Trim Seen As Key In Treating Stumbling, Other Conditions

Montana farrier and vet takes porportional approach to horse’s feet

Horses stumble for many reasons; reasons as as simple as being overdue for a trimming and as serious as having suffered a brain injury. That’s why Tia Nelson, a farrier and equine veterinarian in Helena, Mont., believes that in most instances of chronic stumbling, a farrier should call in a veterinarian to examine the horse.

“The first thing I do is make sure there is no neurological basis for the stumbling,” she says. “I make sure the horse is not ill and does not have West Nile virus, encephalitis, EPM or some sort of spinal trauma or other issues that would make him uncoordinated.”

If the horse seems healthy, Nelson proceeds with a thorough lameness exam.

“I have a hard time buying the idea that a horse stumbles because he’s lazy or not paying attention. Most horses don’t like to stumble,” she says. She believes stumbling is usually a sign of something wrong with the foot or the trimming and shoeing.

“It is not at all uncommon for a horse to function reasonably well with a lameness because he’s tough or has a lot of heart,” she says. “As soon as you address the lameness, the stumbling stops. It’s like having a rock in your shoe; you aren’t able to move as well as you would without it.”

Stumbling As  A Warning Sign

Nelson believes stumbling can also be the first sign of some other problem.

“Typically, the horses I see that are stumblers have heel soreness that is often…

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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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