Wednesday, 17 March 2010

While we are on the subject of research...

...I was reading a veterinary report yesterday on a horse diagnosed with "navicular" - ie pain which had blocked to the palmar/caudal hoof of the front limb - and there were several treatment options recommended.

The first was bar shoes and wedges. The problem is that there is no research to support this as a successful treatment, as far as I am aware, although its often put forward as a therapy. Anecdotally, I know of a number of horses where they gave a temporary improvement, but I don't know of any where the shoes resulted in a "cure" - despite the fact that "corrective shoeing" is normally the first resort for these types of horses.

The second option was to work the horse on bute. That may be pragmatic, but its hardly treatment.

The third option was to de-nerve it. Again, pragmatic, but not a treatment.

Other common treatments include drug therapies like tiludronate (Tildren) - which at least IS backed by research, but is much less commonly used.

Lets bear in mind that according to the Animal Health Trust's research (which we used as a basis for Project Dexter), 95% of all horses with this type of pain who also show bone degeneration and soft tissue damage fail to return to their previous level of work. All the horses in that study underwent "corrective shoeing" but of course that very process is itself not research based.

When you look at these photos, even a child can see that the back of the shod horse's hoof is not engaged and isn't working. So why are we still clinging to shoes as a remedy for palmar/caudal hoof pain?


Clare said...

Because vets aren't taught anything different :-(

Cristina said...

I went to a lecture last year about feet at the Royal Veterinary College. The remedial farrier there who has seen and shod Frankie gave part of the lecture. He also was quite clear that wedges are not a long term solution and at best offer only temporary relief. However there is a certain demand for it as it seems to work at first.
And if take barefoot out of the equation, what have they got to offer?

Nic Barker said...

Absolutely, Cristina - I think like all of us they and the farriers are desperate to do something to help these horses, and you can only use what you have. I'm hoping Project Dexter will add another tool to that particular box...