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A common scenario is for a new horse to show up on your mat with instructions to “just shoe it.” Very often that horse does not come with a shoeing or soundness history, but does arrive with the assumption from the person paying the bill that there are no foot problems.
It is important to remember that any subsequent foot-related problems may be blamed on the farrier unless these problems are brought to the attention of management before any work is done on the horse.
Part of our job as professional farriers is to recognize and attempt to correct foot pathologies and deformities. Therefore, it is incumbent on the farrier to make a thorough examination of the horse to determine any pre-existing problems. In the event of later soundness issues, it can save you a lot of grief when the finger pointing starts.
First, observe the horse as it comes out of the stall. Often horses will appear sound in the stall, but when taking the first few steps on hard footing will exhibit a shortness of stride followed by a more normal stride. This is a big flashing light that something is not quite right. Turn that horse in small circles to see how it handles its feet and legs.
Next, watch it trot on a straight line on hard and soft surfaces and finally on a circle on a long line in both directions. Finally, remove the shoes and use a hoof tester to…