Veterinarians' Roundtable

Q: Can foot problems be identified by the shape and health of the frog?

—Arkansas Farrier

A: What a great question! Although the exact role of the frog remains to be proven, it’s obvious that the frog plays a vital role in the function and health of the palmar/plantar section of the foot.

When I evaluate the solar surface of the foot, I immediately look at two areas: the widest part of the foot and the size, mass and consistency and position of the frog.

Dr. Tracy Turner and others have worked out that the frog width should be 67% of the frog length. If these measurements are not close to the ideal, it indicates that the horse is not using the full physiology of the palmar/plantar section of the foot, generally due to some form of palmar foot pain. Very narrow frogs generally occur in horses with contracted heels.

In horses that have frogs with a large mass, the frog will protrude below the ground surface of the hoof wall. Horses with decreased mass or consistency in their frogs will have the frog recessed between the heels of the hoof wall. A frog with large mass is often associated with low/underrun heels while a frog with very little mass is associated with upright or club feet. The foot with a small or recessed frog is very susceptible to thrush. If either of these conditions is present, attempts should be made to trim the foot or apply appropriate farriery so…

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