Horse Jumping

Understanding Lameness Causes

A farrier says the ability to analyze the causes of lameness sets a farrier apart — and also protects him


CONFORMATION AND THE JOB. Boris Riaschenko says that some horses do not have the right conformation for certain types of work.

Sometimes farriers must shoe horses with very different front hooves or different hinds. This breach of natural symmetry is provoked by a specific cause. A farrier should be able to determine what these causes are by examining the hooves. If he can’t, he may find himself being blamed for causing any lameness that occurs after shoeing.

I want to give an example from my experience. A 7-year-old Trakehner stallion was shod with sport shoes and took part in an “Easy Class” jumping competition, which he finished successfully. Three weeks later, the same horse took part in another jumping competition with higher obstacles.

During training jumps, the horse began to limp on one of the front legs. The farrier was called in. Examination allowed the cause of the lameness to be found. The front feet of the stallion had different shapes and sizes. The right was a club foot and not large, but the left foot was normal. We removed the shoes.

Eliminating The Cause

There are different causes for a club foot. There may be a fault in the conformation of the legs, or inflammation of the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT). Trimming that cuts the toe but leaves the heel too high may be a cause. Foals whose hooves aren’t trimmed or maintained properly and who are not allowed enough exercise may develop the condition.

We eliminated other…

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