A case of a warmblood prompted Blake Brown to address a problem he sees all too frequently. Through a consultation, the retired farrier and current Delta Mustad Hoofcare Center clinician came across a horse with a natural pastern angle of 56 degrees that was trimmed to 50 degrees.
"I’m talking about a horse that, when trimmed to its proper angle, wears a No. 5 shoe, but was shod instead in a No. 3 shoe," he says.
"The case that I am presenting is not unusual nor rare. The issues that caused the injury to this horse very easily could have been prevented with proper shoeing."
In August 2011, the gelding went lame and was examined by a veterinarian. The horse tore his right front suspensory ligament 4 cm distal from the origin, and the horse rehabbed for 9 months.
"I think it’s important to understand what the consequences are to this owner and others when something like this happens," he says. "First off, the medical cost is very high. Veterinary examinations and ultrasounds are just the beginning. My consultation fees and therapeutic shoeing put the cost to the owner over $4,000. The trainer has also suffered a loss of income.
"The rehabilitation program averaged 1 hour a day for 9 months of the owner’s time and the emotional factor is huge. The owner paid a lot of money for this horse and planned to compete on it. The horse is further behind than it was a year ago because of the loss of training and muscle strength due to the injury. The owner is now concerned with the future. Is the site of this tear always going to be a weak spot? Will this horse be able to meet its full potential in dressage?
"How do we, as members of this profession, get farriers to understand the severe consequences of improper shoeing? I have been in this profession for 49 years, 28 of those years working with just this kind of situation. Often, when a farrier loses a client, the client does not want to get into a verbal confrontation. So they don’t tell the farrier why they decided to change farriers. The farrier never calls to see why the owner dropped them. Communication is vital, and too often we aren’t good at it."
You can read more detail about this case in the September/October issue of AFJ.