Equine Hoof Problems

Let's take a look at equine hoof problems. Our subject (or patient is Carmelo, a sweet Paso Fino horse with a limp.

Carmelo's owner rode him out on trail and as he was coming back he noticed a hoof problem. The horse was lame.

Carmelo stayed in his paddock for 3 days without being ridden to give the leg a chance to heal. After the 3d day, there was no change so the veterinarian was called.

I don't know if most equine hoof problems go away on their =own. But the saying "No Hoof No Horse" is a truth that needs to be considered. I always call the vet when I see an equine hoof problem.

Carmelo's Owner Decided to Call the Vet instead of the Blacksmith.

Some people rely on their farrier when they see a problem with hooves. The farrier charges less than a vet for his visit and the farrier (if he is a good one) knows horse hooves inside and out.

Calling the Horse Vet. is Expensive but Neccessary

The Veterinarian arrives with his assistant. Unpacks his instruments, but first had the assistant jog with the horse to see where the problem lies.

It is Carmelo's front left leg that is in pain

The Doctor cuts away at the sole of the hoof and evens it out. Carmelo is due for a farrier visit which is every six weeks. Then the veterinarian checks to see if there are signs of an abscess.

With a special instrument, he pinches the walls of the hoof to see if and where an abscess is located.

He concludes that there is no abscess.

The next step is to see exactly where the pain is.

Because a horse cannot tell us where it hurts, the vet. must use another technique to find the affected area.

He gives the horse a shot to anesthetize the left side of the hoof. and has the assistant take the horse for another jog.

The reason for using an anesthetic the hoof is to check if the hoof is truly where the problem lies. If it does then the horse would stop limping. By stopping the pain with a shot of anesthetic, the horse does not need to limp.

But Carmelo is still limping

The Veterinarian then freezes (anesthetizes) the other side of the hoof as the next step to try to access where the horse is hurting.

Once again the assistant takes the horse for a jog.

He is still limping so the conclusion is that it is not the hoof that is the problem.

Horse x-ray

The veterinarian has a mobile x-ray machine for horses. Unlike most people, a horse is harder to transport to the hospital for x-rays.

After taking x-rays of every angle of the leg, Carmelo is given stall rest until the anesthetic wears off (about an hour)

He stays in his stall with a flake of hay to keep him company.

Carmelo hates being alone but he has no choice. In one hour he will join his horse buddies.

The Diagnosis

The horse hoof problem turned out to be a sprained fetlock even though there was no tell-tale swelling.

It is important never to assume anything with a horse.

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