When we consider that Lameness can rob our horse and us from the very essence of what a horse is all about we should learn all we can about this subject.
The first line of defense is your Farrier. This is like picking your family doctor. You want someone who stays current on issues and resources to properly care for your horse. I would add that one very valuable characteristic of the best Farrier is that he or she remains open to ALL the options for your horse. I have written about the possibility of bare foot options in my earlier article titled “TO SHOE OR NOT TO SHOE?”. Given the consequences of Lameness and the many diseases that can cause it, our main strategy should be to learn all we can on behalf of our four legged friend.
The most common hoof problems manifest themselves as; White Line Disease (Seedy Toe), Laminitis, Thrush, Abscesses, etc. Some of these are pretty obvious such as splits/cracks, color changes, etc. Others may not be so obvious, things like a tiny pebble or thorn that lodges in the soft tissue of the Frog. These are the things that a frequent and thorough Farrier routine will catch. One of the indicators of a good farrier is the amount of time and detail they spend on cleaning ech hoof to uncover any hidden signs of trouble. Another good sign is if your Farrier shows up with all the necessary equipment and products to do whatever repairs are necessary.
My suggestion is that you spend as much time talking with the person you are considering turning your horse over to for their evaluation and care. It will serve you well to ask questions about things like how they approach subjects like shoeing vs. barefoot vs. hoof boots. All three of these options have their place and it will be instructive to find out how well versed your Farrier is on each and all of these subjects.
I hope this article will spur you (pun intended) to learn more on behalf of your horse.
Thank You for being a Caring Horse Owner.