General Horse Foot Care
"Farrier-Friendly" series By
Bryan S. Farcus, BS, CF
saying "No Foot, No Horse" is one horse people like to recite all the
time. What constitutes a healthy foot? As equine experts, you will have to be
familiar with and responsible for the "Life-Line" of your horse
A Healthy Foot:
Includes hard, solid soles and soft, flexible
frog bands with a triangular center. The outer hoof wall should be at least two
times greater than the width of the white line, and the white line should bond
with no deep cracks between the connecting sole.
- A "Frog-eating" bacteria called
Thrush can cause bleeding, soreness, or even death if not attended to.
- Weak cracking of outside wall due to extremely
wet or dry conditions. Horses have a great capacity to adapt to environmental
changes. However, it must be gradual. Sometimes horses need a little help.
- Sole bruising often results from constant,
abusive use of horses on rocky uneven surfaces. If soles are tender, find out
whether the cause is heredity (flat-soled) or environmental (too wet, which
softens soles or too rough and rocky).
- Limb interference or hitting may result from
unbalanced riding, lack of shoeing and trimming, and / or fatigue of horse.
- Thrush is totally treated by practicing good
"hoof hygiene." A pick a day will be a very small price to pay.
Advance cases of thrush are life threatening to your horse.
- Weak, "brittle" foot cracking can be
helped by adding a water-based hoof dressing. Weak, "soft" feet can
be improved by using hoof hardening conditioners. Some cases may benefit from
on oil-based hoof dressing that acts as a repellent of water.
- Sole bruising is a remedy for "Father
Time." Rest is its only cure. Hoof padding under shoes is not a cure, but
a prevention. Pads provide protection against potential bruising. Pads may have
extreme negative effects if put on an existing bruised horse.
- Interfering limbs can be helped with improved
riding skill, conditioning of horse, and routine farrier work. Protective boots
are recommended during these times of need.
When to Call A Farrier:
Generally, most horses, whether shod or not,
should have the farrier call on them routinely. Most farriers recommend
anywhere from 6-8 weeks varying among each horse each season. Most healthy
horses can be barefoot if they are in a controlled environment. Some may need
shoes for any of these reasons:
- weak hooves (protection)
- weak hoof / pastern angles (support)
- the job of the horse (performance).
A good farrier should also consider
- what science wants (for soundness)
- what the rider wants (for performance)
- what the horse wants (for a lifetime of humane
horseshoeing and handling in general).
Finally, the farrier you choose should have a
professional level of National Certification (i.e. AFA, BWFA, GPF). This choice
can be hard. I suggest you listen to the horses of your friends and not solely
on comments from your "horse-friends." A consistently sound horse is
a Farriers walking billboard.
||© 2000 Bryan
Farcus. All rights reserved.
Bryan Farcus, certified farrier and head of the
Farrier Science at Meredith Manor International Equestrian Centre, has been
combining the skills of horseshoeing, teaching and riding for the past ten
years. He has also achieved a BS in Business Management. Bryan is the creator
of "Farrier-Friendly" articles and products aimed at improving
the general understanding of horseshoeing through horsemanship. For a complete
collection of "Farrier-Friendly" articles