Arthritis is common in older horses, especially former equine athletes. And while veterinarians have a host of medical treatments to relieve arthritic pain, one therapeutic area that gets less attention is hoof care.
Owners and farriers can look to horses themselves for tips. For example, suffering steeds intuitively try to lighten their loads to ease pain. So, providing ground surfaces that absorb impact — like soft dirt, bedding or certain floorings — can help.
Arthritic horses also limit their range of motion, so using a foot stand while trimming or cleaning hooves avoids overflexing tender joints. In addition, farriers can modify shoes to ease the breakover — that’s the motion required for a horse to lift its heel during a stride.
Finally, trimming a horse’s hooves frequently will help keep surfaces even, aid alignment and support balance.