PROBLEM

THRUSH

DESCRIPTION

Evident by a foul smell coming from the underside of the hoof, with a black paste like material in the grooves of the frog area. Can be sensitive to touch when active

CAUSE

  • Thrush is a bacterial infection caused by excessive bacteria in the environment –especially in wet, muddy or unsanitary conditions
  • Poor hoof care
  • Some hoof types are more susceptible to this condition

PREVENTION

  • Keep in dry areas and avoid prolonged exposure to wet muddy conditions
  • Pick out feet daily

TREATMENT

There are lots of commercial products on the market to treat thrush. ‘Blue-stone’ (copper sulphate & Vaseline mixed into a paste) applied every other day after cleaning out the hooves is effective

PROBLEM

CRACKS

DESCRIPTION

Vertical cracks of varying widths that run part or all the way down a hoof wall

CAUSE

  • Hot dry conditions

  • Repetitive wet/dry cycles

  • Trimming/ shoeing cycle too long creating weak hoof walls

  • Poor nutrition

  • Low exercise

     

PREVENTION

  • Keep your horse on a regular trimming/shoeing cycle that suits the horse’s conformation

  • Ensure horse is receiving quality feed & minerals

  • Apply hoof dressing daily, especially before hosing

     

TREATMENT

  • Have your Farrier either stabilize or reduce tension on the hoof wall by resection, plates/wires to allow the wall to grow normally
  • Cracks will take at least 9 months to grow out once addressed
  • It is important not to rasp or file the cracks away as this will compromise the hoof wall strength

PROBLEM

FLARES

DESCRIPTION

A distortion of the hoof wall

CAUSE

  • Conformation of the horse
  • Long trimming/shoeing cycles
  • Poor trimming that is not addressing excessive wall length

PREVENTION

  • Shorten trimming/shoeing cycle and ensure Farrier is addressing the flares at each visit

TREATMENT

  • Farrier can determine cause of flares and address the excess growth from the underside of the hoof NOT rasp the side of the hoof wall as this will compromised the hoof wall strength

PROBLEM

HEEL BRUISING

DESCRIPTION

The sole or heel bulbs become discoloured (red or yellow) at the site of the bruising. Also, when the Farrier trims back the foot, previous bruising may be revealed that occurred 6-12 weeks earlier

CAUSE

  • Conformation (thin soles/flat feet)
  • Environment or exercising on hard surfaces

PREVENTION

  • Pick out feet regularly
  • Some horses may need to have frog support and/or sole pads incorporated into their shoeing to provide further protection and support

TREATMENT

  • Use a topical hoof hardener

  • Therapeutic shoeing to assist in healing

  • Serious bruising may need a course of anti-inflammatories which can be prescribed by your equine Veterinarian

     

PROBLEM

ABSCESSES

DESCRIPTION

A pocket of infection within the hoof capsule. Abscesses can burst on their own or may need to be located and lanced by a Veterinarian or Farrier to drain. They can be anywhere in the hoof.
Generally, an abscess is evident by the pointing of and/or difficulty to weight bear of the affected hoof

CAUSE

  • Result of injury or puncture wound
  • Repetitive wet/dry cycles
  • Previous laminitis history

PREVENTION

  • Keep paddocks and horse handling areas clean and free of hazards.
  • Ensure your Farrier sweeps up after each job to ensure no nails or metal filings are left behind

TREATMENT

  • If you suspect an abscess, contact your Farrier to see if the abscess can be located and lanced.
  • Apply a poultice to soften to encourage abscess to drain
  • If lameness still persists, contact Veterinarian to access the lameness in more detail

PROBLEM

CLOSE NAILS

DESCRIPTION

As you can see – it’s a very fine line for Farriers to nail through the hoof wall. Some horses have thin walls and are tricky to shoe. Nails that either penetrate, or are placed too closely to the sensitive tissue (corium) can display signs of pain and or create an infection (i.e. abscess)

CAUSE

  • Generally only seen in the first 10 days after shoeing
  • Conformation of the horse (thin or uneven walls
  • Heavy rasping of hoof walls by Farriers
  • Long shoeing cycles
  • Badly behaved horses that wont stand for the Farrier and are difficult to shoe/nail up

PREVENTION

  • Shorten shoeing cycle

  • Minimise excessive wall rasping

  • Consider horse’s conformation and shoe within its boundaries

  • Use slim nails to minimise wall displacement

  • Train horses to stand quietly for the Farrier

     

TREATMENT

  • Contact Farrier straight away to minimise inflammation and recovery speed
  • Removal of the nail and possibly shoe
  • Apply betadine directly into the nail hole to minimise chance of infection
  • Continue to monitor horse and contact Farrier or Veterinarian if lameness is evident

PROBLEM

WHITE LINE DISEASE / SEEDY TOE

DESCRIPTION

The white line (between outer wall and sole) becomes soft and crumbly. May appear as a crack, which fills with dirt and provides an environment for bacteria to grow. Left untreated, this can compromise hoof soundness

CAUSE

  • Fungal and bacteria infection that eats away hoof tissue
  • Poor living environment
  • Irregular shoeing/trimming cycle
  • Farrier not addressing seedy toe when located

PREVENTION

  • Correct trimming by the Farrier and addressing small cracks and seedy toe at each appointment
  • Avoid keeping horses in wet, muddy conditions for prolonged periods
  • Pick out feet daily

TREATMENT

  • Have the Farrier resect all affected hoof horn and remove all dirt tracks if possible
  • Owner to clean area every other day between Farrier visits and apply thrush treatment or ‘Blue-stone’ as mentioned above
  • Serious cases may need several resections on a number of occasions to resolve the issue

PROBLEM

LAMINITIS

DESCRIPTION

Also termed founder, is Inflammation of the lamina of the foot which is the soft tissue structures that connect the pedal bone to the hoof wall
Horses with hoof pain have a classic stance with front legs stretch out and hind legs underneath the back
Generally, the horizontal rings seen on a horses hoof wall are signs of episodes of inflammation to the inner structures of the foot in the previous 9-12 months

CAUSE

  • Laminitis has several triggers/causes:
    – Indulgence in grain/grass
    – Injury/trauma
    – Colic
    – Pregnancy related
    – Insulin resistance
    – Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), or equine Cushing’s disease

PREVENTION

  • Balance diet – low starch i.e. all aspects of feed ration less than 10% starch/sugar
  • Always read the dietary information label on feed bags to check ingredients/values
  • Provide high fibre diet of at least 16%
  • Correct trimming to horse’s conformation

TREATMENT

  • Treatment varies depending on the trigger
  • Reduce feed intake and cut all carbohydrates (i.e. starch/sugar)
  • Restrict movement by placing in a yard/stall with soft bedding
  • Contact Veterinarian and Farrier to attend and provide hoof support and medications to reduce inflammation and damage to internal structures
  • Management of laminitis is a long term commitment by the owner and requires regular consultation with a Veterinarian & Farrier team.
  • Treatment can last 12 months without any setbacks and cost $5K+. Keep this in mind when considering managing a laminitic horse.

Author: Erin Stevens, Professional Master Farrier

Erin Stevens has been a Master Farrier for 20 years and runs a successful Farrier business in the Hills, Hawkesbury and Wisemans Ferry districts of NSW, Australia.

Erin specialises in Performance horses and working with equine Veterinarians on lameness and therapeutic cases.

Connect with Erin the Farrier.

Horse-keeping practices in Australia:

Findings from a national online survey of horse owners (citation)

TY – JOUR
AU – Thompson, Kirrilly
AU – Clarkson, Larissa
AU – Riley, Christopher
AU – Van den Berg, Mariette
PY – 2017/11/01
SP – 437
EP – 443
N2 – Objective:
To gain an understanding of general horse-keeping practices in Australia, including shelter, social contact, exercise, watering and supplementary feeding.

Methods:
An online survey was conducted with 505 owners in relation to one ‘representative’ horse in their care.

Results:
The majority (83%) of horses were managed at pasture. Approximately one-quarter of those horses were housed alone (26%) or with one companion animal (27%). If horses were confined to a stable or small yard, the most recorded means of exercise was riding (65%) at a daily frequency (60%). Over half of the horse owners provided water in a trough or drinker with an automatic refill system (58%) and most horse owners supplied hay to their horses (82%), most commonly in combination with grazing. Areas of potential concern included one-quarter of stabled horses being prevented from unmediated social and physical contact with conspecifics and one-fifth of stabled horses being exercised less than daily.

Conclusion:
The horse-keeping profile in this study should be considered in the public communication of guidelines as well as interactions between veterinarians and clients.
T1 – Horse-keeping practices in Australia: findings from a national online survey of horse owners
VL – 95
DO – 10.1111/avj.12639
JO – Australian Veterinary Journal
ER –