I have dedicated my life to help my equine friends. How and why I got started is quite a long story and I will leave it for later. I was fortunate to have long-term relationship with some horses and through them have gained a profound understanding not only of hooves but also equine behavior. This journey has taught me to hone my observational skills and has reminded me that nature has amazing ways to heal itself. I have many long-term case studies but I will start with omega.
I started to work on Omega, a Dutch warmblood mare, in October of 2002. I was called to help this broodmare because her hooves were quite compromised. I was told that she had a bout of laminitis prior to being bred. Her bout of laminitis occurred while running barefoot on semi-arid ground. It was not a metabolic issue but rather a matter of long-term poor hoof care and perhaps pasture management. The hoof that showed the most damage was a club foot. Note, that club feet could be mostly avoided if addressed as soon as possible when the horse is a young foal. There are many options on how to treat foals with hoof issues. For a club foot on a young foal there is a array of treatments such as toe extenstion, stall rest and as a last resort a desmotomy of the check ligament. (#2) Club feet are not necessarily a genetic issue.
Nutrition, pasture management and corrective shoeing can be very helpful to alleviate such issues. Nutritional care starts prenatally namely with proper nutrition for mares. There is a fine line between feeding mares too little or too much. Mare’s milk surpasses cow’s milk with respect to whey, as mare’s milk contains about 40%, approximately double that of cow’s. (#1) If mares are over fed it could create problems in the development of the foal, such as rapid growth spurts. Pasture management is very important not just in terms of feed intake but also in terms of cartering the amount of movement a foal can handle during growth spurts. It is important to consider the type of ground surface a foal is allowed to roam on. It is not a very good idea to bring a foal from a very soft enviroment to a very hard and dry pasture especially if the foal is very active.
Wisely, the treating veterinarian at that time did not think that Omega could be a serious performance horse. The owner then decided to make Omega a broodmare instead. Omega was leased to a warmblood breeder, which is where I found her initially. From experience (and sadly) I have noticed that broodmares are not always the soundest horses nor do they receive the best hoof-care. Out of curiosity, I polled 156 hoof-care practitioners on different social media platforms and asked about the state of hoof-care of broodmares.
See below the results of my poll.
Omega was in foal at the time I started to help her. She successfully produced a nice colt. On a side note, it has always been puzzling to me that broodmares are not always the soundest animals or get the best hoof care. Omega’s club hoof was probably a result of untreated limb contracture which probably occurred when she was a filly (see links above). It is hard to tell if Omega had a true genetic club hoof or if this condition was the result of untreated foal limb contracture. My recommendation for anyone who owns mares and foals would be to be very vigilant with their hoof care and nutrition. Also, in an ideal world, broodmares should be exercised to maintained good physical condition.
END OF PART 1 – More to come later…
#1 Read more about mares milk here:
#2 View more on information regarding corrective hoof-care for foals here: