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Real estate agents fondly recite their mantra, “location, location, location,” when explaining to clients that where a house sits is the most important factor in its value.
When determining the value of foot X-rays, it’s not much different. It’s all about position, position, position for veterinarian Laura Pylman of Mid-Michigan Equine Services in Laingsburg, Mich.
“I’ve seen some X-rays that are just completely worthless,” she told attendees in January at the 46th annual Michigan Horseshoers Association Clinic and Contest in East Lansing, Mich. “It doesn’t take a whole lot to be off to give you the completely wrong impression of what’s going on with the foot.
“I realize that most farriers aren’t taking them, but there are ways to recognize when an X-ray isn’t really a legitimate picture.”
Pylman says there are three specific keys to a valuable X-ray — equal weight bearing on either the front or hind feet, proper alignment of the machine and the exposure.
“The single most important thing for foot X-rays is the horse better be on blocks,” she says. “You can’t get good X-rays if the horse is standing on the ground.”
When a horse is not standing on blocks, the machine’s X-ray beams will not be pointing at the foot. Rather, the pastern will be the focus, which results in an image that doesn’t include the bottom of the foot.
“It’s impossible to get the X-ray machine low enough to actually shoot through the coffin bone without blocks,” Pylman says. “You’ll…