I received this e-mail along with the photos on 2-18-07...The reply is below the photos...
Got a video we had taken when a trainer started working with Deacon. She got her camera and took
pictures of the TV screen...they aren't too bad! She said on the video the Farrier said that the heels need
to grow and that is why the shoe extends beyond the back of the foot. The hoof was to grow in to meet it.
This band was on the other hoof too. What do you think caused that band? I seem to recall asking about
it and was told it was nothing to worry about or something like that.....
His hoof is growing in at a steeper angle and where the ring stops is where the lamina isn't tightly connected..
We refer to this as a broken forward axis. See...what is growing from the coronet band is the hoof the horse
wants-he's trying to grow a well connected wall to support his weight. Unnatural forces and his weight
combined with his movement (or lack there of) distorts the hoof wall and consequently destroys the support
and function of the hoof. In this case Deacon likely had contracting tendons..but why? .I added on later about
heel height...typically a heel is 3-5cm when fully transitioned with an inch thick sole...please see the wild hoof
model and compare to the fully transitioned hooves seen here...we trim to natures guidelines....
My reply was...
So what can you do for club feet???
This is Deacon. He's a beautiful MO Fox Trotter with a left
front club foot. Jane contacted me because he had a huge
dish in his hooves and couldn't gait. She had owned Deacon
for years and knew he USED to gait...so she continually
asked the farrier why do his feet look like that? The answer
was always the same...none. I began working on Deacon in
Sept. of 06 and took photos and angles every other trim. It
was observed that is he was trimmed more than two degrees
lower than the Healing Angle he would get warm on the
medial plane. He reportedly gaited better when the hooves
were trimmed to equal angles but different heel heights. We
allowed the fourth dimensional changes to occur over 1.5
years and have concluded that no, the model trim will not
"fix" a club foot, but it will provide the horse with optimal
comfort and abilities. The true cause of his particular case
are unknown, but this is a common problem for many horses.
I've quoted some of our required information at the bottom of
this page to help others with young foals. Author James R.
Rooney D.V.M. who wrote The Lame Horse speaks clearly
on the subject of proper growth and feeding regimes. If you
desire further information on club feet please e-mail me.
Front hooves Dec. 07
Clinical signs-The onset is almost invariably insidious and usually involves only one foreleg. The problem is
not seen in the hind leg. The horseman may notice that one pastern seems "just a tad" more upright than the
other. With time the more upright stance becomes more and more obvious. Eventually, without intervention,
the pastern virtually lines up with the cannon bone-an extremely straight leg-and then buckles forward at the
fetlock. Often, but not always, one of the first signs to be noticed is a snapping or a popping back and forth of
the digit of the affected leg when the animal is standing still. This is gross evidence of instability of the leg.
Pathogenesis-While I should love to go into this in great mechanical detail, I shall be circumspect. Basically,
what is happening is the young horse is gaining weight at a rapid rate, faster than the horn of the hoof wall is
maturing and strengthening. That causes the hoof to flatten out more under load than it should, leading to a
small hoof angle as measured at the toe. The effect is the same as cutting or rasping away at the heels.
lowering the hoof angle. In order to maintain equilibrium of movements around both the coffin and fetlock
joints, the smaller hoof angle leads to an upward movement of the pastern-toward the upright pastern
configuration. In effect, as the hoof "squashes" down, the deep flexor tendon tightens; for equilibrium at the
fetlock the superficial tendon and the suspensory ligament both shorten. With continued squashing, the
process continues with all three tendons- the superficial and deep flexor and the suspensory- eventually
shortening. It is clear that as they shorten the pastern moves up, and we have so-called superficial flexor
Prevention and Treatment-This condition is, in my view, clearly related to the rate of gain of weight of the
growing horse together with the rate of maturation of the horn of the hoof wall. Now and again we see full
siblings in successive years contract in this manner, and one must think of a genetically related slower than
normal rate of maturation and strengthening of the hoof wall. But also...The major factor, however, or at least
the factor which man can control, is rate of gain of weight. Sales yearlings are heavily fed and that leads to
epiphysitis, osteochondrosis, and superficial flexor contracture (for want of a better name). Experiments
have shown that it is not just total weight that is a factor, but the rate at which that weight is gained. The usual
animal gains weight at a uniformly logarithmic manner. The animal which will contract....that is, it gains weight
slowly for a while and then suddenly has a "growth spurt." It is during and after this growth spurt that the
contracture appears. Why? Simply because the hoof wall strengthening and stiffening had been keeping up
with the weight gain until suddenly the weight remarkably increases. and there is a lag before the
strengthening of the hoof wall can catch up. This will be aggravated, of course, of the hoof is genetically not
as stiff and strong as it should be.
Prevention, then, seems reasonably obvious. Weigh the young horses, at least monthly, and plot their
weights. As soon as one sees a growth spurt starting, cut back on the feed, specifically the concentrates and
grain. Treatment involves the same strategy. If the contracture has already appeared, cut the horse back to
grass rations only and preferably the poorest, shortest pasture you have. He will cry in pain and bewilderment
but that is better than crontracture and crippling. The animal will pick up growth and finish up as the genetic
pg. 76 The Lame Horse James R. Rooney, D.V.M.
Deacon Sept. o6
Deacon Sept. 07
get your copy of
The Lame Horse