She paddles in front or has a sore back? You've been told that it's just the way she is. Well look again... at her feet. The following excerpts are from a soon-to-be-published book, "The Sound Hoof: Optimum Horse Health from the Ground Up." This book will help any horseowner, trainer or rider let their horses reach their true potential!
This book will help any horseowner, trainer or rider let their horses reach their true potential! Horses who trip, land toe first, take short strides, interfere, forge, or any number of other gait abnormalities may be moving this way because of pain in their feet. There are numerous other possibilities for poor movement (back or neck pain being common ones) but hoof health should always be checked if your horse exhibits poor movement.
You can also check the way the horse stands. If it is difficult for him to stand square, if he tends to point one front foot forward, if he cannot stop shifting weight from one front foot to another, if he stands splayed out ? these can all be signs of pain in the feet.
When considering the advice of trainers, vets, and farriers, do not lose sight of your own knowledge about your horse. Your power of observation and intuition are valuable. If you watch trainers do something that doesn't seem right to you, ask them for an explanation. If you get the feeling that they are not helping your horse, have the confidence to find a trainer with an approach that makes more sense to you. If you ask a farrier why a shoe or foot looks a certain way, and the answer is "That's how its always done," or "This is what they teach in school," or, "You take care of the riding, I'll take care of the feet..." or any number of other evasive responses, it is up to you to seek answers from other sources. Horse owners are rarely given enough credit for their own hunches. They are taught to defer to experts. But if you look more closely at the source of the expert opinion, you will find that much of it is based on custom and habit rather than careful study of what keeps horses healthy.
Health can deteriorate when biological structure and function are out of alignment. Structure -- how the body parts are held together -- is linked to function -- what the specific cells, tissues, and organs do to maintain the animal. If the hoof's ideal structure becomes altered in some way, its function will also be altered. The cause may be nutritional, environmental, or mechanical (shoeing/trimming methods) but any changes to the balance and alignment of hoof parts will affect the physiological function. And in turn, changes in hoof structure and function will affect changes in structure and function of other body parts.
How well any particular horse copes with a life full of challenges and stress is dependent on numerous environmental and genetic factors. Keep in mind that lameness often has a long silent development. By the time we see symptoms, we are likely to miss the true cause if we only look at what happened to the horse the day or week or even month beforehand.
Lisa Simons started her farrier practice in Colorado and has recently moved to Michigan where she is presently attending veterinary school at Michigan State University. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org "The Sound Hoof" is currently in press with Tallgrass Publishers, LLC, and is scheduled for release in the summer of 2003. For pre-release order information, see the publisher's website at www.tallgrasspublishers.com