As most of you know, I'm a farrier. I've been asked a time or two if I work on therapeutic cases. Actually, I do a lot of therapeutic work.
While always the most interesting cases, I rarely take photos due to time constraints involved when working these horses. Today, I made an exception and decided to capture some of my work for review.
I thought some of you may find this topic interesting and educational. I know I did.
A common congenital defect in newborn foals is called a flexoral laxity. Usually occurring in the hind limbs, the horse will appear "layed back" on the pasterns, it's toes pointed up and unable to load the bottom of the foot. Abrasion of the heel bulbs, under-run heels and other problems ensue.
Many of these babies will straighten up on their own in the first two months but some are too severe for mother nature to correct. That's when the vet/farrier team needs to step in.
This little girl was born on Easter morning, premature, various health problems including severe flexoral laxity in the forelimbs (somewhat rare).
I was asked to help so attended the horse today.
Here's the "before" photo.
Here she is after I completed installing a therapeutic package. Her toes are now on the ground where they belong. The heels of the "shoes" are extended by 50% the foot length, placed directly under the center of P1. This moved the total base of support back about 40%. Fetlock to ground distance increased by 25%. She can now walk and run. Time and exercise should see the flexoral muscle group develop and help her even more.
Here's how I built the package.
Shoes are cut out of 5/16" inflexible plastic. Heels extended about 1 1/2". The leather pads will be screwed on the bottom of the package to provide wear/protection and traction.
Screw holes are pre-drilled then any protruding tips are ground off flush with the foot surface of the shoes.
The leather and plastic shoe package is assembled to test fit and to "seat out" the screws to maximum depth in the leather.
Here's a side view of the package. The plastic shoe will be taped on the foot with a few spots of glue at the edge of the hoof wall to help hold things in place.
Preparing everything I need before going to the horse. Once you start, there's no time to run back to the trailer for supplies.
The plastic shoe with extended heels is placed on the foot with a few drops of glue to hold it in place. Elasticon tape is then used to secure the shoe in place, avoiding the soft tissues of the pastern. A foals skin is incredibly thin so we need to avoid abrasion.
Cotton Surgical batting is then packed against the back of the fetlock (not shown in this photos) and pushed against the top of the extended heels. This will be vetrapped in place and act to prevent the foal from pulling the shoes off with her hind toes.
With the shoe taped in place, the cotton batting was installed then the pastern loosely wrapped with vetrap to hold the cotton in place and protect the heels. All to avoid the foal tearing off the package when her hinds reach forward.
Final step is to attach the leather pad to the package with four screws. These screws go through the tape and the plastic shoe (not into the foot). Without this layer of leather, the horse would quickly wear through the tape that holds the plastic shoe on. The screw heads provide a bit of traction and will extend the life of the leather "sole".
Final result.... a happy girl that can walk, run and most important, exercise those flexor muscles.
The entire process took me 2 hours and 15 minutes. The foal was not sedated for this procedure.
I'll revisit this foal in two weeks and re-evaluate for changes in hoof growth, muscle development and any changes I need to make to the protocol.
Thought some of you might find this case interesting.