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CHECKING A HORSE’S FEET BEFORE YOU BUY


What follows is taken and adapted from the American Farriers Journal who looked at papers from the American Equine Practitioners Association (Veterinarians) annual meetings dealing with prepurchase horses examinations. This was just to get some guidelines on evaluating horses feet when buying for different disciplines. These are 6 different veterinarians opinions.

When you are investing money in a horse it is always a good idea to get a veterinarian prepurchase exam to help avoid large vet bills post purchase. If you have any concerns about the feet of a horse you are planning to buy ask your farrier to give them a look over. Most farriers are happy to give an opinion because once you buy the horse the condition the feet are in will affect them. Personally I’ll never try to tell someone not to buy a horse but I’m always happy to give an opinion.

Western Performance

Jerry Black finds it's essential to know how a horse will be used when evaluating feet during a prepurchase examination. The equine veterinarian at the Pioneer Equine Hospital in Oakdale, Calif., pays close attention to the hocks and stifles while evaluating cutting and reining horses.

He says larger Quarter Horses have traditionally had a relatively high incidence of navicular disease due to foot size, straight pastern angulation and large muscle mass. While significant strides have been made in breeding a more modern type of Quarter Horse with better overall conformation, Black says attention must be paid to the principles of distal limb conformation and balance.

With team roping horses, he finds added stress is placed on the distal forelimbs while turning the steer or positioning the horse to rope the heels. The result is a relatively high incidence of degenerative arthritis in the distal joints. Bone spavin is also a common occurrence due to body type and performance stress.

With barrel horses, he looks at foot size, conformation and balance since concussion can be severe. Significant stress is also placed on the hindlimbs while propelling the horse around the barrel at a high rate of speed.


What follows is taken and adapted from the American Farriers Journal who looked at papers from the American Equine Practitioners Association (Veterinarians) annual meetings dealing with prepurchase horses examinations. This was just to get some guidelines on evaluating horses feet when buying for different disciplines. These are 6 different veterinarians opinions.

When you are investing money in a horse it is always a good idea to get a veterinarian prepurchase exam to help avoid large vet bills post purchase. If you have any concerns about the feet of a horse you are planning to buy ask your farrier to give them a look over. Most farriers are happy to give an opinion because once you buy the horse the condition the feet are in will affect them. Personally I’ll never try to tell someone not to buy a horse but I’m always happy to give an opinion.

Jumpers, Dressage Horses

Daniel Marks of Santa Fe, N.M., wants to know the type and quality of shoeing a horse has previously had when examining jumper and dressage horses for possible purchase.

He says many factors must be considered with each horse before reaching a prepurchase decision. As an example, he cites 17 relevant factors that need to be considered with a horse that has an oddly shaped or small foot:


1. History of previous lamenesses.
2. Conformation that may relate to the foot.
3. Musculoskeletal pathology in the leg.
4. Shape and quality of the hoof.
5. Wear of the shoe or hoof.
6. Shoeing techniques that have been used.
7. Response to hoof testers and percussion.
8. The flight of the leg, foot landing and breakover.
9. Evidence of lameness.
10. Other tests such as toe elevation prior to trotting.
11. Radiographic findings.
12. The vet's knowledge as to the intended
use of the horse.
13. Consideration of the buyer's circumstances.
14. Quality of the farrier, as a specialized farrier
might be required to maintain difficult feet.
15. Schooling surface.
16. Probable show schedule.
17. Show ring footing.


Polo Ponies

Paul Wollenman of the Palm Beach Equine Clinic in Wellington, Fla., likes a big cupped hoof with a short toe and good heel in polo ponies."Over the past 5 years, less chronic heel pain has occurred in polo ponies due to farriers paying special attention to toe length, breakover and hoof growth," he says.

When examining horses with underrun heels, different sized feet or lameness concerns that show during an examination, he definitely wants to see radiographs.

 



Distance Horses

When evaluating horses for competitive trail riding or endurance riding, Matthew Mackay-Smith suggests paying close attention to the feet. The White Post, Va., equine veterinarian and member of the American Farriers Journal International Equine Veterinarian Hall of Fame, says mismatched hooves can be a serious concern with endurance type horses. In evaluating soundness, he expects to find good feet with thick, tough, flinty hoof walls. There should be a moderate slope to the hoof with deep open hooves that give the impression of an oversized foot with matching hooves.

Gaited Horses

Hugh Behling says American Saddlebreds aren't susceptible to greatly increased incidences of lamenesses. This is due to the elevated and shortened stride length or lack of extension on the anterior phase of the foot flight pattern. When making prepurchase examinations, the Simpsonville, Ky., equine veterinarian finds contracted heels, sheared heels, quarter cracks and hoof wall separation are typical foot concerns.

Except for pleasure classes, he says there are no restrictions on using pads, double-nailing techniques, lead weighting, clips or bands on shoes. It's also common to find large hoof wall defects filled with acrylics. "The incidence of lamenesses due to diagnosed navicular pain is similar to that in the Thoroughbred population," he says. "There are bloodlines that seem to have a high incidence for one of the forefeet having a dished foot."

Adapted from the American Farriers Journal


(Note that no information given on this website should be considered a substitute
for consulting your veterinarian or farrier)

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