Old Horses, New Problems

Aging horses become more susceptible to arthritis, laminitis and other issues that present hoof-care challenges

Pictured Above: An excess or deficiency of vitamin A can result in poor hoof quality and predispose the invasion of microorganisms into the hoof wall, creating a hoof defect pattern in which the outer hoof wall flakes off.Photo:Life Data Labs

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.

Early Warning Signs Of Arthritis

Scott Gravlee, veterinarian and equine nutrition consultant with Life Data Labs, says recognizing arthritis in its early stages is important.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Arthritis and laminitis are…
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Pat tearney

Pat Tearney

Pat Tearney is a long-term newspaper and magazine veteran writer and editor. Before retiring, he served for a number of years on the American Farriers Journal staff and continues to share his writing talents with our readers.

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