Hoof Care

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Thrush is a common hoof condition caused by a fungal infection that eats away at the tissues of the frog. It is found in the grooves alongside the frog and the cleft in the centre of the frog. If left untreated, thrush will advance deeper into the sensitive areas of the hoof and cause lameness.

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Take an inside look into the latest the scientific studies at the University of Saskatchewan's veterinary college, with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine's semi-annual newsletter: Horse Health Lines.

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Is your farrier certified with the American Farrier’s Association (AFA)? Did he or she serve an extensive apprenticeship at the beginning of their career? Does your farrier pursue additional education?

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One of the most common conditions affecting soundness and performance lifespan of horses is osteoarthritis (OA), with some reports suggesting 60 percent of lameness issues in horses is attributable to OA(1). OA is known across animal and human populations to cause stiff and creaky joint movement. It can make getting up in the morning difficult or slow you down the day after a long run.

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Most horses aren’t simply pasture pets — they provide some sort of active service to their owners. But many horses are not totally sound, and most horse sports don’t allow lame horses to compete. Lameness generally means a horse is in pain; hence, it’s not acceptable to ride lame horses. So, what can owners and riders do? Gerard Laverty says many horses that are less than 100 percent sound are living comfortable lives as “serviceably sound” partners. “It’s most horses that have saddles on,” he says. Laverty teaches the farrier science program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, British Columbia and has his own farrier business.

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The topic of having horses go barefoot vs. shod has been discussed at several American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Annual Conventions and always generates some very informative dialog while raising many important questions. I must say from the onset that I favour horses being maintained without shoes when possible, but it depends on multiple factors.

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The importance of a good farrier is well understood by knowledgeable horse owners who reap the benefits of diligent, routine care. In this article, Certified Journeyman Farrier Sean Elliott provides some great tips for promoting hoof health and explains some pitfalls to avoid.

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Regenerative medicine covers a suite of different technologies that enhance the horse’s natural healing process and help them heal faster. Equine veterinarians have been using regenerative medicine for the past decade to treat joint disease and soft tissue injuries; however, it’s new to many horse owners and only equine veterinarians specializing in sports medicine tend to offer the technologies.

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The word laminitis elicits fear among horse owners because many associate it with the end of the horse’s career, and sometimes the horse’s life. Laminitis is a catastrophic syndrome that should always be treated as an emergency; however, recent research and new techniques used to treat this condition now make it possible to save horses that might have died. A diagnosis of laminitis is no longer a death sentence.

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We ask a lot of our four-legged friends as today’s horses compete throughout most of the year. Whatever the horse’s primary job — from dressage to trail riding and reining to show jumping, the feet are the most common source of lameness. With the advent of preventative drugs such as Legend®, Adequan®, and Pentosan EQ™ we can improve the longevity of our horses’ athletic use, but unfortunately injuries still occur.

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