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Managing a horse with mismatched feet can be a challenge for both the veterinarian and farrier. At last winter’s American Association of Equine Practitioners’ convention, a session undertook both the veterinarian and farrier’s role in these cases.
By reviewing what mismatched feet mean and addressing the issue based on principles of farriery, the goal was to help attendees improve their results in management of these cases.
It is important to begin any discussion of mismatched feet by defining it first. This task and the overall discussion of the veterinarian’s role in diagnosing this was handled by equine veterinarian Stephen O’Grady of Keswick, Va.
“This could be defined as forefeet conformation that has a high or upright hoof angle on one foot and a low hoof capsule angle on the contralateral foot,” explains the Hall Of Fame veterinarian.
Mismatched feet can affect both soundness and movement.
“You can see this with a dressage horse,” he says. “The horse may look fine to you, but the rider may come back and say, ‘This horse isn’t moving right.’ You better pay attention to the experienced rider.”
Appropriate farriery is effective, but may not be inherently obvious. “Sometimes we are creatures of habit,” explains the farrier-veterinarian. “We do things a certain way and horses tend to be done the same way. This type of foot conformation needs to be approached on an individual basis.”
Before taking action, the footcare practitioner must understand the horse’s conformation and mechanical…