Need Help for Horse with Flat Feet - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 11 Old 10-22-2009, 04:00 PM Thread Starter
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Need Help for Horse with Flat Feet

My friend has a gelding with really flat feet. She's only had him for a little over a year and has all his vet records back to age five, but there's nothing in them that even remotely hints at previous laminitis or founder. He's a nine-year old QH Appx, and weighs about 1400 lbs. They aren't of the natural-horsekeeping school, so he wears a blanket if it's going to be 50 or cooler, he's in a stall overnight and turned out during the day, he wears shoes, he's fed prepared pellets and hay, etc. Since before they got him he's had a pretty bad crack in the front of one front hoof that goes 3/4 of the way up. I suggested their farrier rasp a perpindicular line at the top to prevent it from going any farther up, which he did a year ago. He has had flat feet since they got him, so they've kept him in shoes to protect his sole. I know that's not the best way to handle flat feet, but I don't know the right answer. They board at a large hunter-jumper barn, so they have limited options. I'd love to help them transition him to barefoot, but first they have to get some concavity in his soles. Can someone please tell me?
Thanks,
Robynne
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post #2 of 11 Old 10-22-2009, 04:16 PM
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Ironically, waiting until his feet are "ready" and concave, is like waiting to start chemo on a cancer patient until the cancer looks like it's going away. It just won't work that way.

The shoes are proabably making it worse, the suspension by the hoof wall will stress the lamina more, and allow the coffin bone to sink further into the hoof capsule, resulting in flat soles. Bar shoes and pads DO NOT reverse this. The only way is to relieve the walls from weight bearing, which you just can't do with shoes.

Then, boots and pads, to protect the soles and a really good trim to alleviate work load on the walls. For a while, the walls may actually need to be relieved of ALL weight bearing in places, and boots and pads will be ESSENTIAL. This will let the new wall growing down, to come in well attatched. Probabl in about 9-12 months, depending on how much the horse is exercised, the new wall will have reached the lower hoof capsule, and the soles will sort of "lift up" on their own. Until then, the hoof MUST be protected, or you will see major setbacks in the form of bruising and maybe even abscessing.

With a good pair of well-fitted boots, the horse can run/jump as before under saddle, and the boots can come off at night in the stall. This gives the horse the best of both worlds, protection and barefoot.

Good luck, I know when I start at a new stable, the English riders are the least likely to cotton to barefoot trims, at least at first. There is much tradition in the hunter/jumper/dressage world, well, in most equestrian aspects, actually, and it takes seeing to believe. It may well be very hard to convince your friend that to get the concavity, the shoes have to come off first.
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post #3 of 11 Old 10-22-2009, 07:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luvmytwh View Post
Since before they got him he's had a pretty bad crack in the front of one front hoof that goes 3/4 of the way up. I suggested their farrier rasp a perpindicular line at the top ....He has had flat feet since they got him, so they've kept him in shoes to protect his sole.

Firstly, what she said above.

Regarding the crack, this is an indication of undue pressure on the walls. It may also have come about because of lami/separation & perpetuated by infection. Treating the infection, ensuring diet & nutrition is good, and trimming to relieve the unhealthy forces on the walls is what is needed to allow it to grow out. Cutting lines above the crack can work(if the hoof is cut thru the entire wall) to stop that crack, but because it doesn't address the actual causes, it generally means the cut hoof may tear elsewhere, or it's only temporary. Also cutting through the entire hoof wall opens the foot up to further risk of infection & therefore damage.

Regarding shoes protecting his soles, they don't, unless he also has pads, for a start. But laminitis aside, shod horses are frequently flat footed, *because* the soles are taken out of commission. Therefore the walls are forced to support the entire horse. When a horse is effectively hanging from his laminae in this way, if the laminae are at all weak, the foot will 'drop' in the capsule. The sole is effectively 'bottoming out' to get some much needed support. What he needs is to be able to use his soles properly - to actually walk on the bottom of his feet, as he's evolved to. Then the soles & frogs can start to thicken & strengthen, and the walls can be relieved so the laminar connections can become strong. Obviously he's not in a position to do this without protection yet, and I agree with Barefoot that boots &/or pads are the best option.

Hoofrehab.com is one great site that should help you & your friend get educated on hoof function & principles necessary for soundness. She may be 'against a natural approach' and may have good reasons, but then again, it might be lack of knowledge about it, so perhaps you can encourage her to learn about it & then weigh up the pros & cons to come to an informed decision.
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post #4 of 11 Old 10-23-2009, 12:04 AM
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Flat is not always bad. Pull the shoes, turn him out more, stop the feed, and add a broad-spectrum vitamin. With the right trimming (and boots if he's sore without shoes), his feet should improve and develop their own natural concavity.

My Anglo has been barefoot his whole life (he's 10 now). He gets trimmed regularly and has feet like iron. They have very little concavity. He does just fine, even trail riding on big rocks. Same with my 4yr old Haflinger. BIG dinner plate drafty feet, with walls thateven chip some (working on that!), and flat soles. He's as sound as can be, though we haven't hit the trails on him yet.

If they can't change his living arrangements and feeding, then there's not much that can be done (that I know of). Stalled and grained horses do not always do well barefoot.
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post #5 of 11 Old 10-23-2009, 12:14 AM
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"Stalled and grained horses do not always do well barefoot."
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Grain has little to do with feet, unless its too much or poor quality. Most horses need grain when they don't have access to really good quailty hay or grass. I know plenty of "stalled" horses who are fine barefoot. But of course more turnout always helps with the mechanics/ bloodflow of a hoof.
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post #6 of 11 Old 10-23-2009, 12:43 AM
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So let me rephrase...

IME, Stalled and grained horses do not always do well barefoot.

And yes, diet does effect feet. Grain and high starch horse feeds are not conducive to improving foot condition or transitioning feet with "issues" from shod to barefoot.
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post #7 of 11 Old 10-23-2009, 01:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luvs2ride1979 View Post
Flat is not always bad. ....
My Anglo has been barefoot his whole life (he's 10 now). He gets trimmed regularly and has feet like iron. They have very little concavity.
Agreed. There is flat & there is flat. However, I can't recall ever seeing *healthily* flat feet on a shod horse. The difference is generally that horses such as your own may have flat soles because they have retained sole in the middle, perhaps due to working mainly on hard, reasonably smooth ground, that in different environment 'should' have exfoliated. You may find that your horses have more concavity than it first appears, just a lot of extra sole. If the colateral grooves(junction of frog & sole) are a fair bit deeper than the rest of the sole, this is good.

However, if the horse has shallow colateral grooves - say less than 3/4" from the ground surface, then the flatness is generally an indication that the sole is very thin around the outsides of the coffin bone and the foot may have 'dropped' in the capsule.
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post #8 of 11 Old 10-23-2009, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sillybunny11486 View Post
"Stalled and grained horses do not always do well barefoot."
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Grain has little to do with feet, unless its too much or poor quality. Most horses need grain when they don't have access to really good quailty hay or grass. I know plenty of "stalled" horses who are fine barefoot. But of course more turnout always helps with the mechanics/ bloodflow of a hoof.
It's also my opinion that grain is not necessary for most horses. A good ration balancer is much more productive the the health of a horse. There are more options, other than grain, available than in the past. Beet Pulp, Alfalfa pellets or cubes, etc. Some horses do better with grain, of course. Those horses who work hard often benefit from it as they expend more calories than they can take in. Few horses in today's world are working the way they did before machinery took over.

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post #9 of 11 Old 10-25-2009, 07:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sillybunny11486 View Post
grain has little to do with feet, unless its too much or poor quality. Most horses need grain when they don't have access to really good quailty hay or grass.
That is not correct. Grain, because of the fact that it is hard to digest for a horse, and full of starch, Can very much effect feet, by causing or contributing to laminitis. It doesn't necessarily cause problems, but frequently does, especially in *the manner* it is fed - eg. Large, infrequent meals of only a few or less times per day.

Also just because a horse may not have enough hay or grazing, doesn't mean that should be substituted with grain. It's almost like saying if you don't have enough fruit & vegies, you need to eat more chocolate. Even if a horse receives adequate hay/grazing & needs more calories, there are generally better alternatives to grain.

Like I said tho, *generally*, & grain isn't *necessarily* a problem, but you need to understand how a horse's digestive system works & what problems can be caused by incorrect feeding before considering what & also *how* you feed.
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post #10 of 11 Old 10-29-2009, 02:24 PM
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Loosie,
Just wanted to say that I love the comparison of fruits/veggies/more chocloate! Very good comparison!
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