouble's Afoot: Signs Your Horse Has a Hoof Problem Brewing

Your veterinarian can use hoof testers (pictured), wedge tests, nerve blocks, and imaging to determine why your horse is shifting his weight frequently.

Photo: Kevin Thompson/The Horse

6 signs that a hoof problem is brewing

Part of the enjoyment of owning horses is the sensory experience of being at the barn: the sight of content, well-cared-for horses; the low, throaty nickers welcoming your visit; the sounds of happy munching; the sweet, fragrant aroma of hay. But the sights and smells of a hoof problem can tarnish that idyllic experience in a hurry. 

You might be able to manage some hoof issues without calling in professional help. However, sometimes a pro—your farrier and/or your veterinarian—must provide advice and treatment to restore not only your horse’s soundness but also your peace of mind.

“When the owner notices a hoof problem, usually the first line of defense—other than their own knowledge—will be their farrier,” says Raul Bras, DVM, CJF, of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. “But when acute lameness is involved, owners will want to call in their veterinarian to determine if there’s some type of pathology (disease or structural damage) involved.

“I’m a huge believer in a team effort,” he adds. “I think it’s imperative when treating a foot problem. The veterinarian has expertise in diagnostics and pathology, and the farrier can bring a lot of skill regarding forces, mechanics, and shoes to address the problems that the veterinarian finds.”

Get the March 2017 issue of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care to learn about six common signs of a hoof problem and which ones you can safely manage yourself and when to call in your farrier and/or veterinarian.

About the Author

Diane E. Rice

Diane E. Rice earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism from the University of Wisconsin, then melded her education and her lifelong passion for horses in an editorial position at Appaloosa Journal. She currently works as a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and photographer and has served on American Horse Publications’ board of directors. Rice spends her spare time gardening, reading, serving in her church, and with her daughters, grandchildren, and pets.

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