A disease is defined as “an impairment of health or a condition of abnormal functioning”. An equine hoof disease, therefore, is an impairment of the health or normal function of the equine hoof. Horses are naturally sturdy animals. With proper care and living conditions, horses can still contract a disease of the hoof by the occasional fluke occurrences of life.
In order for proper diagnosis and treatment, a proper understanding of the hoof disease itself must come first. The discussions listed below are meant to be an introduction to the specifics of some of the more common diseased conditions of the horse hoof.
A hoof injury can be mild or severe. Depending on what kind of injury and the extent of the damage, a Farrier and/or Vet must be called. Most times when dealing with a hoof injury, a professional eye is needed to diagnose. We’ve made great strides over the years when it comes to dealing with different injuries a horse may come up with. As such, the most extreme injuries can be at least eased and aided in healing with the proper treatments. Listed here are some of the hoof injuries a horse owner may have to deal with:
- Hoof Cracks,
- Splits and Chips
- Hoof Abscesses
- Hoof Bruising
White Line Disease
What Is A White Line Disease For Horses?
White Line Disease in horses is a degenerative hoof disease that centers around the white line area of a horses hoof.
This disease may cause numerous problems including serious trauma to the inside of a horses hoof that can sometimes result in founder.
Found commonly with just one hoof containing the bacteria needed to cause white line disease, the solution is usually to put your horse on a good dose of biotin (or a good hoof growth mix) every day to keep him growing as fast as possible. Use a hoof bath with epsom salts and have your horse stand in it. Afterward, clean out as much as you can with your hoof pick and make sure to use a remedy such as white lightning after cleaning out. A farrier should be called out and a vet as well to assess the situation. White line disease can be fought off, but usually takes some coordinated effort to make it do so.
What Is Navicular Syndrome In Horses?
Navicular Syndrome is a degenerative “disease” of a horse’s hoof that can be caused by many factors. The navicular bone found in the back area of a horse hoof becomes abrasive through deterioration, causing the deep digital flexor tendon that slides along this bone to become painful for the horse. There are many reasons a horse could get navicular syndrome, including genetic weakness, concussive injury, improper shoeing, improper use of the horse, etc. Usually, the pain from such a situation is going to limit the usability of a horse. The short stunted walk of a horse with navicular is usually pretty easy to spot, depending on how extreme the case is. X-rays and a qualified vet and farrier to assess the situation are a must for the horse owner. Common fixes to help ease the pain inflicted by the navicular syndrome are raised heels, (done by leaving extra heel when trimming if possible or through the use of wedge pads). Therapy pads may be suggested to ease the concussion of the horse’s normal movement. An egg bar shoe is also another commonly attempted rectification. Regular trimming schedules are going to be key to keeping a horse with navicular syndrome comfortable. This will ensure that the angles are kept to the proper degree. The horse’s hoof tends to grow longer at the toe in most cases and shoot the angles lower, causing the abrasive navicular condition to intensify.
Ringbone in Horses
Ringbone in horses is a condition that affects the pastern joint. Ringbone can occur either high or low on the pastern, and with varying degree of seriousness.
Common causes of ringbone are:
- Concussion around the pastern area that starts a calcium deposit to start growing in order to offset the injury.
- Poor conformation leading to a weaker and more susceptible bone structure inside the hoof.
- Improper shoeing is a possibility if there are repeated structural weaknesses exposed through a poorly done job.
Hereditary cases are certainly out there and are the direct result of conformation weakness in the pastern joint area.
Ringbone is not to be taken lightly and can be offset by corrective shoeing in some cases. The common solution is to immobilize the back area of the hoof with an eggbar shoe or some such horseshoe configuration and offset the way in which the breakover follows to allow the smoothest flight pattern possible.
Make sure to call your vet and farrier if you think your horse may have ringbone. X-rays are a must in this situation.
The farrier’s main aim in this type of situation is to reduce the articulation of the joint – allowing an easier breakover.