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Your horse’s feet have a story to tell. Learn to read between the lines and determine whether that story’s telling you ‘I’m OK’ or ‘Help me now!’
By Barb Crabbe, DVM
Photographs By Jim Bortvedt
I was called to do a lameness exam. “My mare’s just not right,” my client told me. “One day she’ll seem fine, and the next she’s downright lame. Sometimes it seems like the right front, other days it’s the left. Most of the time she just comes out stiff and gets better after I warm her up. It’s been going on for months. What could be wrong?”
One look at the poor horse standing in the barn aisle, and I already had a pretty good handle on the problem. “Her toes are really long,” I commented, “and see how her heels are drawn forward under the back of her shoe? When was she last shod?” I wasn’t surprised to learn that it had been 10 weeks since she last saw the farrier.
By the end of my exam, we’d confirmed that the mare was extremely sore in both front feet, and didn’t have any significant problems on radiographs other than terrible hoof balance. In fact, her 10-week interval between farrier appointments may have been the primary underlying cause of her frustrating, intermittent lameness.
So how did I know that her feet were the problem before I ever saw her take a step? Simple observation of those long toes and crushed heels was all it took to tell me that her feet were likely to be killing her...
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