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Why check digital pulses in the horse?

In every assessment, in every Integrative Equine Podiatry consult, in every hoof, we check the strength of the digital pulse. We document this and give it a score out of 3, where 0 = completely healthy and 3 = very strong digital pulse. It is the strength and not the frequency we are assessing and it is an indicator of local or systemic change in health which could mean there is a trauma, inflammation or disease process occurring which might necessitate immediate veterinary care.

We show horse carers and professionals how to assess this too and what it means if they change. We encourage owners to check these daily as part of a daily health check. Everybody involved with caring for horses should be able to assess this, and understand what is means. Prevention, as they say; is always better than cure!

We support our clients between appointments. If clients notice a difference, they can take photos and videos and contact us for assistance. We ask them to rate the digital pulse out of 3, assess for health and lameness (or subtle change of posture/gait). If pulses are stronger then 1/3, and there is excessive heat in all 4 hooves, and a change of gait, we advise immediate veterinary assistance as this could indicate early onset of laminitis or other disease process.

We also recommend they book us for a consult too, ideally at the same time as the vet. Caught early and proper care administered by the team (vet, owner, hoof carer), and the right intervention chosen, horses can heal quickly and more serious trauma, injury, disease or infection prevented.

In this short video below you can literally see a raised digital pulse located where the vein, artery and nerve (the VAN apparatus) enters the hoof at the back of the lateral catilage. I considered it almost 2/3 in a TB with low scoring hooves of around 2/6 and the horses was under veterinary care.

If, like our clients, you want to learn a PRO-Active approach to hoof care and wish to prevent lameness in your horse, consider booking us for an Integrative Podiatry Consult, Educational Event, On-line Course or join our new VIP membership where you can learn top tips straight from an expert!


We take an integrative and holistic approach to whole horse hoof and body health. We appreciate the relationship between body, limb and hoof and seek to address imbalances while positively influencing appropriate static and dynamic hoof balance and biomechanics.

Beccy Smith BSc DAEP EBW – Independent Equine Podiatrist and CEO of Holistic Reflections CIC

Holistic Reflections CIC – a 100% non-profit organisation promoting wellbeing and resilience in people, horses and the environment - for the benefit of all.


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