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After a foot or leg injury, the horse owner, veterinarian and farrier must work together as a team to facilitate the most effective way to trim, shoe and rehabilitate that horse for optimum recovery.
Careful rehabilitation therapy will often speed healing and help ensure that the horse recovers more fully, returning to its former capability as an athlete.
Scott Morrison, the veterinarian who heads the podiatry department at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., says that many times, manipulation of the foot and different types of shoes can be used to help speed recovery, whether you’re dealing with an injury to the foot or farther up the leg.
“A good understanding of the functional anatomy of the lower limb can help enable farriers to put together different shoes,” says Morrison, noting that a special shoe can help take pressure off a certain area, for instance.
Julie Bullock, a veterinary and podiatrist from Mt. Sidney, Va., says that for a deep digital flexor tendon injury, you’d usually want to raise the angle of the foot to take the pull off that tendon.
The ability of a farrier to forge special shoes or modify shoes for a particular purpose is often vital in rehabilitative hoof care following a traumantic injury.
“The farrier might start adding degree (wedge) pads,” says Bullock. “With a suspensory injury or a superficial flexor tendon injury, however, you must be careful not to raise the heel. The farrier has to know this, however.”