Laminitis is a complex and incompletely understood disease process of the equine hoof that can result in debilitating pain and even in many cases can be life ending. Laminitis can be a secondary complication to disease processes in other parts of the horse’s body or mechanically initiated in instances of increased weight bearing (such as standing limb laminitis in horses with injured legs). Due to the weight of the horse, the tension of the deep digital flexor tendon and the weakened structural integrity of the hoof, the coffin bone may begin to rotate and/or sink distally towards the sole of the hoof.
The primary option left for improving the structural integrity of the
horse’s hoof with rotation of the coffin bone is corrective shoeing. It truly is a situation where the veterinarian and the farrier need to work together. Click here for a laminitis case study.
The veterinarian provides diagnosis, medication and good lateral radiographs with the central beam aimed at the junction between the distal border of the coffin bone and the shoe or ground. The farrier using those films, provides the mechanical portion of the treatment plan.
Take the Healthy Horse Hoof Test
Your answers to this six-question Healthy Horse Hoof Test will provide a score that can help you determine if your current horse hoof care plan is appropriate. Discuss the results of this test with your veterinarian and farrier to assist you in determining the best care for your horse.
Preventive Services: Podiatry Evaluation
A thorough assessment of your horse's feet and early intervention to correct potential problems is key to ensuring a healthy horse and maintaining performance long term. Regardless of the level at which your horse performs you can help keep him at his peak with appropriate foot care. A podiatry evaluation, while focusing on the feet, takes into account the horse as a whole.
This simple annual preventive foot care program could be as important as your vaccinating and deworming preventive programs. Besides specific foot problems evaluated during the examination, other issues may be noted that shoeing may help. This evaluation can help to prolong the athletic life span of your horse, enhance your horse's performance and even improve quality of life and reduce future medical costs.
The goals of a podiatry evaluation:
I) Increase awareness of your horse's unique feet to enhance your management and your farrier's and veterinarian's work.
2) Take preventive care a step beyond vaccination and deworming. After all, "No hoof, no horse."
3) Provide baseline information for future annual comparisons.
4) Have the owner, farrier, and veterinarian work together to prolong equine foot health.
5) Promote this concept as a common equine veterinary practice to reduce preventable foot problems such as laminitis.
This is achieved by:
- Assessing overall body condition.
- Taking lateral radiographs of the feet.
- Measuring the radiographed position of bones within the horse's hoof.
- Considering horse age, work, and management factors.
- Developing a plan of action for the owner/farrier/veterinarian to optimize the horse's physical well being and performance.
Click here for information on three silent but potentially painful conditions for horses.
Pop quiz: does the above masked radiograph look like a reasonable hoof?