Preface| Volume 37, ISSUE 3, Pix-x, December 2021

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Published:October 18, 2021DOI:
      This issue of Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice builds on the foundation started in earlier issues of Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice that were topical on laminitis. This issue is an expanded and thoroughly updated issue that provides our fellow colleagues with a comprehensive and thorough resource for the “common” and “less common” problems of the equine foot and not just focused on laminitis. The information is the most exhaustive of any of the previous publications on the equine foot, while offering a point-by-point discussion of best practices when caring for the foot. Our goal, as a group, was to provide the most current, in-depth information for effectively managing the important clinical foot problems in the horse along with creating the framework in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, nutrition, endocrinology, foot mechanics, and imaging, as well as recommendations and treatment options. The format is like other Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice issues and includes many illustrations, protocols, procedures, and treatments, clearly differentiating it from earlier publications on laminitis.
      I recognize that there is more than one way to treat an equine foot problem, to diagnose a foot problem, or to perform a procedure, and to that extent this text is not a maxim but the compilation of experienced clinicians from both academia and private practice writing about these problems of the horse, and treatments in their area of expertise. There are 11 chapters, with every part the most current information on the topic and comprising feedback from our colleagues and friends who regularly treat the equine species.
      Here are some of the highlights of this Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice issue:
      • The first several chapters develop the important framework in anatomy, physiology, pain management, and imaging of the foot. I believe you will find the information comprehensive, covering the complex foot anatomy, consisting of multiple other interconnected systems: integument, musculoskeletal, nervous, and cardiovascular, as examples of the obvious groups. Appropriate management of the pain associated with the pathology and mechanics of the foot is too commonly the one factor that tips the scale toward humane destruction, recognizing that foot pathology, and especially laminitis, with a rapid onset and a slow recovery, would have a better outcome if we could “buy the time” for therapeutic remediation.
      • Tables and figures are included in this issue for a better understanding of the topic and to aid in illustrating key points.
      • Imaging has taken on a whole new role now that we have adapted and perfected the technologies in computed tomography, MRI, nuclear scintigraphy (bone scans), ultrasonography, digital radiography, and more recently, PET. These imaging technologies have improved our abilities, as clinicians, to diagnose problems sooner, operate better, and improve treatment options and outcome by having a clearer diagnosis.
      • There is an old saying among horsemen, “No foot, no horse.” Horses are particularly delicate animals, considering their size and strength. Four willowy legs and various sized hooves that bear the horse’s full weight of several hundred to over 1000 kg. The understanding of foot mechanics has made important advances with new materials, techniques, and preventive procedures that support the injured and diseased foot during healing.
      • In addition to supporting the foot mechanically, we need to be sure we are feeding the foot for best health and “durability,” understand the underlying causes for example, equine metabolic syndrome, SIRS, and support limb laminitis, and are prepared to prevent and treat the foot appropriately using “best”-in-class cryotherapy methods.
      • And finally, recognizing the many foot problems affecting the horse that need to be considered in our differential diagnosis improves our ability to enhance the prognosis and make us better clinicians.
      Thank you to my colleague and friend, Dr Tom Divers, Consulting Editor, for the invitation and opportunity to serve as the Guest Editor and contributing author for this issue of Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice, and to my colleagues and friends, who so generously afforded their time and expertise in advancing our understanding of the equine foot as contributing authors.