“A farrier is, or ought to be, a first line health care provider,” says Dr. Dick Mansmann, Carolina Equine Podiatry. Therefore, trimming/shoeing is a one of many components of sound animal husbandry. In keeping a horse sound, the importance of a comprehensive assessment cannot be overstated. As a partner in your horse’s health, along with you and your veterinarian, the farrier will develop a Hoof Care Strategic Plan:
- One must begin with a review of the horse’s health care records, evaluating any injuries or disease, and the subsequent treatment.
- After reviewing history, attention is turned to the discipline of work and exercise in which your equine partner will be engaged.
- Next, your horse’s diet and resultant body mass index must be evaluated as these are critical factors in his general health and more specifically, his hoof health.
- The horse’s gait must be observed, walking, trotting, and in turns.
- Finally, his hoof quality must be evaluated; this includes its thickness, strength, integrity, and angles. The width, length, and shape of the bottom of the hoof must be measured and incorporated into the hoof care plan.
In cases of lameness, hoof testers or wedge tests may be used. Often the palpation of muscles for soreness, inflammation or heat may be necessary. Occasionally, flexing or extension of suspected joints is useful to identify pain sources.
Paramount to successful management of your horse’s hoof health is to continually monitor and adapt the plan as necessary during the regularly scheduled follow up appointments.
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