A hoof tester is used to determine the location of a painful area in the foot of a lame horse and is an important tool for veterinarians. It is more specific than tapping the hoof with a hammer. A hoof tester may be used to locate bruised or punctured areas of the foot, or to diagnose foot bone diseases or injuries. Hoof testers are commonly used for basic diagnosis when abscesses, navicular disease or laminitis are suspected. Radiographs and ultrasounds may be used in further diagnostic work-ups.
To test for a foot problem, place the end of one jaw on the suspected area and the other on the outside of the wall, and exert pressure in that area by closing the handles. The horse's reaction to the pressure in that area is the basis for the diagnosis of lameness. A sound hoof should be compared to the lame one to determine each individual horse's response to pain.