Merck Manual

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Professional Version

Foot Care of Horses


Allison J. Stewart

, BVSc (Hons), PhD, DACVIM-LAIM, DACVECC, School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland

Reviewed/Revised Oct 2022 | Modified Nov 2022

Hoof care is essential for good mobility and comfort of the horse. "No hoof, no horse" is a common expression and is as true today as it was 200 years ago. Proper trimming at regular intervals (4–8 weeks) will result in good hoof and leg balance. Conditions such as hoof cracks, thrush, and white line disease can be recognized early and treated properly. All horse owners should learn to recognize the initial clinical signs of laminitis so that treatment and dietary preventive measures can be started as soon as possible.

In young foals, weanlings, and yearlings, frequent hoof trimming will assure proper weight bearing and bone alignment. A balanced foot early in a horse's life will also help to avoid potential lameness Lameness in Horses and alleviate injuries later in life. For a horse to perform to the best of its ability, it must be sound (free from pain). Soundness is an aspect of health and implies more than just the absence of visible lameness. A sound horse can better meet the demands of physical and mental activity in any equestrian discipline.

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