Friday, November 14, 2014

Am I dealing with a Club Foot

Email: I have a question.

The enclosed picture is the one of the right front of a horse I am trimming for the first time. The photograph is before the trim, the horse is 3.5 years old.
The previous farrier has told the owner that the horse has a club foot.
I do not think so. I have drawn two blue lines along the growth rings, and, since they are not parallel, I have concluded, on the basis of 1 cm growth per month approximately, that it has began to look like a club foot approximately six months ago. The frog is very weak. When the frog reaches a better state after appropriate treatments, combined with correct balance and enough stimulus, it should not be like a club foot, should it?

My response:
Conventional veterinary medicine defines a club foot as a foot that presents a 5 degree higher angle than its mate. What you are dealing with is a hoof that has undergone conformational change of its ungular cartilages. Observe the coronary band from the toe to the heels, and you will see that the ungular cartilages have elongated at the heel bulbs resulting in a foundation that presents upright heels. The coronary band should not present a rise at the heels or at the points indicated by the white arrows. This conformation is likely the result of improper balance and with all probability chronic mild equine digital elastosis. An x-ray would reveal that the internal arch (internal foot) has rotated.

You address this type of foot by trimming to the live sole plane. For those readers that do not understand the term live sole plane, balance is achieved by balancing the hoof capsule to a plane represented by a plane about the axis of the foot. Your objective is to establish dynamic load of the coronary band for the conformation presented. This helps in preventing further change in the conformation of the supporting foundations of the caudal foot (Ungular Cartilages). Be watchful of any changes in coronary band conformation in the caudal foot, as this can be a good indicator as to how the horse responds to the balance you apply.
Going into the winter is a good time to work on this type of foot, as you will have ample time to establish correct balance and develop healthy structure, before entering into the season that sees increased occurrences of acute EDE/Laminitis (spring).  It is very likely that this type of foot shows bruising within the white line or solar horn distal to P3.

I hope this helps, and confirms your observations.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Break Over break down, the Toe

This post is to offer insight on a topic that comes up frequently on Facebook and so many other on-line forums. The toe of the horse and the discussions concerning break-over fascinate me. The most recent post to catch my eye was seen on a popular farrier’s group on Facebook. The farrier was asking why some farriers chose to set the shoe back, leaving in their opinion too much toe exposed forward of the shoe. The question was harmless enough, but because there were so many conflicting opinions the thread became ugly quickly.  How you define break-over and what your take is on toe function is what will ultimately form your opinion.

I spent some time surfing other blogs and forums attempting to get a general consensus of how farriers at large determine break-over.  Yes, I said attempted. There is no general consensus. Oh yes there are the self-proclaimed bibles of horseshoeing that some insist are gospel, but having followed their input it became clear that most practicing farriers view published text on break-over as; how should I put this “more like guidelines”. This is perhaps best given that the only thing the experts can agree on is that the foot needs to be in balance