Q: I am currently
"trying" a young (4 yrs old) stallion, hunter. The problem is he has
three different types of shoes on, and is not sound. On his left front he has a
normal shoe and a normal foot. On his right foot the entire shape of the foot is
different, it is thicker looking, the toe seems to roll over the shoe and
mushroom out on the base, the shoe has a pad under it (not covering his foot
only under the shoe), the shoe is "offset", and this shoe has two
copper nails at the top! His back feet both have the same normal square toed
shoes. Obviously the problem lies in his front. My question is, why did they do
this to this young horse? Is the shoe trying to correct a larger hidden problem?
Or is the shoe the cause of the problem? I have not spent the money to vet him,
since he is so obviously off. So I don't even know what his x-rays look like. I
would really like to try to help him. I only have until Monday, August 23rd so
if you could get back to me A.S.A.P. I would really appreciate it, and so would
he!!!! Thank you so much.
A: A few thoughts came to mind
as I read your message. They are probably not what you want to hear, but here
1. Why are you even considering buying a lame horse? Once you own a horse and it
goes lame you do what you can to cure him or live with the problem. But to take
on a horse that is already lame, and pay money for it, is hard to understand.
2. Even if they give you the horse, you should remember that the cheapest part
of owning a horse is the purchase price. The maintenance costs on a normal horse
mount up very quickly. On a lame horse that could require special shoeing for
the rest of his life the maintenance costs could become astronomical.
3. Why are you considering buying a stallion for a hunter? Unless he is of
incredible lineage and you just want to prove him in the show ring and then
breed him, a gelding or even a mare is by far the better choice.
4. What do the present owners of this "hunter prospect" say about his
lameness and his shoeing? You might not believe everything they have to say but
you would certainly be foolish not to ask them.
If one of my clients asked me the same questions you did, I would tell them to
cut their losses before they become attached to the horse and send him back to
his owners immediately. If the owners can get him going sound, then they can
call you again and you can consider the horse for purchase.
If you are determined to try to keep this horse, you need to have your farrier
look the horse over thoroughly and give you his assessment. Without having the
horse right here where I can see him and feel him, I would be guessing since my
crystal ball is out of order. If your regular farrier is not a Certified
Journeyman Farrier of much experience and good reputation, you should seek out a
farrier that is. Unless the farrier tells you right off that he would not want
to see you take a gamble on the horse, he will have to pull the front shoes off
to give you an educated opinion.
If you still haven't turned thumbs down on the horse by then, you will have to
get the opinion of a good equine veterinarian. If you explain the situation he
can do the more inexpensive part of the check before he does radiographs. That
way you will avoid some of the expense if the problem is visible or can be
If you decide against the horse at this point you will want to have the farrier
replace the shoes as closely as possible to how they were when the horse
arrived. This should stop the owners from complaining that you lamed up their
horse by changing his shoeing.
If you keep the horse, your vet, farrier and you will all have to work together
to try and solve whatever the problem turns out to be.
As far as which came first-the shoe or the problem? No one would put a shoe like
that on a horse that didn't have a problem of some sort already. This would hold
true especially if they were trying to sell the horse. Buyers shy away from even
seemingly sound horses that have anything other than plain normal shoes on. It
is possible that the shoe was put on to remedy one problem and now is causing
another... Who knows?
It is not my intent to discourage you on this horse but merely to point out
realities to you. It is so often that we fall in love with a face, a
personality, or a color or breed. That is why it is imperative that you have
professionals check out this horse.
One last comment. Horses are like street cars: there are some that will take
where you want to go and there are others that will dump you in a poor
The Village Blacksmith