A recent study in England found that farriers can provide valuable health information to horse owners in addition to hoof care, according to Kentucky Equine Research.
Because farriers interact with a horse frequently, they can notice shifts in body weight that can be crucial to detecting early signs of laminitis. Farriers working alongside veterinarians and horse owners potentially could be crucial in preventing laminitis.
“The researchers found that many horse owners acknowledge an inability to accurately assess their horse’s body condition,” says Kathleen Crandell, a nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research.
A different study found that out of 700 horse owners in New Jersey, 45% of them did not have a nutritional plan or seek advice about their horse’s health.
An online survey in the U.K also found that veterinarians and farriers had the most information about a horse’s health, not the owner.
Many farriers are knowledgeable about different equine issues besides hoof care and are happy to share their health care advice with clients. A Dutch study confirmed this and found that 70% of horse owners there talked to their farriers about health issues unrelated to hoof care.
A farrier cannot replace a veterinarian, but working as a team with vets and horse owners can provide for a well-rounded view of the horse's health, and may allow for health issues, such as laminitis, to be prevented before they become a problem.