Did you know that vets and farriers share a common ancestor? Indeed, just as the Royal College of Surgeons traces its history back to barbers, farriers treated general equine ailments as well as shoeing horses. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon was created at the end of the 18th century initially to give farriers a rational, scientific, standardised grounding to the treatment of horses. Over time, the two professions split into the two professions we have today.
Nowadays, now we work together very closely and we recently had a very successful example of how we come together to fix a serious problem in a horse’s foot. “Jupiter” was presented with severe cracks in both his front feet that extended right up to the coronary band. The cracks were pinching the coronary band every time he moved, and were causing him to be quite severely lame.
After radiographs confirmed no damage to the underlying skeletal structures, Dr Harry Caldicott and local farrier, James Pinfold, performed a “dorsal wall resection”. This involved sedating him, nerve blocking the foot, applying a tourniquet, removing the hoof wall around the cracks and removing any decaying material underneath. A bar shoe was then fitted to maintain stability and the missing hoof was filled with a quick-drying acrylic that behaves like normal hoof wall. Jupiter is now sound, and the “false hoof” will grow out over time, being replaced by healthy hoof.
Jupiter’s owner has seen a great change in him since, “I bought Jupiter as a yearling blind and didn’t realise how severe his front feet were until I got him home and saw his movement in the field (or lack of). It was very sad to see such a young horse that didn’t trot or canter when turned out in a herd. This subsequently affected his personality as he was unable to ‘play’ with the other horses he was turned out with. After having the vet come out to assess him and deciding what route of action to take to make him more comfortable, I was quite nervous as it seemed quite invasive. However, I’m very happy with his process and the support I have had from my vet and farrier. Jupiter is now turned out in a herd and new growth to his hoof can be seen. It’s still a long process, however he can now happily trot, canter and is sound. Happy horse, happy owner!"