Hoof Care

If you’re lucky, you and your horse see your farrier once every six weeks or so, and these visits involve a simple trim or standard shoeing. If your horse has always been sound and performed well, it is likely that regular, routine care by a qualified farrier is more than sufficient to keep his feet in tip-top shape.

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Podiatry in equine veterinary practice is gaining increasing attention. We continue to learn more about the function and biomechanics of the horse’s foot, and develop new and innovative strategies to alter those biomechanics and mitigate problems that lead to lameness in the foot. To achieve a successful outcome, equine podiatry requires a team approach and great cooperation between the owner, the veterinarian, and the farrier. Although a relatively small part of the horse’s body, the foot plays a very important role in soundness. It is simply amazing to consider all of the functions that are occurring in this structure in order to support a horse’s size and weight. It can be even more overwhelming when we start to consider how small changes to the biomechanics of the foot can change the function of the foot, and result in lameness issues for the horse down the road. One of the most common hoof deformities, which develops as a result of a change in the healthy balance and biomechanics in the horse’s foot, is the club foot.

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We have all heard the saying “No hoof, no horse.” Hoof care is a vital part of ensuring horse health, but the best ways to keep hooves healthy are often hotly debated. We worked with UC Davis veterinary hospital farrier Shane Westman, APF-I, to share ten things you might not know about horse hooves.

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Each season brings with it certain needs for equine care, and an annual horse health care agenda can help with some of the planning as the months rapidly roll by. Horse owners are good at knowing the value of organizing and preparing ahead to help their horses stay healthy, and to budget for the more expensive seasonal needs ahead of time.

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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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