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Standing Firm: Tips to get your horse back on his feet

By Mary Grace Schmid, sourced from the May/June 2019 Paint Horse Journal article “Oh, My Aching Feet” by Katie Navarra


When a horse goes lame, three common hoof issues could be the root of the problem: a hoof abscess, thrush or a hoof crack. In the May/June 2019 Paint Horse Journal, certified farrier Heath Lash shared his techniques and tips on how to relieve your horse’s aching feet due to these three common issues.

An abscess is a bacterial infection that causes pressure and pain on a hoof. If your horse has an abscess:

  • It might rupture on its own, therefore relieving the pressure and associated lameness.
  • A farrier or veterinarian can often pinpoint the abscess and drain it, which is helpful in situations when it doesn’t burst on its own.
  • Soaking the hoof in Epsom salts and wrapping it in a poultice can help the abscess rupture more easily on its own.
  • Regular hoof care and use of horseshoes with pads or hospital plates might help keep bacteria and other irritants out of the hoof, thereby preventing future abscesses.

Muddy conditions or insufficient hoof care can cause thrush, a bacterial infection that specifically affects the frog area on a hoof. If your horse has thrush:

  • Routine trimming can help remedy thrush, if the case is mild.
  • Topical treatments that dry out the hoof and target the bacteria can be used to treat thrush.

The three different types of hoof cracks—quarter, toe and horizontal—are caused by a variety of issues. If your horse has a hoof crack:

  • Consider asking your farrier to use a quarter clip to stabilize the hoof.
  • Use of a Z-bar shoe, used in treating quarter cracks, can help redistribute pressure across the hoof.
  • Ongoing care is required to help eliminate cracks—it takes approximately 12 months for a horse’s hoof to grow out completely, so constant monitoring by your farrier is vital to the hoof’s healing process.

Ensuring that your horse’s hooves are trimmed regularly and that the horse has a clean living environment can help prevent these hoof problems. To learn more about these conditions, their causes and how to remedy them, read “Oh, My Aching Feet” in the May/June 2019 Paint Horse Journal. Subscribe today!


[Reprinting all or part of this news release is permitted, so long as credit is given to thePaint Horse Journaland a link provided back to apha.com.]


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The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded in 1962. APHA promotes, preserves and provides meaningful experiences with Paint Horses.