Approaches to Farrier Care and Laminitis Prevention
By Mark Andrews
Farriers need to work closely with horse owners to spot the subtle signs of the painful condition laminitis, a new study in Equine Veterinary Journal reports.
During this unique study researchers from the University of Surrey’s School of Psychology and School of Veterinary Medicine conducted in-depth interviews with farriers and horse owners to understand how their relationship and their approach to equine care can help prevent laminitis.
Laminitis is a painful, potentially disabling and fatal disease that affects horses’ hooves. It can lead to a horse being humanely euthanized if the effects become so serious that it is inhumane to continue treatment.
Analysis of the interview data revealed two approaches to farrier care: either task-focussed or holistic care-focussed.
Researchers found that farriers who have a holistic approach, place an emphasis on building long-standing, trusting relationships with owners. It is this approach and a commitment to the overall health of the horse that can potentially reduce instances of laminitis.
The study also found that farriers who are more technically-focused can work well with owners who have knowledge and understanding of laminitis, but are not providing more welfare-focused support, particularly useful for owners new to caring for horses.
Figures reveal that 75 percent of horses in Great Britain are cared for by their owner, many of whom are new to horse ownership and may not have the knowledge or skill needed to care for horses at risk of laminitis. In such instances, the role of the farrier is invaluable in helping to identify potential problems such as obesity, so that appropriate referrals can be made to equine vets, nutritionists, and other equine professionals.
Lead author of the paper Jenny Lynden, from the University of Surrey, said: “The relationship between a horse owner and their farrier is not to be underestimated. When more holistic support is required by an owner, farriers who want to and have trained to engage in this way, have a huge role to play in providing this support. The key is to ensure that farriers and owners can be ‘matched’ appropriately, so that owners who require more holistic-focused interventions can access farriers who can and want to offer this type of support.”
A new survey is seeking to extend this understanding by finding out how horse owners and farriers prefer to work with each other. This will help inform support for farriers’ continuing professional development.
The open access article Contracting for care – the construction of the farrier role in supporting horse owners to prevent laminitis is available online in the Wiley Online Library at www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com.
Printed with permission from Mark Andrews, Equine Science Update.