Use Caution When Using Radiographs for Farriery

Small mistakes can lead to big inaccuracies when capturing images

Digital radiographs have produced dramatic changes in how farriers evaluate and scrutinize our ability to trim horses’ feet. Yet, they are not without their drawbacks.

Farrier Takeaways

  • A radiograph represents a brief point in time for a horse. A number of factors that are not evident in the radiograph can influence what is seen and can paint an inaccurate representation.
  • Standing a horse on blocks is necessary to capture a quality image; however, many horses don’t perform or spend the majority of their day on hard surfaces. Standing a horse on 1½ to 2 inches of foam while radiographs are taken can offer a more accurate representation for its limb alignment.
  • Blocking a horse on the side that it’s landing first might offer a more accurate means of identifying a particular lameness.

Trimming and shoeing horses before digital radiographs had definite disadvantages. You had to either go to the vet clinic or they’d leave a copy with the owner and you’d get to see it a week or 2 later. You never knew where it really was in your shoeing cycle.

It wasn’t until digital radiographs came out that we started getting radiographs with all kinds of letters, angles, arrows and points (Figure 1 above). They helped us a lot because they’re clear, but I’m going to get into how we have to be cautious with radiographs.


Gain more insight from Ken Mankel by:

  • Watching his Michigan Horseshoers Association presentation.
  • Listening to an American Farriers Journal Podcast…
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Doug russo 0317

Doug Russo

Doug Russo is the resident farrier at the Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

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