Poynton Farriery Clinic

             COMPLETE EQUINE FOOT CARE

Poynton Farriery Clinic

             COMPLETE EQUINE FOOT CARE

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Farriery for the veteran horse

By ANDREW POYNTON FWCF

MANY horses are living longer

despite debilitating problems such as

laminitis, they are still being ridden

and in work into their twenties.

Some top level event horses have

even competed successfully into their

late teens.

 

Signs of ageing:

As horses age so their physique

gradually changes.

Muscle suppleness becomes

diminished, it takes longer to warm

up and loosen.

Arthritis may affect some joints,

collateral ligaments tighten, the

suspensory apparatus of the limbs -

the suspensory ligament and the

flexor tendons, have often suffered

injury and this together with reduced

muscle from natural wastage means

there is less to support the horse and

it is more prone to ‘breaking down’.

An old horse may, for example, stand

with the fore limbs tucked under,

over at the knee and the hoof

pastern axis alignment broken

forward, the pastern at a low angle

and the fetlock sitting low – obvious

signs of suspensory demise.

This article first appeared in Horse Health Magazine, December 2009/ January 2010

www.horsehealthmagazine.co.uk

Windgalls also provide evidence of distension of the joint capsule and tendon sheath.

Alternatively there may be a severely broken back hoof pastern axis (HPA), little angle at the fetlock and a virtually upright pastern.

Horses with this stance usually are experiencing pain in the heels which are low and often under-run, most likely resulting in a short stride liable to stumbling.

The hind limbs are affected more in the hocks; spavins seen as hard swelling on the inside base of the hock, and the toes will be squared off from dragging due to lack of

flexion.

When the limb is flexed the horse is reluctant to allow the limb to be extended to the rear, preferring to hold it up tight under the abdomen. Shoe wear apart from the squared toe is heavy on the outside branch.

 

Realistic expectations:

If this horse has not already come to the end of his working life, starting with the front limbs, shoes with a shortened breakover would be appropriate whether a dub toed

shoe or ground rolled, there are a number of brand named shoes that achieve this end.

They reduce the effect in taking a stride and reduce the likelihood of stumbling.

The broken back HPA upright pastern would benefit from a graduated shoe, thinner at the toe rather than raising the heel height.

The shoe would best be a bar shoe, a heart bar for maximum surface area and heel support – this provides elevation for the foot on soft surfaces.

It relieves the heels of so much loading, so a square/dubbed toe graduated heart bar shoe meets the requirement.

Some farriers will favour filling the back half of the foot with some form of elastomer or silicon filler to achieve the same end, or in conjunction with a regular heart bar shoe.

These synthetic and plastic materials can be used effectively to create cushioning and enhance the area of the foot. A flexible plastic heart bar can again often achieve surprisingly good results.

The limb with a low fetlock would not benefit from any form of raising the heel, but be shod similarly with a flat heart bar shoe fitted with fullness in the heel quarters and right

to the bulbs of the heels – definitely not short.

Studs are not advised, but if the horse is prone to slipping on the road then to avoid falling, a pair of tungsten pins or nails can be fitted in the back half of the shoes, one in

each side; they stand proud by about 2mm or 1/8” and give traction, but increase the jarring on the foot/limb.

Addressing the hind limbs – the traditional shoe in the UK for spavin has a set toe, a strong turned up toe set into the toe of the hoof with wedged up heels; this shoe is only

really effective on a hard surface.

As many horses now spend much time on arenas, shoeing appropriate to this type of surface seems sensible.

I prefer and find effective a broad webbed shoe, quarter clipped set well under the toe, with a lateral extension. This shoe wears well and gives more stability to the limb.

It again must not be fitted short, but with some extra length providing floatation to the back of the foot, it will not sink into the surface so much, therefore relieving the hock of

excessive strain.

The horses need a sympathetic and patient farrier; they object to being pulled around.

Intolerance to uneven ground could indicate arthritic joints, ringbone, medio lateral imbalance or sidebone to mention just some possibilities.

The experienced farrier in addition to working with the vet, utilising any radiographic or other evidence, will notice the horse’s stance, watch the horse move, will notice any

unevenness of footfall, tripping, lack of flexion and lameness if present.

The wear of the hoof or shoe if shod is invaluable evidence in determining peculiarities of the gait of the horse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shock absorbing heartbar with shortened breakover

Shock absorbing heartbar with

shortened breakover

The shape and quality of feet will be

noted, and their relationship to the

horse’s conformation.

Once aware of the evidence an

appropriate treatment can be

formulated.

The type of shoe and fit will aim to

encourage an as fluent as possible

stride, level foot fall, or, if not

possible, a roll into landing and a

central base of support below the

limb, when moving through the

weight-bearing phase of the

stride.

So, easing the stride and cushioning

the impact sums up much of what

can be done.

Other than wear and tear on the

veteran horse’s feet, the metabolic

changes in some horses sadly induce

laminitis which is a subject on its

own.

Provided the above points are

routinely addressed, both the horse

and farrier should grow old

gracefully together.

It is up to the owner to provide a

suitable environment in which the

horse can thrive and have realistic

expectations of both the horse and

farrier.

I know a number of horses in their thirties, but still enjoying quality of life, even one or two ponies over forty, one still a leading rein pony.

Base narrow, weak hocks
Hind limb ample heel support

Base narrow, weak hocks

Hind limb ample heel support

The areas on which to concentrate to enable the older horse to remain active in relative soundness are:

 

 

 

 

 

We shoe for the limbs’ sake as much as the feet.

Moderate lateral extension

Moderate lateral extension