Lameness - Pt. 3

Lameness, Part III

Hoof Injuries

Mairen straightens up and brushes her hands off on her legs, "Alright the next step is to check the feet. Runners depend on their feet for their very life. That may sound a little dramatic but if you think about it a runner with a useless hoof is a runner that we have to destroy. Runners need to be able to stand and run, even when we keep them safe here in the stable. You all I hope remember Master Matison's lesson about founder and hoof care because I'm not going to repeat that today; if you have questions about that you can see one of us individually. What we are going to talk about is how to tell when there is an injury to the hoof. Feeling for swelling or heat in the leg is much easier than feeling for the same inside the hoof. For this I'll use my own runner since Change recently picked up a stone. Now you may or may not actually see the stone that caused the problem, but you should always check the feet when you are checking a runner for lameness. Lisa, would you get Change out please?"

Mairen turns around and extracts her hoof testers from the bucket of supplies behind her and holds them out for everyone to look at them, "These are hoof testers, they are a very important part of your examination. They work similarly to the way a set of tongs or pliers would grab something. You'll notice however that the ends curve around so that the flat ends meet. This particular design allows you to put pressure on parts of the hoof when you squeeze the handles together. The long handles give you enough leverage to put quite a bit of pressure on the hoof."

Mairen backs up to leave room for Lisa to lead Change out, then patting the mare on the rump moves around to her left foreleg. Tucking the hooftesters into her belt, Mairen reaches for the hoof with her left hand then deftly passes the hoof under her left leg, catching it between her knees, leaving her hands free to operate the hooftesters. Mairen pulls the hooftesters from her belt, before explaining a bit "It takes both hands to properly operate the testers so we need to hold the hoof in the same manner that a Smith would when trimming hooves. I've started with this hoof because it shouldn't be sore; it was her other foreleg that she had the stone in. I want to check this foot for a comparison. Every runner reacts differently to the hoof testers. This way I can try to determine which response is actually pain."

Mairen opens the handles spreading the jaws of the testers, then placing the jaws so that one end is against the outside of the hoof wall and the other against the sole. "I'm going to check the toe and all around the hoofwall like this. You want to close the testers tightly in spots all around here. If she has foundered, has a nail driven in improperly or has a stone that has worked into her hoof we should see pain here."

Finishing around the toe, Mairen places one end of the testers against the frog and the other on the outside of the hoofwall. "Often you will get some response when you test the frog like this, but this is a very common place for stone bruises to show. Again that is why it is so important to test more than one foot, you need to know which is that runner's normal response and which is an actual response to pain."

Mairen sets the hoof down and moves over to the other side, "I'd like all of you to come over here and watch because I suspect she will show some discomfort on this foot."

Mairen leans over to pick up the right foreleg and proceeds with the exam in the same sequence as on the left foreleg. As she closes the testers over the frog and tightens them, Change tosses her head and pulls her foot away forcefully, attempting to walk off. Mairen stumbles out of the way and grins at the other Herders "Now that was a rather distinctive sign of pain. If you don't get any response that you can be sure of with the hoof testing, then repeat the trotting evalutation. Often times the hoof testers will make the injury painful enough that they will limp more on that hoof."

Mairen pauses to rub the mare's nose in apology before finishing up, "Now you know a bit more about diagnosing lamenesses in runners. Later we will cover more about the causes, and the individual treatments."

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