Does my Farrier need x-rays to properly trim and/or shoe my horse?
Well, we take temps, pulse, and resp (TPR for short) daily so that we know when something is wrong long before our horse tells us. It's the same with our horse's hooves. Taking periodic radiographs lets you, your Veterinarian, and your Farrier know if the current shoeing or trimming plan is appropriate. It also provides a baseline should your horse develop hoof problems - like laminitis - where the bones inside might shift.
Besides providing a baseline of what you horse’s hooves should look like, a series of x-rays allows your Veterinarian and Farrier to see the side to side angles and the front to back angles of the bones inside. We might all be experts at what the hoof should look like, but none of us have the superpower to look inside with x-ray vision.
This allows your horse’s hoof to be shod in the optimal neutral position. As your horse works, the hoof and the structures inside will shift, testing the horse’s range of motion. If the balance of the bones inside the hoof are not in balance or neutral when at rest, the outer limits of your horse’s range of motion is compromised. This can create poor performance, soft tissue issues, and lameness. Not to mention discomfort! Even a few degrees makes a big difference.
Remember that it’s often the repetitive motions of our horse’s jobs that influence how sound and comfortable he is. With a properly aligned hoof, you give your horse the best balance available and help your horse avoid hitting the extremes inside the hoof.
Usually you only need a few radiographs of each hoof to see what’s going on inside. A view from the side, and a view from the front. If there’s something “interesting” going on inside, a few more views might be taken. Because the views are taken with your horse barefoot (usually), it makes sense to have your Vet shoot the radiographs while your Farrier is there. Some Vets prefer the radiographs to be taken at the end of a shoeing cycle to see everything.
Then your horse can have the most appropriate shoes or trim!