Monday, 20 April 2009

90% of lameness is in the foot...

I was reading a paper last night by a friend who is a professional event rider.  It was a very interesting read, about the correct development of the horse's back, but she included, in passing, the old comment that 90% of lameness is in the foot - something we have all read in one veterinary or farriery textbook or another. 

It got me thinking.  

In the years when I had shod horses, I would have agreed that 90% of lameness was in the foot - Ghost was a good example, as when he went lame all those years ago it nerve-blocked to caudal hoof pain.

However, in the years that our horses have been barefoot and working hard, we have had lameness occasionally, but it has always been an accident - such as Bailey getting kicked last week - or a strain injury, like a pulled muscle or tendon.   Its rarely in the foot. 

In fact the only lameness I can think of when it HAS been in the foot are abscesses - and again those have happened very rarely (despite 2 years of interminably wet weather!), and seem to occur no more frequently in barefoot horses than in shod horses, at least up here.    

Of course, there are horses that arrive here for rehab - those ARE lame, and its consistently in the foot.  But guess what...that type of lameness ALWAYS (to date!) improves once they have been here for a few weeks...and often they come completely sound.

So maybe the saying should be...90% of all lameness is in the foot IF your horse is shod...

...but what about the barefoot horses with bad feet (and you do see them - poorly trimmed or lacking work and with correspondingly weak hooves)...and the well shod horses who have no problems?

I think personally that the saying should really be:

90% of lameness is in the foot UNLESS your horse has perfect foot balance.  

Can be shod, can be barefoot - of course, its much easier to balance a foot without a shoe, because with enough correct work, the horse will do it for you... :-)

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