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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Help my horse has gone footy

Footiness is a mixed blessing.  Now don't get me wrong, we would all rather our horses never got footy.  But with the barefoot horse it's a really useful early indicator of something going wrong.  And this is something that I think a lot of people don't quite grasp. 

Footiness is a symptom of less than perfect health.  Sometimes only minor, sometimes something more.  But less than perfect health nevertheless. 

This is a quick list of things to consider:
  1. too much grass
  2. impact on grass of change in environment (rain after drought, several days of frost, fertilizer)
  3. too much sugary/starchy feed
  4. sugary hay (for cool season grasses)
  5. other non specific dietary upset
  6. course of antibiotics
  7. thrush
  8. bruise
  9. corn
  10. abscess brewing
  11. sole been thinned by inappropriate trimming
  12. foot overdue for trimming
Generally speaking if you can remove the causal factor the footiness will resolve within days, although some will take a couple of weeks.  If in doubt always consult with your vet.

But please don't be tempted to shoe until you know what the problem is - you may resolve the footy symptom, but you won't resolve the cause and without the footiness to guide you, you won't know if your horse has been restored to better health.

If you are determined to shoe (and of course I'd counsel against) then only shoe a sound horse.


Barbara said...

I totally agree with not shoeing a horse to correct lameness. Fix the lameness first. I do shoe, I also pull shoes when the horse is not working and I would be horrified to see that going from shoes to barefoot or vice versa changed the way the horse moved. That's very wrong.

Kelly said...

My 4 yr mare has a club foot with a deep central sulcus. She is shod - all 4 feet. Her feet have been healthy - until now. We have been battling with thrush - diagnosed by our farrier - for over a month. She has not been sound on that foot since this began.

Looking at your previous post about heels, what was used to treat and close the crevice?

Lucy Priory said...

It's much easier to sort out thrush if the horse is bare as the hoof mechanism can work properly and the frog can impact the ground. I wash/scrub with salty water every day until all the black has gone and the foot smells fresh. Avoid harsh chemicals, especially those labelled 'thrush treatment' and the like. They usually contain necrotising agents which do as much harm as good. Basic hygiene and bare works best.

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Lucy, would you mind if I put a link to this post on my blog. I think it's a great reminder for horse owners :)

Lucy Priory said...

Hi Kristen - sure :-)

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