Hoof-Care Management Needs to Change

Heightened toll of lamenesses point to inadequate stewardship of horses, Washington farrier says

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a report in April 2000 on the frequency and effect of equine lameness. The data for the report was collated over a 2-year (1997-1999) period, monitored and in collaboration with more than 28 states.1

The results and observations of that study make for disturbing reading and should have acted as a “wake up” call. Twenty years on, to the contrary, horses are suffering, expectations shattered, and valuable resources wasted. Highlighted below are the results of that study.

  • $678 million a year was spent on lameness and laminitis in U.S. horses from 1998-1999. Accounting for inflation in today’s figures, $678 million is worth $1,195,652,798 in 2023, according to
  • 20% of U.S. horses is affected.
  • 2.5% fatality rate.
  • $432 in veterinary fees per lameness.
  • 110 days per year per horse loss of use.
  • Beyond the direct costs of disease, there are costs associated with losing the use of affected horses during treatment and recuperation. It is important to estimate these costs in terms of revenue lost by owners during these periods.1
  • It is also important to remember that the above stats are only those that have been reported. It can safely be presumed many thousands more go unreported.

Examining the results of this study suggest that we re-examine the way we manage our horses.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Federal government study of lamenesses and laminitis states costs total nearly $700 million that lead to increased suffering of horses and valuable resources wasted.
  • The…
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Ian Davies, DipWCF

A native of Great Britain, Ian Davies seeks new ways of improving equine athletic performance and hoof care in his private farrier practice in Washington state, as well as a consultant with the University of California, Davis Center for Equine Health.

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