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Also Known As

Gait interference


Brushing is a gait problem similar to over-reaching and forging since it results from an uncoordinated gait that causes the hooves to strike another limb when the horse is moving.

Brushing is often related to the conformation of the horse. Horses with narrow chests and/or horses that toe-out tend to have a lateral gait defect that causes the leg to swing sideways with the hoof or shoe hitting the inside of the opposite leg at or near the fetlock.

On the front limbs, brushing usually occurs from the knee to the hoof. On the hind legs, it usually occurs from the fetlock to the hoof. Brushing can cause injuries to the horse's limbs and often results in poor performance.


  • Pain, heat, or swelling at the site of impact
  • Loss of hair
  • Lacerations
  • Pulled shoes
  • Bone damage
  • Lameness


Brushing is usually caused by the conformation of the horse, but it can also be caused by poorly coordinated movement of the limbs. Younger, inexperienced horses and horses that are lazy, tired, or working on uneven ground sometimes develop brushing tendencies.


When a horse has a persistent brushing problem, a farrier should assess the characteristics of the horse or the horse's gait that lead to brushing. By trimming the hooves and selecting proper shoes, the condition may be greatly improved. In some cases, brushing boots, which are designed to protect the fetlock area, may be recommended.


Treatment includes attention to any lacerations or wounds created by the brushing gait. Since limb wounds are usually contaminated with dirt and bacteria, care should be taken to cleanse them thoroughly with properly diluted antibacterial agents, and, if necessary,a tetanus shot is given.

The farrier should trim the hooves properly and shoe the horse, taking into consideration the conformation of the horse and the best possible shoeing methods. Brushing boots are available from several reputable companies, and may be used to prevent injury to the horse's limbs.

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