Foot Problems: One Step at a Time

We all should be aware of our level of competence with foot problems–horse owners, veterinarians, and farriers. Since there is no formal education in the field of podiatry, training must be sought on an individual basis.

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How hard are you really working to understand what makes a foot healthy, and what’s happening that could cause problems? Training yourself to observe–not just see–the horse’s foot is the first step. Each person involved with a horse, whether it’s the groom, owner, farrier, or veterinarian, needs to be able to recognize subtle differences today that might mean a major problem down the road. It is this early window of opportunity that can mean the difference between a horse thriving, or merely surviving.

Ric Redden, DVM, who has focused exclusively on podiatry for 30 years during his careers as a farrier and veterinarian, says, "If you don’t see much–you don’t notice changes in your horse’s feet or even notice that all four feet are different–you aren’t a bad owner, you are just uninformed on how to do it."

All owners, trainers, and barn managers should get out their cameras and head to the barn, recommends Redden. Take a picture of each horse’s foot separately, label it, and file it away. Do this immediately, then add to the collection, including pictures taken just before a trim, just after a trim, and in the middle of the trim cycle.

But these can’t just be snapshots taken any old way; they need to be taken in a consistent manner so that you can use them for comparison. Standardization is the key, says Redden

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Written by:

Kimberly S. Brown is the editor of EquiManagement/ and the group publisher of the Equine Health Network at Equine Network LLC.

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