Optimize Joint Comfort For Arthritic Horses

Paul Goodness, chief of Farrier Services at Virginia Tech’s Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Va., says there are many therapeutic farrier options that can be employed, as well as different types of shoes that might help if conformation of the hoof is not good.

“We may use bar shoes or pads to create a more mechanically advantageous situation,” he says. “We also have softer materials to use as shoes. There are synthetic shoes and pads available and it may take trial and error to find what works best for that particular horse. We may simply use an asymmetrical shoe with one side of the shoe wider than the other side.”

If the horse is stiff and stumbling, the shoe may need easy breakover to minimize tripping.

“This can be adjusted in many different ways,” Goodness says. “The farrier can help by changing the mechanics of how the lower leg works, making a dramatic difference.”

Todd Allen, a farrier in Vandergrift, Pa., says arthritis may affect different joints in different horses — everything from ringbone to sore hocks.

“Ringbone occurs most often in front limbs and can be very painful if it is articular (in the joint),” he says. “The best thing we can do as farriers is work with the vet and what he or she finds — whether it’s high ringbone or low ringbone — to see what we can do to make the horse more comfortable in its movement. Breakover can be moved back, making it as easy…

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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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