As we anxiously await the start of another season of competitions, we are likely all wanting to have our equine athletes in top form to ensure that they are able to perform at their very best. Most of us are aware that we need to address our horse’s teeth, make sure they are getting good feed, get them on a preventative joint medication or supplement, and treat any lameness issues as needed, but how many of us are thinking critically about their feet?
Ensuring that your equine athlete’s feet are functioning optimally can mean the difference between placing at the next competition or not, but it’s an area of horse health care that is very commonly overlooked. Improving the trimming and shoeing of a horse’s feet serves to optimize their biomechanics and prevent a number of lameness issues related to the feet. The best way to evaluate this is to take high quality podiatry x-rays of your horse’s feet. Podiatry radiographs can provide a wealth of information about what is going on inside the foot - much of which we cannot see with the naked eye – and guide any necessary shoeing changes. The following image gives an idea of all of the valuable information that can be gained from a podiatry radiograph.
Shoeing survey radiographs provide similar value to taking your car to the mechanic for a wheel alignment or checking your tire pressure to prevent a flat tire. Our thoughts and ideas about how the bone is oriented inside the foot are often quite different from what we see on radiographs. Knowing what is going on under the surface allows us to detect potential problems early on and make appropriate adjustments to prevent future lameness. Dr. Kirby Penttila has been using podiatry radiographs to guide shoeing recommendations extensively for several years.
The age old adage “No foot, no horse” could not be more accurate. We can make a world of difference in a horse’s life and athletic career by optimizing the biomechanics in the foot.