Hoof Care

Thrush Infection Basics

By Greg Toronchuk - Thrush is a common hoof disease which usually has a simple treatment with little or no long lasting implications. However, in some situations, infection left unaddressed can cause long-term lameness. The collateral sulci (the grooves alongside the frog) and the central sulcus (groove in the center of the frog) are the main sites of thrush infection.

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When a person wears the same pair of shoes for a long period of time, some parts of the shoes will wear out before other parts depending on the way the person walks and distributes weight to their feet. Once shoes wear out, the feet are not properly supported. This scenario is also true for hooves and horseshoes. When hooves aren’t trimmed properly or horseshoes don’t fit correctly, the horse distributes its weight unevenly and lands on its feet differently than when properly trimmed or shod.

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When an equine athlete experiences an episode of laminitis or founder it can be a painful experience. While there are numerous studies and articles on the causes of these two maladies, there is also a general consensus on what the hoof capsule experiences after the episodes occur. When a horse experiences a bout of laminitis, whether through injury, overfeeding, or metabolic issues, inflammation of the laminae occurs. The anatomy of the hoof is such that the insensitive laminae are attached to the hoof wall and the sensitive laminae are attached to the coffin bone.

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Accurate diagnosis is critical - A lame horse often means a sudden change in plans, and a lameness diagnosis during the summer is an especially disappointing way to end the show season for a horse and its rider. In addition to conventional lameness therapies, newer treatments such as shock wave therapy, cold compression therapy, and regenerative therapies that use the body’s natural ability to heal may help to return horses to the show ring more quickly.

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“The beginning of the day starts in my shop at about 7:00 am, doing some forge work clipping up shoes and sharpening knives for the day’s work,” says Certified Journeyman Farrier Dean Sinclair of Kelowna, BC. “I have a young man who is apprenticing with me and we are under our first horses at 8:00 am. I have a mixed practice of shoeing show horses, endurance horses, and pleasure horses along with a handful of jumpers. Lunch is generally a sandwich on the run and we wind up the day back at the shop by about 5 pm. All of my appointments are pre-booked so I finish the day calling the next day’s appointments with a quick phone message or text to remind clients. We average about four to six shoeings and five or six trims per day depending on the time of year. Being seasonal work, many farriers will work much longer hours and sometimes seven days a week during the busy time of the year to make up for the slow times over the winter months.”

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When gearing up for endurance and trail riding season, there is a lot of training and preparation that go into it for the rider and horse. Both have to be conditioned to face the 25, 50, or 100-mile race that lies ahead of them. Because a horse will be on its feet in rocky terrain for long periods of time, it’s important that hooves are properly protected, supported, and prepared for any possibilities such as uneven, loose footing, stepping on sharps, cuts, and hoof impacts.

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Navicular disease, now referred to as navicular syndrome, chronic heel lameness, or caudal heel syndrome, was first documented in 1752 by farrier Jeremiah Bridges in his famous book No Foot, No Horse (published some 40 years before the opening of the Royal Veterinary College in London, England).

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