Veteran farrier and founder of the Crawford, Neb., Butler Professional Farrier School, Dr. Doug Butler is credited with saying, “Hoof quality may relate more to the hoof’s ability to regulate moisture content than anything else.” Although Lafayette, Ind., farrier Danvers Child jokes that he and Butler, both members of the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame, sometimes have disagreements, they see eye-to-eye on this point; the key topic of client discussion should center around regulating the moisture content in hooves.
One Friday a month, 30 farriers in western Pennsylvania gather at Allegheny Equine Practice. At least one, often two, lame horses are awaiting them. A veterinarian performs a lameness exam and explains the steps involved. The horses are blocked and radiographs are taken.
Five identical horses awaited Texas-based farrier Virgil Conde at a former client’s farm. Each was a clone of an elite Arabian halter horse. It wasn’t quite like seeing double since their white markings varied. Some had stockings, others didn’t. One had a blaze; another had no white on the face. Even the hoof pigmentation was different with some having white feet and others dark.
It’s not uncommon for farriers to feel pressure from clients who ask for a shoe style or trimming method because the people winning in their discipline “do it that way.” Suddenly, it becomes the “go-to” preference and influences availability of supply.
Jimmy Petty had the reputation of being able to shoe any horse brought to him. He shod 7 days a week, for 12-14 hours a day and was proud of the status — until he got hurt. In 1997, a Quarter Horse mare flipped over on him, crushing his lower lumbar.
Horses that are nervous, lame or irritable aren’t the most pleasant to trim or shoe — and they can be downright dangerous. Sedation is commonly used in these types of horses so that a farrier and equine veterinarian can work safely. In fact, 90% of farriers say they shoe sedated horses, according to a recent American Farriers Journal poll.
Thin-soled horses can be a challenge. Thin soles chronically plague some horses, likely an inherited trait, while others can experience an acute case as the result of the environment, a recent trimming or as a side effect of another foot pathology, such as laminitis.
Less than 2 decades ago, it was thought that all laminitis cases were the same regardless of the cause. Research since has proven that there are key differences in the mechanisms that lead to laminitis in different situations and that there are basically three major forms…
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