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Ask Dr. Dave

Jacquelynn from Alabama, writes:

Dear Dr. Dave,

My horse, Cowgirl, is having a few issues. Lately she is developing a crack on the side of her hoof. It looks like she got hung on something and it cracked. Lately she has been wobbling a bit too. She runs out in the pasture and seems wobbly or limping and some days she seems just fine. And she is also a VERY easy keeper, if you don't keep her working or going she gets a little chunky. She's naturally a very stout mare with a lot of power and muscle but her belly likes to hang. Is there something I can do to help with her belly? Thank you very much.

Dear Jacquelynn,

Thank you for your questions about Cowgirl.

Yes it does sound like she has some issues. However for me to help you, I am going to need some more information.

How old is Cowgirl? What breed is she? What has been her primary use? Has she ever had a foal?

Which hoof has the crack? Where on the hoof is the crack located? Did the crack begin on the bottom of the hoof or on the top? Is the crack horizontal or vertical? How long has she had the crack? Is Cowgirl presently shod or is she barefoot? If she is barefoot, how long since she was last trimmed?

How long has she been turned out on pasture? What kind of grasses are in the pasture?

From the information you did provide, my first inclination would be to consider laminitis. Laminitis could explain the hoof crack, the wobbling, and the intermittent lameness. The “easy keepers” seem to be prone to laminitis, as well as pendulous abdomens.

After receiving the requested information I will attempt to help you in any manner I can. In the meantime I recommend you have your veterinarian evaluate your mare and establish a healthy nutrition program.

Thank you again for your questions,

Dr. Dave