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Deciphering Gait Irregularities

Not all faults are foot related, but farriers will often be the first people asked to do something about them.

Gait faults are not always due to issues in the leg, but farriers will often be the first people to be asked about them by trainers and horse owners.

Farriers can greatly enhance their value to their clients by learning to read shoe wear and how to differentiate between gait faults that are due to conformation defects, and those that might be related to a lameness issue.

Sometimes a horse may be a little lame or slightly off in his gait, or sore, especially after being ridden. The rider wonders whether it’s a structural lameness — pain caused by a problem in a foot or leg — or due to saddle fit, rider balance or other factors. This can often be a difficult issue to figure out — and the first person likely to be asked about it is the farrier.

Paul Goodness, the senior member of Forging Ahead, a group-farriery practice based in Round Hill, Va., says horse owners will often ask a farrier to take a look at the horse to see if there is a foot issue.

“The horse may not seem quite right or may be a little off in his usual performance, or may even be a little lame, and the horseman wants the farrier to help sort through this,” says Goodness.

What To Look For

Goodness says it’s important to stick to farriery and pass the case on to a veterinarian when that is appropriate, but adds there are certain things that a farrier…

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Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas is a freelance writer based in Salmon, Idaho. She has been writing books and articles for nearly 50 years.

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