Rehabbing Lameness at Home

I think a lot of us have gotten into an obsession with hooves because of a lame horse. I know I did. My navicular gelding taught me a lot of things I never wanted to have to learn. Rehabbing lameness can be difficult, emotional, and a long process.

It’s not always feasible to send a lame horse off to a rehabilitation facility or veterinary hospital to stay for the duration of its rehab. It is just too costly in many cases. So what do you do if you have to rehabilitate your horse at home, or at your boarding facility?

This is what I went through, before getting into hoofcare, and I sort of went at it blindly. I had the vet out many times, but wasn’t quite sure what to have them do after the initial diagnosis (of navicular). I had a handful of different farriers come and see my horse, and nothing we did made him comfortable. So through trial and error, I found some things that I have seen help over and over again:

  1. Build a good team around you – that includes a good vet, farrier/trimmer, bodyworker, and friends to vent to (hop on over to Hoof Care and Rehabilitation on FB if you need to chat hoof lamenesses!).
  2. If it’s a hoof related lameness, make sure the horse is on a forage based, mineral balanced diet. This can help grow the healthiest hoof capsule for that individual horse.
  3. Have your vet find the potential cause of lameness through nerve blocks, then the necessary radiographs and/or ultrasounds etc. Ask your vet about bloodwork for any metabolic issues (EMS, PPID) and any other issues that might be common in your area, such as EPM, Lyme, etc.
  4. Ensure the horse is landing comfortably heel first (especially in cases of a hoof related lameness). If your horse is not landing comfortably, make sure the trim and/or package that’s on the horse’s foot isn’t hindering that by making the horse too uncomfortable to weight the heel. Treat any semblance of thrush.
  5. Ask questions. Be open and honest with your team. Film progress. Take pictures. Ask more questions.

It can be done! Ann Ramsey, an Equine Rehabilitation Specialist in California, and I chat about rehabbing lameness at home in this month’s first podcast episode.

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