Foot problems are probably the number one cause of lameness in horses. Oftentimes, a horse with a problem on one foot is likely to have similar problems on the rest of his feet. Most foot problems can be prevented if an owner has familiarized themselves with some of the most common problems that a horse is likely to get and by regularly suspecting and cleaning a horse's feet. Some conditions which can lead to very serious problems can be dealt with by using corrective shoes if they are caught early on. Of course, any concerns regarding the health of a horse should be looked at by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Easily one of the most common types of ailments seen in horses today is thrush. Thrush is a condition that occurs when the frog begins to degenerate after infection. The frog is the easily identifiable portion under a horse's hoof that generally has an almost rubbery consistency. If the frog has a thick discharge, is black, or has a foul odor, it is likely that the horse has thrush. This often occurs when a horse spends a great deal of time standing in moist or unsanitary conditions. Providing a horse with a clean dry area to stand in and regularly cleaning its hooves will prevent this condition.
A bruised sole is another very common element that affects the feet of a lot of horses. A horse that spends a great deal of time on a hard surface, whether working or standing, can get a bruised sole. There may be some inflammation associated with this condition, but corrective footing and treatment for the inflammation are generally all that is required for treatment. Laminitis and founder are also very serious conditions that can affect the horse's feet and require corrective shoes as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
Horses put an extraordinary amount of weight and pressure on their feet whether they are standing or at a full run. Regularly inspecting and cleaning a horse's feet are two of the most important elements of responsible horse ownership. It is also important for an owner to keep a close eye on a horse if it seems to be favoring one leg over another as this may be a sign of a more serious condition. Catching a foot related ailment early on is important since they can cause serious pain and stress to an animal if allowed to progress.