One-third of New Zealand sport horse owners had a farrier perform therapeutic work during the previous year, according to a study published in the November 2016 issue of the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.

The Massey University-based study aimed to gather preliminary data about farriery, hoof-care, and injuries to show jumping and dressage horses in New Zealand. 

Researchers found that 26 of the 96 horses in the study — more than a quarter — were sidelined from training for 7 or more days as a result of a veterinarian-diagnosed lameness. The average horse experienced 26 days off, with the maximum being 93 days.

Owners had been working with their farrier on hoof-related problems in 33% of the cases, while 14 of the 30 cases involved a veterinarian. Another six cases involved an allied health practitioner.

Among the findings:

• Eighteen percent of the horses had uneven feet. However, they were able to continue training. Only 5% received therapeutic or corrective shoeing to address the problem.

• More dressage horses were associated with uneven feet than show jumpers.

• A little more than 33% of the horses had hoof rings.

The lack of shoe variation was surprising, according to the researchers.

“This trend may reflect the traditional nature of equestrian sport,” they wrote, “and that different types of shoes are not used unless there is a perceived problem.”

Dijkstra Annette M., Sinnige Tjarda C., Rogers Chris W., Gee Erica K., Bolwell Charlotte. Preliminary examination of farriery and hoof care practices and owner-reported injuries in sport horses in New Zealand. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, Volume 46, 82-88.

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