As horses age, they present new challenges to horse owners, as well as to farriers.
Because farriers are usually the equine professionals who see horses and owners most regularly, they are frequently the first person a horse owner goes to for advice when senior horses begin to have new issues.
That can put farriers in an uncomfortable position when those issues involve things such as arthritis and laminitis. While it’s important for a hoof-care professional to be able to offer clients sound advice regarding a horse’s overall health, they also need to be careful about overstepping their bounds and diagnosing conditions or suggesting treatments for conditions that fall outside their area.
Older horses become more susceptible to arthritis and may undergo metabolic changes that predispose them to laminitis. Laminitis, of course, directly involves the hooves. Arthritis can affect many areas of the horse’s body, but it’s frequently a problem in the lower limbs and affects how a horse moves. This makes it natural for horse owners to ask their farriers or hoof-care providers for advice.
Scott Gravlee, veterinarian and equine nutrition consultant with Life Data Labs, says recognizing arthritis in its early stages is important.