What To Watch For When Reading Radiographs

Farriers can help their business, and the horse, by utilizing X-rays

To completely understand the ins and outs of a radiograph, you’d have to spend the better part of the next 4 years at a reputable college. But, as a farrier, you can use radiographs to your advantage if you know the basics of what to look for on the X-ray.

Radiology of the equine hoof is used to confirm various disease processes such as laminitis, third phalanx fractures, osteoarthritis (ring bone), navicular disease and extensive hoof-wall separations. 

You can also see the additional information that can be gained from a radiograph taken of a distorted hoof capsule. Look for the orientation of P3 within the hoof capsule, the hoof and pastern axis. Also check how much and where the foot should be trimmed for better alignment and where the shoe should be placed under the limb for the best mechanical advantage. The extent of a hoof-wall separation associated with white line disease can also be observed.    

Keep in mind that the two most useful radiographic views for the farrier are the lateral view (from the side) and the dorsopalmar/planter view (from the front to the back). 

Getting Started

Working with an equine veterinarian who has an interest in equine podiatry is the easiest method to gain a clear understanding of foot radiographs. It would be rare to find an equine veterinarian who would not spend the required amount of time with a farrier in order to accomplish this basic understanding. It also improves the vet-farrier relationship and helps to promote…

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Stephen O’Grady

Dr. Steve O’Grady is a veterinarian and a farrier. He operates Virginia Therapeutic Farriery in Keswick, Va., which is a referral practice devoted to equine podiatry and therapeutic farriery You can read informative papers by him at Equipodiatry.com. He is a member of the International Equine Veterinarians Hall Of Fame and the American Farriers Journal Editorial Advisory Board.

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