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Caring for horses with bad feet

Here's how to care for common ailments suffered by horses with poor feet.

Here's how to care for common ailments suffered by horses with poor feet.

 

The average racehorse weighs just over 1,000 pounds, and all that body mass is supported by four tiny hooves. This means keeping your horse’s feet healthy is essential for its overall performance. Unfortunately, some horses are genetically prone to hoof issues. This doesn’t mean these animals are down for the count, but they do need a little extra care. Here’s a brief guide to helping equines with bad feet:

Bruised feet

Foot bruises are the most common type of hoof-related lameness. Horses with flat feet or thin soles are more prone to the condition, but even those with the healthiest hooves suffer bruises if introduced to a new environment. Keep this in mind if your animal is used to a grass pasture but will compete on a sand lot.

To prevent bruises, trim your horse’s feet on a regular basis. Your farrier can apply shoes specifically for thin soles if necessary. If you notice a bruise, try packing it with Finish Line’s Easy Pack.

Specialty horseshoes protect equines with thin soles.Specialty horseshoes protect equines with thin soles.

Cracked hooves

The easiest hoof cracks to manage are sand and grass cracks. Sand cracks begin at the coronary band and travel down, while grass cracks run in the opposite direction. These are generally superficial and do not penetrate deep into the hoof wall. Bar cracks, heel cracks and toe cracks are more serious, while quarter cracks are the most difficult to manage.

“Serious cracks require clips, implants or wires and screws.”

If you notice your horse has superficial cracks in its hooves, have your farrier take a look during your next visit, or send them a picture with your smartphone. If the crack is infected, bleeds or causes lameness, seek treatment right away.

If the crack is small and shallow, trimming the hoof so the horse’s weight is evenly distributed will prevent further damage. Book time with your farrier, then wait for the hoof to grow out. Serious cracks, on the other hand, require clips, implants or wires and screws.

Keeping your horse on a set trimming schedule, cleaning the hoof on a daily basis and keeping your barn and pasture free of moisture and debris will prevent most cracks from forming. Additionally, Finish Line’s Horse Shoe promotes proper blood flow to the hoof, ensuring your animal’s feet get the necessary nutrients to grow strong and sturdy.

Thin walls

Excessive moisture is the most common culprit of thin walls, according to TheHorse.com. Too much water weakens the laminae, meaning the hoof can’t handle weight as well as it used to. As a result, the hoof wall chips and cracks. At the same time, some breeds like Thoroughbreds naturally have thinner walls than others.

Address thin walls by keeping your horse in a relatively dry environment and feeding it a nutrient-rich diet. Add equine supplements with omega-3 fatty acids if necessary. Finish Line’s Feet First Coat 2nd is a daily additive designed to support proper hoof health. Total Control includes all the separate ingredients of Feet First.

White line disease

Commonly referred to as seedy toe, white line disease is an infection that occurs when bacteria makes its way to the area where the hoof wall and lamina meet. Deprived of oxygen, the bacteria spread quickly. Aggressive trimming will cure minor cases, but serious infections must be exposed to air to kill the bacteria. In these cases, all of the affected area must be removed by your farrier or veterinarian, and the horse must be kept in a dry area to heal.

Horses with compromised immune systems can experience recurring cases of white line diseases even with successful treatment. According to Equine Wellness Magazine, these animals need a diet that improves their metabolism. Finish Line’s Stretch Run Plus was created to support a healthy metabolic process.