Thursday, April 13, 2006

Tips for keeping your horse sound and healthy?

I have this horse who seems to get a little sore MUCH more often then my other horses. I have two other horses who are on the same diet, have the same farrier, get the same trim, live in the same pasture, and get MUCH more work then she does and are not sore. This horse (and my other horses) do not have shoes. She's top mare so no one is kicking her. This horse CANNOT walk on gravel without limping, but I can avoid the gravel so it's not and issue. She has had leg and hoof issues in the past but those are all healed up. The vet says she is healthy. She just must be more "delicate" than our other horses. So I'm gonna start working with her more and I want to keep her as sound and healthy as possible. What are some things I can do that will keep her hoofs and legs strong and healthy?

Answer on Tips for keeping your horse sound and healthy?

I'd first look at her diet and if it is high in soluble carbs, which can be from a combination of the sugars in the pasture grasses, and cereal grains, I'd consider a change in her diet to a low glycemic index feed like Purina Equine Senior to replace the cereal grains. I would also have the vet perform blood work to check for metabolic issues like insulin resistance or Cushing's disease. Horses with these conditions require strict adherence to restricted dietary intake of soluble carbohydrates. One of the outcomes for these horses can be a proneness to laminitis, abscesses, hoof bruises, and so forth. If she does have metabolic issues, your vet can advise you on treatment options, including the use of a grazing muzzle if needed.

I'd also look at the way she is being trimmed, and her conditioning. I'd suggest having her evaluated by a qualified barefoot trimmer if that hasn't been done. A proper barefoot trim with conditioning on the right ground to improve circulation within her hooves and to toughen and thicken the tissues might be what is needed. Hoof boots can be worn when she has to be ridden on gravel until she develops healthier hooves.

Combining a good diet, ample exercise on medium ground surface combined with conditioning to hard surfaces, and correct balanced barefoot trims, her hooves can be strengthened and hardened to handle the gravel without her being so sensitive. I would not resort to shoes, which don't do anything to create healthy hooves.....quite the opposite is true.