Veterinarian's Roundtable

Q: Because farriers will see a horse more often than equine veterinarians, they often are the first to see health or lameness concerns. Are there “red flags” or symptoms a farrier might see that indicate the owner should call in a vet?

A: There are several red flags that farriers should watch for:

  1. Any foreign body penetrating into the sole or frog, such as screws or nails.
  2. Laminitis of any type.
  3. Abnormal hoof growth rings, which suggest possible nutritional issues or subclinical laminitis.
  4. Horses that really struggle to hold up their hind legs while trimming/shoeing. Many of these have hock and stifle issues.
  5. Older horses showing marked signs of Cushing’s disease. These include a long and shaggy hair coat in warm weather, trouble walking over hard ground and weight loss.
  6. Extremely overweight horses or horses with past laminitis issues via insulin resistance that flinch at routine trims or are overly sensitive after routine trims/shoeings.
  7. Horses with shivers (periodic, involuntary spasms of the muscles in the pelvic region, pelvic limbs and tail) with hind legs moving so it’s dangerous to the farrier. Sedation by a veterinarian may be required.
  8. Unruly small ponies or miniature donkeys that need sedation to make a trim easier and safer. Too often the need to slow these animals down is not done, so owners wonder why the farrier won’t trim them anymore. Farriers should let owners know that a vet should sedate the animal 15 minutes before the farrier’s arrival.
  9. Horses that are very stiff on…
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