Shoeing the Foundered Horse

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Q: My 18 yr old Qtr/Arab Gelding was diagnosed with Founder by my vet about 5 weeks ago. I was told maybe due to me turning him loose in our back acre with fresh spring weeds growing. Within 1 hour, he couldn't walk! My vet gave him an IV solution of various medications, and we also had to give him a shot 3 times a day for 3 days along with this IV solution. He is so much better now, and I want to try to ride him but am afraid. The vet said I'd know when it was okay to do so, but when is when?? My farrier came out two days ago, and said Red still isn't OK to trail ride yet cause his front feet are a bit tender. He wants to come back in 2 1/2 weeks to trim him and put on front shoes only. He also said something about me putting Red on vitamins to help his feet. Any info you could pass along would be GREATLY appreciated. I follow your site regularly, and am pleased with all the great tips you offer!! I'm anxious to get back on and ride, but I sure don't want to hurt my best buddy. My husband and I are fairly new to horses--with this guy and a pure bred Arabian mare. Talk about live and learn!!! Thanks in advance for any info you can pass along to us. Keep up the great work...

A: You stated that your vet diagnosed your horse with founder (laminitis). I hope that diagnosis included x-rays so that we can better address the severity of founder that we have to deal with. Are we talking rotation? Are we talking sinker? The exact extent of damage resulting from the diagnosed founder would need to be known before trimming or shoeing the horse in a therapeutic manner.

Your farrier could make a guessing diagnosis with hoof testers, the strength of pulse, the temperature of the hooves, and the demeanor of the horse and then proceed to shoe the horse as he sees fit. I do not believe in guess-work shoeing, although it is done frequently. If you get lucky things will work out. If you don't get lucky you could quite possibly wind up with a dead horse or a horse that only makes a good lawn ornament or pet.

You say that Red is your best buddy and best buddies deserve better than guesswork.

After careful examination and conferring with a respected veterinarian, I often shoe foundered horses with either full support shoes with rocker toes, or wide web shoes with rocker toes, backing up and easing the break-over. In severe cases, hoof wall resections, Equilox hoof wall strengthening and/or replacement, and adjustable heart bar shoes are sometimes necessary to save the life or usefulness of the horse.

***We offer an information package on the adjustable heart bar shoe for sale to qualified experienced farriers only. The package includes instructions for constructing, applying and making the frequent and necessary adjustments to the shoe as well as many indispensable hints for insuring the best possible results. Call 541-459-2609 (preferably at 8 PM Oregon time) or send e-mail message for purchase information.***

I recommend that the horse's feet be cleaned out daily and the soles coated with either 7% iodine or, more preferably, Durasole.

I would suggest that you confer again with your veterinarian and also have your farrier discuss Red with your vet before proceeding with treatment. Also I recommend that you re-read my article on laminitis.

When is when? can only be determined by an accurate diagnosis. A second set of x-rays is frequently needed to determine this. Or a first set if none were taken at the onset of the laminitis.

An aspect of founder that is often times overlooked when there is rotation, is strain on the attachment of the extensor tendon to the extensor process of the cannon bone, causing inflammation and tenderness to the extensor tendon. This can easily be misdiagnosed as tender front feet. Wall separation (which is sometimes called seedy toe) and abscesses frequently follow even mild bouts of laminitis.

You stated that your farrier wanted to come back in two and a half weeks to trim and put on front shoes only. Shoeing a horse on the front end only should be done for therapeutic reasons and not for trail riding.

You would want to talk over the feeding of vitamins with your veterinarian. With an 18 year old horse, I would think that it probably couldn't hurt. However, MSM and biotin would make more sense to me. I put all my horses over 10 years old on MSM. Biotin with methionine is frequently given to try to stimulate hoof growth. I recommend Vita-Flex Nutrition's HT-20. Follow the manufacturers' directions on the amounts given.

Thank you very much for your kind words on my American Blacksmith site. Good luck to you and Red. I have said this many times before and few follow up. But I will say it again. Get back to me and let me know how things work out.

Best regards,
Geronimo Bayard
The American Blacksmith
Oakland, Oregon

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This entire web site is copyright protected.  1996-2001 Geronimo & Mary Bayard,  2001-2008 Mary Fitzpatrick
All rights reserved. Contact Mary for reproduction information & permission.