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Strategies for Troubleshooting Soft Tissue Injuries in the Western Performance Horse

Thorough lameness evaluations and thoughtful shoeing prescriptions play a key role in helping horses recover from soft tissue injuries

Farrier Takeaways

  • With its varied and demanding career, the Western performance horse is susceptible to a variety of soft tissue injuries. A farrier’s shoeing prescription plays a major role in the treatment and recovery of these animals.
  • In soft tissue injuries of the distal limb, closely adjacent structures to the primary injured ligament or tendon may also be affected. Diagnostics, including MRI, ultrasound, radiography, or bone scans, can assist in identifying all the structures affected by an injury.
  • As an animal progresses from injury to recovery, farriers should change their shoeing prescriptions gradually over time in order to transition the horse from the most therapeutic shoes to normal shoes. No prescription is permanent, and farriers should adjust and redirect at each shoeing.

From platelet-rich plasma to tendon splitting and beyond, there is a plethora of effective therapies available for veterinarians to treat soft tissue injuries in horses. These therapies work to speed healing in the soft tissues by addressing inflammation, increasing blood flow and more — but there is another aspect of care that assists with healing. The way a horse is trimmed and shod plays a major role in how an injury heals. For example, farriers can change the balance of a hoof, adjust loading and landing patterns, and implement special shoes or other modalities to ease the pressures on torn or weakened tendons and ligaments.

All horses in competition and work are prone to soft tissue injuries, especially if they engage in demanding and repetitious work on varied…

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Allison rehnborg

Allison Armstrong Rehnborg

Allison Armstrong Rehnborg is a free­lance writer and pho­tog­­ra­pher and has been pub­lished by several equine titles.

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