Wednesday, November 21, 2012

EHV-1 Uitbraak

Momenteel heeft de Britse Horse Racing te maken met een uitbraak van Equine Herpes type 1. Er wordt hard aan gewerkt om de uitbraak onder controle te krijgen. 

Wat is EHV-1? en wat moet u doen als u vermoed dat uw Paard besmet is?

Equine Herpes Virus type 1 Neurologische (EHV-1) is een ernstige ziekte bij paarden waarbij een ontsteking ontstaat van de kleine bloedvaten in het ruggenmerg en / of de hersenen.

EHV-1 Neurologische ziekte kan worden overgedragen:
door de lucht van infectie van de luchtwegen
door direct of nauw contact tussen paarden
door contact met besmette apparatuur, kleding of handen.

Een genetische test voor het identificeren van latente paarden dragers van EHV-1 Neurologische zijn beschikbaar.


Paarden met EHV-1 neurologische aandoening hebben een zwakte en verlamming van de spieren van de achterpoten, dat gebrek aan coördinatie, lopen afwijkingen en het onvermogen om op te staan ​​vanuit een zittende positie veroorzaakt.

De tijd tussen een eerste EHV-1 infectie van de luchtwegen en het begin van neurologische symptomen duurt ongeveer 8 - 12 dagen. De neurologische symptomen verschijnen plotseling en bereiken een maximale intensiteit binnen 48 uur.


Paarden met symptomen dienen te worden geïsoleerd en moet 40 meter of meer van de andere paarden. Eigenaren moeten contact opnemen met hun dierenarts.

Dierenartsen die  EHV-1 Neurologische aandoeningen vermoeden moeten contact opnemen met overheidsfunctionarissen en protocollen volgen voor het verzamelen en indienen van de nodige monsters voor laboratoriumonderzoek.

Terwijl vaccins beschikbaar zijn, wordt geen specifiek gelabeld voor de neurologische vorm van EHV-1.

EHV-1 Neurologische is bestand tegen vaccinatie en de prognose voor niet liggende paarden is gunstig, maar zeer slecht voor paarden die omlaag blijven langer dan 24 uur.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Donkey Trimming

I am now offering my E-Book 'Trimming for Comfort' for a special price for a limited time only.The book covers the basics of trimming donkeys. 

I have written the book as it has become clear to me over the years that throughout the world there is not enough time spent teaching the differences between a horses and a donkeys foot. The problem with this is that there are many, many donkeys worldwide being trimmed as if they were a horse, leading to hoof problems and lameness.
I have been shoeing horses for more than 15 years and have in the last 5+ years specialized in the trimming and orthopaedic shoeing of donkeys. A field that for one reason or another not many people specialize in.

I have worked in many different countries for different animal welfare organizations that rescue and find loving homes for mistreated and over worked animals. This work has introduced me to many different kinds of hoof problems. It still surprises me in this day and age the condition of the feet of some of the donkeys that I treat.

You can purchase the book from my website

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Winter Shoes

Yes, I know, It’s still only September! However, you can never be too prepared when it comes to the weather.

So, the question is What will you do with your horses feet this year?

You have luckily a number of choices to suit your personal situation. Many remove their horses shoes for the winter. An excellent choice if you will not be riding much when the weather is bad. A few months without shoes can be beneficial for your horses feet. There is also less chance that the feet will fill up with snow causing discomfort and possibly a dangerous situation.

If you will be riding a lot during the winter or your horse just doesn’t quite like the feeling of going barefoot, what are the options?

Standard Shoes or Concaves

Of course you can stick to the same setup as for the summer. Greasing in the soles before riding is believed to help against snowballing to a certain extent. I would however recommend the use of a concave or self-cleaning shoe. The inside of the shoe is tapered to a point against the foot, this vastly reduces the chance of mud or snow sticking in the foot.


               Standard Shoe                                              Concave Shoe        

Pins, Studs & Pads

Another option available when Shoeing in the winter is to use Tungsten anti-slip pins or nails, for use on ice and hard ground. Studs with tungsten tips are a little more extreme for use in hard snow and ice. Application of a full pad also helps reduce the snowballing effect within the sole.


Personally, I use and recommend Snow pads. The shape of the pads help to stop snowballing, but dosen’t cover the whole sole. This allows cleaning of the frog and sole. I use these pads in combination with Pins or Studs, depending on the weather conditions and riding schedule.

Your farrier will be able to advise you on which combination best is for your personally situation. 

Also feel free to email me any questions to

With the right shoeing you will be able to continue riding right throughout the winter.
Just don’t forget to wear warm socks!!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Caring for a Horse with Cushing's

Cushing's disease can be scary. This endocrine disease is caused by a tumor which affects the pituitary gland. It is often seen in ponies and elderly horses, and results in high levels of cortisol and various symptoms such as excessive thirst, excessive urination, hyperglycemia, excessive eating, and a shaggy coat.

While these symptoms may be daunting, you may be asking why this disease is thought to be so scary. Cushing's compromises the immune system in your horse, threatening your horse's health and even life. As of now, there is no cure for this disease.

However, not all hope is lost. With proper care and a close eye on the horse's nutritional needs, many horses suffering from Cushing's disease can live longer, happier lives.

Caring for a Horse With Cushing's

Horses with Cushing's disease need routine care. Any changes to their horse feed, diet, or medication can negatively impact their already compromised health. While many areas of care may seem mundane and small, they are all essential to providing your horse with a better quality of life.

Consider the following horse health tips when dealing with Cushing's:

Deworming - Horses with Cushing's are more likely to contract parasites due to their compromised immune systems. Make sure to contact your vet and schedule regular appointments for deworming, as well as other basic care, such as ongoing horse health exams and dental care.

Farrier Care - Hoof abscesses, laminitis, and other hoof and leg conditions are often seen in Cushing's horses. Horses may display a tender footed stance or act as if the leg is bothering them. If you notice any signs of trouble, contact your farrier for an appointment. Be sure to also schedule regular appointments with your farrier, even if you do not notice any signs of trouble.

Grooming - Many horses with this disease have trouble with temperature regulation and their coat. You can assist your horse with this problem, however, by taking the time to groom him on a regular basis. Always ensure his coat is clean and dry, especially before you blanketing him or using a saddle. This will help prevent skin conditions from developing. You may also want to consider body clipping when the weather becomes hot or humid.

Feed - Feeding a Cushing's horse correctly is essential to a longer and happier life. Many need help regulating their insulin and blood glucose levels. This means you must ensure the sugar and starch in their diet is controlled. This may mean limiting the amount of pasture your horse feeds on and using supplements to control your horse's insulin level.

Consider feed that contains mehionine, biotin, lysine, complete trace minerals, and vitamin E in. These will support the growth of the hoof, assist in maintaining muscle mass, and support the immune system.

With these tips, you should be more equipped to keep your horse's health in check and provide him with a happier and brighter future. While there may not be a cure for Cushing's disease, proper care can help to extend your horse's life.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Be your farriers favourite customer

Before i start, don’t get me wrong!! I enjoy trimming and shoeing all of the horses in my customer list. If every horse stood quietly with its feet raised, just waiting for me to start work, my life would be A LOT easier. There would of course be a lot more farriers, and less work to go around. I would like to also make it clear that this is by no way a complaint or comment about a particular customer or situation. Regard this more as an tiny piece of honest, friendly advice on how to become your farriers favourite customer. If you live in an area where farriers live all around you and it is easy for you to get an appointment, you can probably stop reading now. If however, you live, like most people, in an area where it is not always easy to get a farrier to come round to trim or shoe your horse, this advice could be a real gem.

Many farriers are working long hours and on a very tight schedule. Very often I hear that the only complaint a horse owner has regarding their farrier, is that “he always turns up late!!” which brings me to my first tip..
When your farrier turns up, have you already caught your horse and have him ready to be trimmed/shod? If the answer is No, it is probably because you have been let down before and why should you stand around waiting only for your farrier to turn up late?! This unfortunately creates the very problem that you, as a customer hate. Another reason that your farrier could get held up is when a customer has an appointment for 2 horses and these 2 horses magically become 3 or 4. Your farrier will want to do them straight away, to save on fuel costs and time but he will then be late for his next appointment and so on. If there is any change in the number of horses to be trimmed/shod, let your farrier know in advance. There are of course times when farriers make a mistake or don’t plan enough time for an appointment. I think it then also good manners to contact the customer(s) that will be affected as soon as it is known that there is a hold up.

Do you have a place for your farrier to work that is clean, dry and providing the necessary amenities such as water and electric? It is not always possible to have such a work area for your farrier and your farrier more than likely understands that. It does however make a big difference when your farrier doesn’t have to walk around in circles or get soaking wet..

I love dogs! I really do!! I love them so much that the thought of your lovely dog being flattened by your horse really turns my stomach. Horses (even the bomb-proof ones) will, from time to time be startled or put their foot down unexpectedly. Please make sure your other four-footed friend is not in the vicinity when this occurs..  

If you would like to pay your farrier at a later date, let them know before work commences. We live in a digital age where many people no longer carry cash, and many farriers have a payment machine in the car. However not all farriers work digitally and they would expect to get ‘the butter with the fish’ as they say in Holland. If you want to get credit in shops etc. You would probably be first subject to a credit check. I for one would not know where to begin when checking a customers credit rating. I also have no problem at all if my customers pay at a later date, but to expect credit without first asking is a little bit cheeky..

Once again, I would like to say that this is by no means a rant. Why would it be?? All of my customers are ‘perfect’ customers!! It is however the small details that make a business relationship a good one.

I would like to write an article on how to be the customers favourite farrier and I invite you to send me your ‘tips and advice’ to me at
Thanks for reading!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ik denk dat uw paard een Koliek heeft..

“Ik denk dat uw paard een koliek heeft” Woorden om angst in het hart van een paarden eigenaar te jagen. Maar wat is koliek? Op welke tekenen moet u  letten?

Koliek verwijst naar pijn, van oorsprong uit de buik. Over het algemeen tolereren paarden  geen buikpijn, dus als er een verstoring van de darmfunctie is vertonen ze vaak tekenen van pijn. Tekenen van een licht ongemak laten ze zien door een gestrekt lijf, staande als om te plassen, en over de grond schrapen. Als het pijnlijker wordt  gaat het paard staan en liggen op en neer, en rollen om te proberen  meer comfortabel te worden. Hij zal beginnen te zweten. In een meer ernstig geval zal het paard opstaan en liggen en voortdurend rollen.
Als u denkt dat uw paard koliek heeft, moet u meteen contact opnemen met een ervaren paarden dierenarts. Hij of zij zal in staat zijn om noodhulp te verlenen en de pijn te verlichten en de vraag of verdere behandeling noodzakelijk is vast te stellen.
Wat kunt u doen terwijl u wacht op de dierenarts? Het nemen van uw paard voor een wandeling helpt vaak. Het kan aanmoedigen zijn ingewanden  normaal te laten werken en de pijn te verzachten. Het kan ook voorkomen dat hij gaat liggen en rollen. Als hij stil gaat liggen laat hem daar blijven.
Vroeger dacht men dat een paard een verdraaide darm kon veroorzaken door te rollen. Dat is waarschijnlijk niet waar. Het beste is proberen om te voorkomen dat hij gaat rollen. Op die manier voorkomt u dat hij zichzelf verwondt  door te bonzen op de stalmuren. Wees voorzichtig dat je zelf niet gewond raakt. Paarden vergeten vaak al hun normale omgangsvormen als ze pijn hebben.
Er zijn veel verschillende redenen dat paarden koliek krijgen,  maar de tekenen lijken vaak ongeacht de oorzaak hetzelfde.
Wat zal de dierenarts doen om het probleem te onderzoeken? Hij of zij luistert naar de buik met een stethoscoop om te vertellen of er meer of minder activiteit in de darm is dan normaal.
De hartslag geeft een goede indicatie van de ernst van de pijn en de ernst van het probleem.  Als een paard een normale hartslag heeft, gaat het waarschijnlijk niet over een ernstig probleem. Overwegende, een hoge hartslag is niet zo'n goed teken.
Een zeer nuttig onderdeel van het examen is het rectale onderzoek. Door te voelen door de darmen kan de dierenarts de oorzaak van het probleem vaak vinden. Het spreekt vanzelf dat dit een zeer ervaren procedure is die potentieel gevaarlijk kan zijn voor zowel de dierenarts en het paard. Maar voor een ervaren paarden dierenarts is de informatie die het geeft van onschatbare waarde bij het bepalen van de aard van het probleem. Het kan onthullen of er een verstopping is of een gezwollen lus van darm als gevolg van een twist of intestinale ramp.
In alle, maar de meest eenvoudige gevallen kan de dierenarts een sonde inbrengen via de neus in de maag. Het klinkt vervelend, maar vaak kan het paard meer comfortabel worden door het vrijgeven van de druk in de maag.  het kan ook de dierenarts nuttige informatie geven over de vraag of de maag goed leeg wordt.
Soms heeft het paard zoveel pijn dat het onmogelijk is voor de dierenarts naar behoren het paard te onderzoeken  zonder hem eerst een dosis van sedatieve of pijnstiller te geven.
Alleen door rekening te houden met alle tekenen en een zorgvuldig onderzoek is de dierenarts in staat om een ​​voorlopige diagnose te stellen. Zelfs dan is het misschien niet mogelijk om precies te vertellen wat er gaande is.
Soms na het eerste onderzoek, zal het duidelijk zijn dat het paard een spoedoperatie nodig heeft, maar de dierenarts  besluit  vaker in het algemeen om het paard te behandelen met een kortwerkende pijnstiller en zijn toestand te herzien na een paar uur. De meeste gevallen tonen een snelle verbetering. Maar sommigen zullen ofwel niet reageren op de behandeling, of ze zullen verbeteren op het eerste gezicht, maar later opnieuw beginnen met tekenen van pijn.
In plaats van de dierenarts een paar keer te roepen, is het meestal beter om deze zaken over te laten aan een gespecialiseerde paarden praktijk waar zij nauw kan worden gevolgd en een operatie kan worden uitgevoerd indien nodig.
De meeste gevallen reageren gelukkig op een medische behandeling. Als er een chirurgie nodig is, is het belangrijk om vroeg te opereren. De kans op een succesvol resultaat is veel beter als de operatie wordt uitgevoerd voordat er te veel schade is ontstaan.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Longer sliding stops

Teaching your horse longer sliding stops

Once your horse is consistently stopping in one stride and sliding a couple of feet when you say, “whoa”, you can begin to teach him to do a longer sliding stop.  Before you start this training make sure your horse is good at the short sliding stops, so that you will have a foundation to build on.

The length of your horse’s slide is established by several factors.  They are as follows:

The horse’s natural ability and aptitude for stopping
The type of ground you are riding on
The horse’s shoes
The rate of speed the horse is going into the stop
The manner the rider cues the horse to stop, rein work and posture

Each one of the above factors effects your horse’s slide.

It is important to understand almost any horse the ability to perform a little two-footed slide on good ground.  Not every horse is able to learn to slide fifteen or twenty feet.  For you to accomplish this, the horse must have both the ability and the desire to learn to stop and slide.

Trying to train a horse to make a long sliding stop that isn’t so inclined to making that kind of stop will have the end results of your training sessions becoming harsh and unpleasant for both of you.  Your horse could end up being frightened of you and it still won’t stop well on a consistent basis.  So it’s important to make sure that your horse wants to become a long-slide stopper

So how will you be able to tell if he wants to learn?  If stopping while at a trot or a slow lope was easy for him to learn, there is a good chance you will be able to train him to become a long-slide stopper.  This is assuming you have advanced the stop gradually and your horse has the physical strength to hold a hard stop.

On the other hand, if you have had a difficult time training your horse to stop at a trot or slow lope, it’s not worth trying to teach him to advance the stop.  He will resist the training and both of you will end up frustrated.

The ground is another factor that affects how well the horse can slide.  Long slides just won’t happen on the wrong kind of ground.  Good sliding ground is ground that consists of a hard, smooth packed base with two to three inches of loose dirt on top.   This gives your horse the advantage of a solid base to slide on, which will stop him from digging in his hooves too deep and shortening his slide.  It must be smooth or your horse’s feet might catch in a rut.  This could shorten the slide or injure your horse.

The loose, fluffy dirt on top of the base will soften the impact of the feet hitting the hard base.  Without this cushion your horse can get sore.  The loose dirt is easy for your horse to plough through while sliding.  If the top layer is too deep or heavy, your horse won’t be able to slide far.  He will also need outstanding strength to hold a slide in deep, heavy dirt.

You can improve your sliding ground by adding rice hulls or shavings to it.  This will make the top layer a lot more light and fluffy.

The shoes your horse is shod with will also have an impact on his ability to slide.  You must use sliding shoes made of tempered, flat bar iron.  They are about one inch to an inch and a half wide.  The wider they are, the less friction they have on the ground and the longer the slide.

The nails of the horseshoe are counter sunk, so that they are flush with the shoe.  This helps to reduce friction.  The front quarter inch of the shoe is curved upward a lot like the beginning end of a snow ski.  This will prevent the horse’s toes from jamming or catching on the ground while they are sliding.  The shoe’s quarters should come almost straight back from the curve of the toe, which will allow dirt to flow easily out the back.

The trailers of the shoe should not extend back to, but not past, the bulbs of the foot.  You need to trim the hind feet with a slightly longer toes and lower h eel than usual.   You are doing this to create more surface area on the hooves and increase the potential of the slide.  It also reduces the danger of the horse catching his toe in the dirt, which will send him knuckling in the dirt and injuring himself.  These slight changes are good, but don’t make the mistake of thinking MORE is better.  Trimming the heels too high will cause the horse to knuckle over and pull a tendon while trying to stop.  Trimming the heels too low you will run the risk that he will strain a hamstring.

The build of your horse is also important.  The horses with the greater advantage for sliding have straight hind legs and feet that point straight ahead.  Their feet are able to stay together during a slide.  However when the horse’s back feet toe out will begin to spread as the horse goes into a slide and the longer the slide the farther out the hind legs will spread.  He will have to come out of the slide to bring his feet back together.

If a horse has this problem the horse will make V shaped slide tracks.  The horse’s owner can correct this just by slightly turning the horseshoe so it points straight ahead.  It can also help to rock the toe just a little toward the inside of the foot.

The speed your horse is running when it goes into the stop is a most important factor in determining the length of the slide.  For example, if you want your horse to do a sliding stop the length of the arena floor, you will start at a slow speed and gradually build up speed, a little with each stride, until you ask for the stop.

You must ask for the stop during the horse’s acceleration.  During the acceleration, your horse’s shoulders will be more elevated and his back feet will reach further beneath him.  Both of these things are necessary fundamentals for a good long slide.

Make sure you carefully time his acceleration.  You don’t want the horse to be moving too fast when you ask for the stop.  If he is going too fast he may ignore the signal to stop.   A horse’s instinct will let the horse know how fast they can run and still attempt a stop.  By making him run faster, he will concentrate more on the running and forget about the upcoming stop.  He might not have the strength to hold a hard stop over a certain speed and in essence he won’t try it.  Plenty of practice and experimenting will help you to find your horse’s optimum running speed for a long stop.

Remember; don’t ask your horse to hard stop from his top-speed to often.  He will sour if you do.  Always remember to use skid boots to protect his fetlocks during the skid.

Having your horse accelerate too quickly, then begin to slow as you near the stop; you will usually have a disappointing slide.  The horse is decelerating when you ask for the stop, so there is no need to do it twice.

You must ask your horse for a stop while the horse is running on a straightaway, never during a turn or curving.  The horse’s body should also be aligned straight as if an imaginary line were drawn from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail when you ask for a stop.  If your horse is even slightly crooked when you ask him to stop, he will not be in balance during the stop, which can be dangerous for both of you.  To ensure a straight stop, make sure he’s running a straight path down the arena, not veering or zigzagging.

The method used by the rider to cue the stop is critical.  The reins must be used correctly, have perfect timing, and great posture to enable your horse to slide a long distance.  It is just as important to know what not to do as it is to the correct method to use.

Pulling harder on the reins will produce a shorter slide, instead of a longer one.  The reason is because the hard pull makes your horse spread his hind legs too far and jam his feet too deeply into the ground to slide that far.  A horse needs the use of his head and neck for balance in a long slide, and he won’t have that if the rider is yanking on the reins.

There are three techniques you can try to do this correctly.  You may need to try all three, but then the first one may work.  Each horse responses differently which is the reason for the three different techniques.  It will be your task to find the technique that works the best for you and your horse.

When stopping your horse for a slide, the best way is to keep slack in the reins and say, “Whoa!”  This signals your horse slide as long as possible, because the rider is not interfering with him.  Just remember to use light pressure, do not pull.   Without the distraction of the reins being pulled, he can slide as far as he wants.  For this method to be effective, your horse has to want to stop and enjoys the slide.  The average horse will more likely than not stop this way consistently.

Another method is to say; “Whoa!” while applying light pressure on the reins, then let your horse slide with no more interference from you.  You must use light pressure do not pull.  By applying a pound or two of pressure and setting your hand solid, without pulling or allowing slack in the reins, will allow your horse to slide as far as he can.

This last technique will usually work on the majority of horses.  When you ask for the stop, say, “Whoa!” , wait just a split second, then apply rein pressure, set your  hand, and allow slack in the reins, but only an inch or two, not too much.   Almost immediately the horse will go into the stop.  The horse will continue to slide with the reins slack.

Set your hand again, if you feel your horse start to release the stop and then again slack the reins once more.  This set, slack maneuver repeats throughout the entire slide until the horse has come to a complete stop.

 The whole whoa-set-slack technique seems to work well because after giving the verbal cue, waiting just a split second gives the horse a chance to enter the slide on his own.  His hooves enter the ground more smoothly than they would if he was startled by the “whoa” and rein pressure at the same time.

When the horse’s hooves are set and sliding, the short pressure with the reins will remind him to stay in the slide.  Immediately slacking the reins, allows the horse to slide as far as he wants.  If you were to keep constant pressure, this would cause the horse’s hooves to dig into deep and prematurely end the slide.  It can also cause the horse to become rigid and pull.

If the horse tries to stop the slide the quick set-slack reminds him to remain in the slide.  Do not set the reins again unless you feel the horse has begun to come out of the slide.  Considering a long slide only takes a few seconds, this set-slack also happens very rapidly.  The rider must pay attention to the feel of the horse to get this one right.

One last key element the rider must do to cue the stop is to relax his body.  You will use your body to generate energy and help the hose accelerate forward as you ride.   When you ask for the stop, your must also stop.  To be more specific, you must sit down, stop the movements of riding and relax in the saddle with your back, shoulders and thighs limp.

As your body relaxes, it is a stopping cue your horse will instantly recognize and respond to.  Timing is an important key.  Keep riding until you cue that stop, or your horse will recognize the change in body language and will stop too early.  This can ruin the slide.

The posture of your body is very important in getting the best possible slide from your horse.  It will take practice.  You and your horse will not be doing any lengthy slide overnight.  Just remember to concentrate and keep practicing.  You both will have it together sooner or later.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sudden Lameness

            Common Causes of Sudden Lameness in the hoof

The day of the big trail ride is here.  You go out to the barn whistling a happy tune; you couldn’t be happier this morning.  Is there anything better than a long, lazy trail ride on a cool autumn day?  You grab a halter and call Sparky to the barn.
Sparky turns his head to you and nickers.  Then he starts to make his way up to the barn.  You notice he is wearing a cast and walking on crutches; the other horses are pushing a wheelchair just behind him.  He can barely crawl 2 metres before the pain overtakes him; he lies back down and fumbles with his pain pills.  You still think maybe old Sparky can make it for the trail ride, so you call him again.  Sparky drags himself across the grass on his stomach until he reaches you and collapses.  Sparky’s big sad eyes tell you all you need to know; you are not going on a trail ride today.  You have been hoofed.

Hoof issues can strike anytime, anywhere, often without warning.  The good news is that an issue that seems to pop up overnight is usually easily addressed with time off and some simple remedies.  The horse should return to full function, good as new, within a few days.

Obviously, when a horse presents like old Sparky the first thing the horse owner should do is grab a hoof pick and check for embedded stones and pebbles or foreign objects like metal, nails or glass.  A lot of horse owners are uncertain as to which hoof hurts and while they have had the head bobbing theory explained,  it is like algebra; you think you get it until it is time for the big test, then you forget everything.  Basically put, a horse will bob his head when he is putting weight on the hoof that hurts. (see my previous article ‘is your horse lame’)  It is also relatively easy to figure out the source hoof by asking Sparky to give his feet to be picked.  He will most likely balk or refuse to pick up his good hoof; in other words, he does not want his weight to be on his bad hoof while you are picking his good one.  Use this opportunity to feel for any heat in the hoof; feel all feet as an indication of normal temperature to better judge if one hoof is “hot.”  Check his legs up to his shoulders as well for any soreness or potential swelling or injury; sometimes horse owners go right to the foot and forget that a leg or shoulder injury can cause limping as well.  Also consider when he was trimmed last; if it was very recent, could he be sensitive?

There are a few rapid onset hoof issues that usually don’t require a lot of extraordinary care.

Ø Abscesses: If a horse steps on a sharp object that punctures the sole or whiteline of his hoof, a hole is created through which dirt can enter.  The hoof immediately surrounds the invading dirt with pus and tries to expel it; sometimes it “blows” back out through the sole, and sometimes it “gravels,” or moves upwards to “blow” out of the coronary band.  There are and have been many ideas on treating an abscess.
Ø  As a farrier in Europe, I will say, you should call the vet. The vet will sometimes refer the horse to the farrier. I will however never walk away from a horse with an abscess. I will open the abscess and flush it, I will also recommend that the foot be kept clean and dry for a couple of days. Usually the horse will show immediate improvement.
Common Abscess in the Whiteline.
Ø Another popular way is to do an Epsom salts soak, wrap the hoof in a babys nappy, and then tape it in place.  Others feel soaking the hoof makes it too soft and vulnerable to more injury.  Some say leave the horse stalled, others say letting him out will allow his body to “pound” the abscess out naturally.  A few horse owners call a vet out immediately, others tough it out, and still others call the farrier.  No matter what form of treatment you may take, If the horse is not getting better within a few days, call the vet to insure there is no infection that needs to be addressed.

Ø Stone bruises: These purplish or dark gray colored spots on the bottom of a horse’s hoof indicate that he stepped on something that has caused a bruise.  Generally, these will clear up on their own but they can occasionally turn into an abscess.  If the horse is not better within a day or two, consider calling the vet to have him examined and be sure the bruise has not turned into something more worrisome, like an abscess.

Ø Embedded objects:  If a horse can find it and step on it, he will.  Metal such as nails, pebbles from standing on stone dust or walking in the pasture, or pieces of glass can puncture the sole.  If you can pull the object out in its entirety, do so and then monitor the horse for the development of an abscess.  You may need to consider calling a vet out for a tetanus shot for Sparky; call him and see what he thinks.  If the object is deeply embedded or you do not think you can safely pull it out, call in the vet or the farrier.

Even though you may not be riding Sparky for a few days, take comfort in knowing that his sudden development of hoof and foot pain is usually caused by one of these three things and with the right care and a little recovery time, old Sparky will be back to spooking at horse-killing rocks on the trails in no time.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Clubfoot on the increase

Why is Clubfoot on the increase?

It has become noticeable to me that cases of clubfoot in young horses are on the increase. Why? It is my belief that people are keeping young horses far too many hours a day stabled and when let out to graze they are on increasingly smaller paddocks and more often than not, without other foals to play with. Of course some cases will be hereditary but I truly believe that most of the cases I come across could be solved by ensuring that the foal gets enough daily exercise.  I have noticed that paddocks are becoming increasingly smaller, probably due to the increased cost of hay and the increased number of horses. I believe that this is the underlying problem. If a foal does not get enough exercise and the mare is being fed high energy foods, due to the lack of grass/grazing time this will cause the muscle of the limb that is mostly at rest to atrophy, causing club-foot.

low grade clubfoot
Clubfoot is the common name for an upright foot that has a foot axis of more than 65 degrees. The foot is dished in the toe and high in the heel. Deep flexor tendon appears contracted when the foot is manipulated.  It may have hereditary (prevalent in certain breeds of show horses), nutritional, traumatic or behavioural origins. Acquired deformities are usually due to over-nutrition or trauma to the limb causing the foot to be rested in turn causing the muscle to atrophy.

Clubfoot is a permanent deformity once it develops and yet, even though it has become a hereditary problem, it is often ignored due to other positive characteristics.

The deep digital flexor tendon is always involved, the dorsal surface of the distal phalanx (coffin bone) will develop osteitis and the tip of the bone may become seriously remodelled. At this stage the horse is rarely free from pain. The foot will resemble that of a foundered horse and may be more susceptible to laminitis.
Many Club-footed horses after surgical or non-surgical treatment have gone on to have successful athletic careers. A club-footed horse must be regularly treated by a skilled farrier to trim the heels back and dress the foot at the toe. Rarely will the hoof be trimmed forward of the point of frog.

I cannot advise on particular cases, but I can advise that foals be trimmed from a very early age. Your farrier will notice a difference in the growth of the feet and can trim accordingly. As the owner, it is then your responsibility to make sure that the feet are trimmed regularly and that the foal gets enough exercise each day. Doing this we can reduce greatly the chance that your foal will develop a clubfoot and increase the pleasure you will both have in the future.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Spotting Lameness

Is your horse lame?
Lameness is the nightmare of all horse owners. Having a horse that is lame not only means that our horse is in pain, potentially large vet bills and time spent treating the problem, but also lost time enjoying your horse.

Sometimes when riding or watching your horse running in the paddock, you’ll notice that something isn’t quite right, and sometimes it is difficult to know which leg they may be lame on if you don't know what to look for. So, if you think your horse is lame, what do you need to do?
For starters, as long as your horse doesn't appear to be walking on three legs (in which case, call the vet/farrier), it is both a good idea to lunge him each way to see if he is favouring a particular leg, as well as getting someone else to trot him away from and towards you. Make sure you are on a level, even and hard surface as a soft surface overexerts the tendons making a diagnosis more difficult. It is important to make sure your horse is on a loose lead, as being on a tight lead prevents the horse from moving naturally, and you may restrict the free movement which gives us a clue to the problem. the general assessment for detecting lameness is the same for all breeds of horses - whether you have a Shire horse or a Shetland pony.

Forelegs:-  generally you will be able to tell which leg your horse is lame on by what is generally known as the 'head-bob' As he puts down the leg that is sore, his head will bob up - like he is trying to get away from the pain on that leg. He may also not put that leg down for as long on the ground, or extend the leg as far forward as the other ‘sound leg’, so you will be able to hear the uneven footfall of his stride

Hind legs:-  it is a little trickier to determine if he is lame and on which side. This is why I like to have someone trot him up and back for me as it makes it a bit easier to see. If your horse is lame on a hind leg, he may display a 'hip-hike' motion in his back end. When you watch from behind, one hip will hike or dip more than the other, and when watching from the side, the sore leg may not be brought forward or track-up as far as the other one - again the horse will have an uneven footfall.

Generally speaking,  the most common site of lameness is below the knee, with the hoof being the most common culprit. It is important to feel for swelling or heat all the way up the leg - this will help you to determine where in the leg the horse is sore. You can also determine if your horse is in pain as he will flinch away from pressure on the sore spot. In the hoof, look for cracks or bulges, and odour is also important. Check the sole for foreign objects and pain too. If you are at all concerned after examining your horse, always call your vet or farrier.

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