Hoof Care

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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.

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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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First let’s begin by locating the navicular bone in the horse. Each of your horse’s hooves contains two bones: the distal phalanx (coffin bone or P3) and the distal sesamoid bone (navicular bone). The navicular bone is a small, boat-shaped bone that is bordered by the coffin bone, middle phalanx (P2), and deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT). It is approximately six centimetres in length and two centimetres in width in the average 1200 pound horse.

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Sophie is a twelve-year-old seven-eighths Hanoverian mare whose main job is dressage. She is also hacked out for an hour or two a couple of times a week. She is fit and robust, but she has recurring bouts of problems with her stifles. Immediately after being shod, she has no issues. But as she gets further along in her shoeing interval her rider notices that her stifles keep catching.

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“How do I know when my horse’s feet need to be trimmed?” This question has been posed to everyone who trims the feet of horses. As a service provider, I can attest that there are a number of answers to that question – and all of them are correct.

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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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