Thursday, August 30, 2007

Midnight, Farrier Educational

Midnight is a 20 year old quarter horse mare. Her lifetime has been filled with teaching small children how to ride, helping other older children to gain confidence in their riding abilities and in her most recent years, working poles, and at a more intense level of exercise. Thinking her foundered to the point of being unable to jump, run barrels and work at a more intense level, Midnight’s owners decided to find her a permanent home elsewhere that she would be safe and in good hands.

Sanctuary workers picked midnight up on Tuesday, the 21st of August from her previous home. Darrin Hill, farrier immediately set to work on Midnight’s hooves. We were all very anxious to see if what Midnight had was actually founder or yet another mis-diagnosis due to poor farrier work. Well all Darrin had to do was pick up the hoof and examine. Bingo! Yet another horse had fallen culprit to lameness due to a botched farrier job.

Sole has not been knifed down, causing the horse pain . When the sole of the horses hoof is not knifed down below the hoof wall each trimming/shoeing, the pressure from each step is on the sole, a tender area for the horse, causing lameness issues.

From this view, you can see the sole of the hoof is extended below the hoof wall, improper trimming and shoeing practices.

Proper Trimming Techniques

Step 1: Cleaning Hoof
Knife out the Sole as pictured
Trim the Frog

By knifing the sole and trimming the frog, pressure is kept on the hard laminate of the hoof wall, protecting the softer tissue areas of the hoof such as the sole. If a horse’s hooves are too long, there is no pressure on the frog, the blood is not circulated from the hooves back to the horse’s heart, causing lack of proper circulation.

Step 2: Nipping off excess growth of hoof wall.

This aids in proper hoof alignment, a properly trimmed hoof, will allow for cleaner movement rather than issues with toe-in, toe-out, over reaching, and more.

During this step, most farriers will achieve proper hoof angle and balance.

Final Step: Filing or rasping the hoof.

Filing the hoof helps to level the surface and keeps it from chipping.

We have come in behind some farriers who have literally filed the horse’s hoof at a crooked angle, causing the horse to stand leaning either to the right or left depending on whether that farrier only filed to the right or the left in one direction. You will notice in the photos below, Darrin files both with the left and right hand, making for a level surface.

Comparing the properly trimmed hoof to improperly trimmed/shod.