One of the most common questions I get asked by both farriers and clients at the Podiatry Clinic is how can I improve my horses feet. So I offer some basic guidelines below and I will expand on this over time. This whole process has been made easier with the purchase and use of mobile digital x-ray equipment.
Remember the most important factor in this is a good relationship between the vet and farrier. austin cloud The farrier must be fully involved and committed remember the breakfast of bacon and eggs, the chicken was involved but the pig was committed 😉
It is difficult to give general guidelines as each horse is different but when I asses any horse these basics go through my mind:
I try to move the start of break over back to approximately under the tip of P3 or ideally in practice @ 6 mm in front; the point here is to make it easier for P3 to rotate around the end of P2; without radiographs to go by, in the average foot I halve the distance between the apex of the frog and outer surface of the hoof wall at the toe or also go @ 1 to 2 cm in front of the point of the frog as a guide, and either start a gentle roll at that halfway point (barefoot horse) or choose and place the shoe so that the start of break over is located about there (shod horse), ideally using natural balance shoes. Again the devil is in the detail so be careful.
It is important to trim/shoe so that the bulk of the load is borne on the rear two-thirds of the foot (generally, from the apex of the frog back, this is found by trimming carefully at the point of the frog so you get the true apex); this involves trimming so that the bearing surface extends as far back under the heel bulbs as is possible with that foot on that day (“to the widest part of the frog” is a good general guide, although it’s not always possible to get there in one trimming, as each horses foot differs)
In my hands accurate lateral radiographs are very useful in these cases and in an ideal world I would x-ray a clients horse front feet at lease once per year to monitor, more if we have any problems. However the x-rays must be accurate and taken carefully. You do not shoe the radio-graphs you shoe the horse, but they can be very useful guidance aids for your foot care professionals.
I also include a general assessment of the horse’s posture and movement patterns, his occupation, his fitness programme, his past history and his owner’s expectations for him / her , etc.
Over time (usually just a couple of months if it’s done correctly), these feet start to develop more robust heels and generally better digital mechanics. However this is an ongoing process.
The picture below shows the new digital processor at the Podiatry Clinic enabling high quality radiographs to be obtained at the clients stables.