A Preliminary Review of Equine Hoof Management and the Client–Farrier Relationship in the United Kingdom

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Abstract

It is accepted that equine performance is directly influenced by hoof condition. Despite this, hoof abnormalities are the most frequent owner-reported cause of lameness and limited literature has evaluated hoof management practices. A survey was developed to establish the prevalence of hoof abnormalities in the UK, the corresponding routine treatments and to explore the client-farrier relationship. Of the respondents, 89% reported to have encountered hoof problems in the previous five years and routine use of hoof care products such as supplements and dressings was widespread. Whilst 96% of horses in the United Kingdom receive regular hoof care from a farrier, the client-farrier relationship has not previously been explored. It was found that 74% of respondents had worked with their farrier for more than two years; 41% however, had previously had difficulties finding a farrier they trusted. Of the respondents, 23% had a criticism of their farrier and 29% felt their farrier would have criticisms of their demeanour. It was suggested that both parties have a responsibility to one another in order to maintain an effective client-farrier relationship. Although certain supplements can be beneficial, scientific investigation is required to ascertain the efficacy of products such as hoof dressings on hoof growth and integrity. Furthermore, it would be of benefit to explore farrier and veterinary willingness to communicate and collaborate in order to provide optimal farriery. Cooperation between the professions has previously been highlighted as essential to therapeutic farriery but has not been investigated.

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