There’s an old saying: ‘No foot, no horse’ which all horse owners should live by. Kim Dyson discusses some common hoof problems.
The blend of balance and performance is a mix of art and science. There are a few rules that’ll help this result in perfect performance. If we lived in an ideal world where everything worked by a strict code, each horse would have a hoof shod by the perfect shoe to suit his build, conformation, movement, and the focus on the type of sport he does would take second place. But this is not always the case.
There are many abnormal foot conditions, the most common is the under-run heel with a long toe, resulting in little protection of the tissues of the heel and quarter region. Often, lameness is connected to this poor conformation fault and is only visible every now and then when the horse turns or trots on hard ground. The result is a hoof that you and your horse can’t trust.
Changing or permanently correcting the problem is not always a possibility. Your farrier has to consider many variables, for example whether the lameness is coming from the upper part of the leg before deciding on the action to be taken. He may consider egg-bar shoes with a square toe as an efficient remedy for balancing the hooves. An extreme remedy for a badly conformed hoof is hoof wall reconstruction with Equilox.
Another common problem is a thin hoof wall and sole, commonly found in Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses. This makes nailing a shoe an art. The short-term solution is reconstruction of the hoof wall or glue-on shoes. But there are many things a horse owner can change – using shampoos has been found to be detrimental to the quality of the hoof wall. Only shampoo your horse when necessary.
The environment also has a direct influence on hoof quality and balance. If the hoof is continuously exposed to both extremes (wet/dry) the wall will become weak and brittle. Clay and certain soil will also dry out the hoof wall. The type of terrain directly influences the balance of the hoof. Horses from desert or sandy environments tend to have long toes and flat feet, while those having grown up in rocky environments tend to have more upright heels and shorter toes.
Regular (every four weeks) trimming is important. Your farrier should trim young horses’ hooves at least every six weeks. Horses in work with hoof problems should be trimmed or re-set every four weeks. This helps maintain the changes your farrier’s making. Oiling hooves can help with the elasticity of the hoof wall and a good diet will also help with hoof growth. This, in turn, will help your farrier as he’ll have a better quality hoof to work with. Contact Kim Dyson on 082 888 6511. |fw