Advances in Managing Chronic Foot Pain

Improved diagnostics and more promising treatments are putting many foot-sore horses back to work.
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Advances in Managing Chronic Foot Pain
MRI has become the gold standard for diagnosing foot problems. | Photo: Kevin Thompson/The Horse

Improved diagnostics and more promising treatments are putting many foot-sore horses back to work

My mare, Diamond, could be the poster child for the subject of this article. Two springs ago, she was coming along well in her dressage training, and visions of fun outings to clinics and shows were dancing in my head … until the day I got on, and she was off. Left front foot.

The ensuing weeks and months went by in a haze of diagnostic tests, treatment efforts, and veterinary bills. After exams using ultrasound and other, less-expensive modalities proved inconclusive, and time had not, in fact, healed all wounds, I was advised to take Diamond for the gold standard in diagnosing foot problems: MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging.

The MRI revealed the cause of my mare’s foot pain: a lesion in the deep digital flexor tendon around one of her pastern bones. We embarked on a course of some of the latest and greatest treatments, which you’ll read about in this article. High-tech intervention, plus months of stall rest, followed by months of pasture turnout, equal one happy mare who as of this writing is pasture-sound, but who may or may not be a riding horse again

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Written by:

Jennifer O. Bryant is editor-at-large of the U.S. Dressage Federation’s magazine, USDF Connection. An independent writer and editor, Bryant contributes to many equestrian publications, has edited numerous books, and authored Olympic Equestrian. More information about Jennifer can be found on her site,

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