It’s been said before that “no hoof, no horse” and as simple as that may sound, it holds a lot of truth to it. The hooves of the horse are the foundation for everything you do together, so it is important to keep them in the best shape possible. Granted, that may be easier said than done and even some of the healthiest horses tend to suffer from common hoof problems. It’s important, however, to be aware of these problems and know what steps to take to remedy the situation as best as possible. Here are the top 5 hoof problems that horses encounter and how you can fix these problems.
This is a common infection that can be found on the frog of the hoof. Most of the time it is due to wet and muddy conditions. Thrush causes lameness and tends to invade sensitive tissue. It can be spotted in two ways: sight and smell. It has a pretty noticeable foul smell as well as a black discharge that you will see around the frog. Making sure that your barn and stalls are clean and dry can help prevent thrush. There are also many products available to treat this infection. You also will want to work closely with your veterinarian to treat it and prevent it from returning.
White Line Disease
White Line Disease is another common problem with horse hooves, and it is typically caused by mud and rainy conditions. This is a fungal infection that typically occurs when the inner hoof wall separates. This then creates a hole or a crack in the sole allowing the bacteria to invade through the crevice and thus begin eating away at the foot. White Line Disease can lead to structural unsoundness as well as lameness. To treat White Line Disease, you will want to have a trained farrier or veterinarian trim the infected hoof to expose the bacteria to oxygen. Afterwards, be sure to clean the hoof thoroughly.
Hoof Abscess is another infection that occurs inside the hoof. This is another example of hoof problems that are caused by wet conditions as bacteria tends to thrive in these environments. Signs to look out for with abscess include limping as well signs of lameness. You might also notice swelling on the horse’s leg that has the infection. When it comes to heavier-footed horses, you will find they are more susceptible to abscesses because their hooves tend to be closer to the ground and are irritated more often. Every case of abscess is unique to every horse but typically to treat it, most vets will look to drain it through the sole of the roof. Once it has been drained, you should use a poultice-pad bandage to protect the foot until it has fully recovered.
Laminitis is the inflammation of sensitive lamina. With this, you will also notice something called Founder. This occurs when the coffin bone rotates downward inside the hoof capsule and/or when the coffin bone sinks downward. Typical signs of laminitis include lameness, reluctance to bear weight along with warm feet with a strong pulse. Some treatments that can be effective are regular shoeing or trimming, maintaining short toes, using heel wedges, and frog and sole support. Keep in mind, however, that acute laminitis is a medical emergency so you will want to work closely with your vet or farrier.
Navicular Syndrome is a term that is used to describe any kind of caudal/heel pain in the hoof. Some of the causes of navicular syndrome can be hereditary predisposition usually with Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds, faulty conformation, hoof imbalance, and exercise on hard surfaces. If your house does have navicular syndrome, you can expect to notice lameness. This term is widely used so due to that, treatments tend to vary. It is important to work with your vet and farrier to understand the true root of the problem and map out next steps. Other forms of treatment include shoeing, elevating the heels and good break over, and pads.