The research conducted by the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization (E.L.P.O.) will examine practical and scientific theories and application protocol that assistant in the successful treatment of lameness & pathology in horses, as well as offer new guidelines for ultimately preventing lameness. Many of the theories and hoof care practices that are commonly taught and used in the hoof care industry today were developed several decades ago, and some even centuries in the past.
The information contained within these notes will help simplify many issues that pertained to lateral/medial hoof balance, dorsal/palmar hoof balance, as well as establishing a reliable formula for detecting and treating hoof deformities and distortions before they have a negative affect on the performance and soundness of horses. What makes this information easy to apply is that finding the widest part of the foot offers the most reliable reference to the distal phalanx. This will help to recognize hoof distortions long before they become irreversible or seriously damaging to the horse.
Many horse owners today are considering permanently taking shoes off their horses. These decisions stem from many factors. Some of these decisions are financial, while many are based on information presented widely on the internet and in equine publications. Unfortunately some of this information is not based on good science, although it is presented as such.
Barefoot trimming involves many factors that must be employed in order for it to be a successful venture. Some primary components are: environment, husbandry, hoof health and expectations. As a hoof care provider, you may only have control over 1 or possible 2 of those components. The hoof care needs and ultimately the hoof health of the horse is your primary focus in most cases. Although you may be able to offer advice to the horse owner regarding husbandry issues like feed, conditioning, environment conditions, or expectations, you really only have control over the feet. In many cases, even that bit of control may be shared with the owner or others involved in the overall care of the horse. It is for that reason that you need to have some specific goals in mind so that your contribution offers the horse the best possible chance to live a happy and sound life in managed barefoot care.
The goal of the E.L.P.O. Hoof Evaluation Protocol is to accurately, consistently and in accordance with an established standard be able to determine the amount and/or location of hoof distortions in individual equine feet. Although an overall rating for each foot may be achieved, individual attention to primary hoof structures is the key. Through the systematic evaluation of the external hoof anatomy, a more accurate and meaningful evaluation of the foot can be achieved, as well as a determination of the overall health and soundness of the horse.
The following is a list of Common Lameness Issues or Pathologies. Each topic will have one or several articles that may describe what the lameness is, how it is commonly caused and a general approach to treatment.
The following videos are provided as complimentary information from HoofCare TV. These videos are not produced by the E.L.P.O., however you may find that there is helpful information included in these videos. Please use your discretion and if any additional information about the contents of these videos is needed, please contact the source of the information.
The Equine Lameness Prevention Organization has worked diligently to develop and improve these basic hoof mapping, trimming and shoeing guidelines for use by all hoof care practitioners.These guidelines serve as a "recipe" for a safe and effective approach to every foot you work on. There are certainly other influences like environment, discipline, work expectations, lameness issues, etc. that play a roll in slight modifications to the process along the way, but we find that the basic approach listed in these protocols will yield the best results for almost all horses. However, your experience as a hoof care practitioner will guide you in making the best & final choices for each horse.
The link below will take you to an image gallery of "Basic Lower Limb Anatomy & Terms" that will be helpful to be familiar with as you read the various articles and information pages on this website. Many images are compliments of the Glass Horse Project, LLC & the University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc.. They are still frame shots from "The Distal Limb" software package. If you would like more details on this terrific software, please visit their website: www.3dglasshorse.com. Other images are compliments of Wild Horse Publishing.
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Recognizing, Evaluating & Understanding Hoof Distortions and How They Relate to Lameness
There are many common factors connected with lower limb lameness (LLL). Horses that are driven or ridden in a straight line are less affected by lower limb lameness than those horses who are asked to continually and repeatedly turn circles and make complicated lateral movements. Endurance horses, light driving horses and general pleasure horses in general exhibit fewer instances of lower limb lameness as compared to performance horses (roping, reining, cutting and barrels), dressage horses, and hunters and jumpers.
It is speculated that Navicular Syndrome is responsible for about 1/3 of all chronic forelimb lameness in horses. Although the Navicular region of the hind limbs can be affected in the same way, most Navicular Syndrome diagnosis are on the front feet. The terms Navicular “Syndrome” (NS) and Navicular “Disease” (ND) are often used synonymously; however there is a definite difference. There are generally less than 10% of all horses diagnosed with “Navicular Syndrome/Disease” that actually have radiographic changes or significant degeneration of the Navicular bone (NB).
You will often see the terms “laminitis” and “founder” used interchangeably, however it is important to note that they are considered two separate conditions, or at least different stages. Laminitis by definition is “…inflammation of the sensitive laminae of the foot” which is pretty general. The term “Founder” has been associated with the actual displacement of the coffin bone within the hoof capsule as a result of laminitis. It is possible for a horse to get laminitis and not end up with founder, however a horse cannot founder without first having laminitis.