The Horse

SEP 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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51 September 2018 THE HORSE never do true lateral movements or dres- sage work, and place lighter forces on their DDFTs and navicular bones, she says. "And they're not free from pathology (disease or damage), either," she adds. Taylor says she's currently working on research that will help better define what a fully developed domesticated equine foot looks like—as the horse's develop- ment when it's young appears to play a key role in a foot's ability to support the forces of riding. "We are looking at how to measure heel structure and predict the volume and integrity of digital cushions and cartilages, through MRI and physical exams," she says. Good Husbandry for Bare Feet Horses might have evolved to have great feet for their purposes but, some- where along the way, humans saw a need to begin shoeing them. Shoes are a rela- tively recent phenomenon, popping up in the Middle Ages—at about the same time humans starting housing horses in stalls, says Angelo Telatin, PhD, associate profes- sor of equine studies at Delaware Valley University, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. "The Romans worked and traveled with barefoot horses," he says. "But more than a thousand years later, because of thieves and pirates, horses got moved into stalls inside castles. They couldn't move, and they were standing in their own urine. And suddenly they started getting hoof problems." The key to healthy bare feet is letting horses roam, because movement stimu- lates growth, he says. Ideally, they should be moving on small, smooth rocks, like pebbles, or even stone dust (also known as screening). Mud, wet grass, and es- pecially urine and feces can weaken the hoof structures, while harder and rougher footing strengthen them. "The Romans had their horses in large paddocks on oval-shaped stones sticking up from the ground, so that the hooves were never standing in urine," Telatin says. "But most horses today live on the equivalent of carpet. So it's no wonder their feet can't hold up to the demands of ridden work on variable surfaces." Telatin keeps all 50 of his university's school horses barefoot—although two or three of them sometimes need front shoes for more challenging situations such as outings on rugged terrain. On the other side of the globe, farrier Declan Cronin has kept nearly an entire training stable of Thoroughbred race- horses barefoot in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. Hired by trainer Mike de Kock, Cronin worked with Taylor, following Bowker's work, to maintain "as many horses as possible" unshod in the stables of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum of the Dubai Royal Family. The horses race in shoes, per racing rules, but farriers remove them shortly thereafter. Cronin says genetics probably plays a role in hoof health and that it's important to select horses with quality hooves. Then, it's critical to maintain them properly. "We're living in a world of manicured arenas, and that's not stimulating healthy hoof growth," he says. "You've got to work the horse and let it live; if he's got a good foot, it will adapt to its environ- ment. But you can't keep him in a stall all day with fluffy bedding soaked in urine and feces and then ask him to go work hard under saddle on the track. That's too big a jump for him." Working very young horses— particularly racehorses—before their COURTESY DR. BRIAN HAMPSON The natural hoof of feral horses, such as Mustangs and brumbies, is not a good model for the domesticated horse's bare foot, due to its different workload.

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