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Hoof Management In Acute And Chronic Laminitis

Georgia farrier-turned-veterinarian says there’s no one treatment that will work every time


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS. Robert Hunt, an equine veterinarian who practices in Lexington, Ky., listens to a question during his presentation on treating laminitis presented by the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Because of the biomechanical forces imposed on the digits of horses with laminitis, there is no uniformly successful method of foot management and shoeing.

The principles of trimming or shoeing horses with laminitis include providing uniform support and stability to counteract rotation or distal displacement of the distal phalanx. Also important is removing necrotic or infected material to allow regrowth of healthy horn, while at the same time trying to reduce pressure on exposed or diseased tissue.

Trimming The Feet

If the conformation of the foot is adequate, the horse may be better off with no shoes. The feet should be trimmed to a suitable conformation and may be supported with thick, soft bandages or frog supports. The horse should be placed on a thick bedding of straw, wood shavings or shredded rubber placed over a sand or peat moss base. If a portion of the foot is especially compromised (such as the dorsal wall or toe region), other portions of the foot (heel, quarters and frog) should be used to engage the load.

Although the proximal-palmar tension of the deep digital flexor tendon has been incriminated as the main detrimental biomechanical force during laminitis that contributes to rotation of the distal phalanx, the greatest detrimental biomechanical force is the vertical load of the horse’s…

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