Horse owners should plan ahead for summer hoof problems
Published 6:45 pm Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Veterinarians often tell horse owners to soak their horses’ feat in warm water to heal a variety of hoof problems. The warm water softens the hoof walls allowing for better application of medications. However, too much exposure to water can be a bad thing, according to Polk County farrier Mick Doyle.
Horses that are turned out during the warm summer evenings tend to over bathe their feet in water. Doyle, who shoes horses on a daily basis, sees the effects of over-soaked hooves all too often.
“We see hooves that have fungal infections, cracks and loose shoes, often due to standing in warm wet pastures all night long,” he said.
The constant softening of the entire hoof structure lowers the horses’ resistance to disease and infection, Doyle said. White line disease, thrush and laminitis are just a few conditions that cause intense pain to a horse and can cut their lives short.
Doyle says as the hoof wall softens, and cracks appear, moisture will penetrate deep into the body of the foot. The moist environment becomes very suitable for germs and bacteria to grow. White line disease occurs when the actual hoof wall becomes disrupted and begins to tear away from the sole. Thrush is another painful condition that occurs when bacteria attacks an area of the horses’ hoof known as the frog. The frog is a soft tissue area that serves as a shock absorber for the horse. When this area becomes compromised, the horse will experience misery with every step.
Horses, unlike other animals, stand on their feet constantly, carrying the full weight of their massive bodies over water, grass, mud and manure. Horses also stomp their hooves frequently to repel bugs and other offenders. This constant movement, Doyle said, coupled with pressure and jarring can loosen shoes, causing further trauma to their already weakened hooves.