Hoof Care

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Every day, thousands of horses are shod as part of normal maintenance of foot care. But have you ever wondered whether the placement of a horseshoe affects foot skeleton stress in racehorses and performance horses? At Australia’s University of Queensland School of Biomedical Sciences, research team leader Dr. Olga Panagiotopoulou says that musculoskeletal injury is one of the main animal welfare concerns in the racehorse industry.

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Common Conditions, Challenges and Pain Recognition - Keeping a horse comfortable into their senior years requires an attentive caretaker backed by a knowledgeable team. It is important to seek the input from your veterinarian and farrier to help maintain the health of an elderly equine and to spot conditions that will need special treatment sooner rather than later. Recognizing changes and not just dismissing them as “old age setting in” is a large part of the responsibility assumed when caring for the senior horse.

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Proper trimming and awareness of the horse’s sole thickness is vital to maintaining optimal hoof health. Whether the horse is growing back over-trimmed soles or is genetically predisposed to thin soles, it’s important that hoof care professionals examine the conditions the horse is kept in because environment directly impacts sole health. Think of soles as calluses on feet – if you’re active, calluses protect your feet from getting blisters. If calluses are removed from your feet when you’re active or in abrasive conditions, the feet develop blisters and become painful. In order to keep soles in healthy condition, hoof care professionals need to be familiar with the conditions the horse is kept in. If the horse has naturally thin soles, different methods can be applied to help the horse regain sole thickness, depending on its environment.

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Prevention is key to avoiding hoof issues - During her daily field visits to farms and acreages around the Saskatoon area, equine veterinary specialist Dr. Kate Robinson sees a wide range of hoof issues in horses – many of them preventable with a consistent daily hoof care regimen.

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Anyone out there remember the typewriter? You know, that noisy mechanical gadget that slowly tapped out letters on a piece of paper. This relic of communication technology was really a remarkable invention, but hands-up everyone who is glad we don’t have to use it anymore!

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Proper hoof trimming is vital to preventing lameness and injury in horses. Keeping the hoof bars aligned and healthy is also dependent upon trimming. Bars appear as white lines along the frog and are made up of laminae. Think of the bars like plastic straws – if you push on the straw from the end, it stays strong and holds its form. If a straw gets too long, it will likely bend when pressure is applied and become weaker. In order to keep bars aligned and healthy, hooves need to be trimmed and collected on a regular basis. Without healthy bars, a horse can develop a “stacked sole,” or worse, a bruised sole or abscess.

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Diagnosis and Treatment with Proper Trimming and Pour-in Pads - Proper hoof trimming is vital to the horse’s overall health and quality of life. Hooves that are not trimmed properly become uneven, causing the horse’s weight to be unevenly distributed and the horse to land on its feet differently than when the hooves are properly trimmed. Lameness can result.

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