Need info on Club Foot please - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 05-04-2008, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
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Need info on Club Foot please

What can anyone tell me about Club Foot?? My farrier mentioned that my colt may be club footed in his right front foot, but I wasn't home at the time so I didnt get to talk to him about it. I'm going to get the vet out this week and see if he really is club footed. But I really would like to know more about it and how you care for a horse with club foot, can anyone help?? I've been looking on the internet and haven't found anything particularly helpfull yet.

Thanks so much for any and all help,

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post #2 of 6 Old 05-04-2008, 10:34 PM
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The slope of the front face of hoof exceeds 60 degrees. Horse often has long, upright heels. May be from contracture of DDF (deep digital flexor tendon) that was not addressed at birth or developed from nutritional imbalances or trauma.
Fairly common, best to use horse in activities done in soft-footing & those that depend on strong hindquarter usage
Various degrees of angulation, from slight to very pronounced. Horses with obvious club feet land more on the toes, causing toe bruising or laminitis. The horse generally does poorly at prolonged exercise, especially if on hard or uneven terrain (eventing, trail riding).
Because the toe is easily bruised, the horse moves with a short, choppy stride, and may stumble. The horse is a poor jumping prospect due to trauma incurred on impact of landing.

Any another website (long)
Club foot, which may involve one or more of an affected horse's feet, is a flexion deformity caused by fixed contracture of one or several flexor tendons in the leg. The deep digital flexor tendon is usually involved; the superficial digital flexor tendon and suspensory ligaments may also participate in the deforming forces of club foot. When the foot and leg are in upright conformation, the foot axis, which normally averages about 45 degrees, will exceed 60 degrees.

If the club foot is diagnosed in a young horse, it is likely either congenital or the result of diet-related problems that affect limb growth. Older horses with club foot probably develop it in response to an injury or other painful condition. The affected horse avoids weight bearing on the painful limb. Disuse of the limb results in contracture of the flexor tendons, which produces the deformity.

A veterinarian should evaluate affected horses and make recommendations based on a physical exam and a lameness exam. A radiographic study is an important diagnostic tool; it is used to evaluate the bony deformity within the hoof wall. Horse owners should not attempt to diagnose or treat the condition without professional guidance.

Club foot may be acute or chronic. Acute cases are usually seen in younger horses. Horses with acute onset will present a heel that will not touch the ground although the hoof has a normal shape. Lameness usually results. Treatment for acute club foot includes short-term use of phenylbutazone and similar medications to relieve pain and inflammation sufficiently to permit weight bearing on the affected limb. When such conservative therapy fails, surgery to release tension in the inferior check ligament may be required.

Chronic club foot presents as an obvious contracture of the heel; the heel will also be excessively long and the front of the hoof will have a "dished in" appearance. Chronic cases are usually seen in older horses. The horse may or may not have walking difficulty or lameness. If the horse is not lame, efforts to maintain the natural shape and balance of the hoof should be taken. The hoof should not be trimmed to change the hoof angle as lameness may occur. If these measures fail to prevent lameness, or if lameness is already present, the inferior check ligament may need to be surgically released. In this case, follow-up care may involve substantial hoof trimming. Additionally or alternatively, toe extension shoes may be applied during the healing process to maintain the proper angular alignment of the hoof wall.

In severe cases, both acute and chronic, surgery in addition to inferior check ligament release may be necessary. The veterinary surgeon may perform a tenotomy, or surgical release, of one or more of the other tendons associated with the club foot.
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post #3 of 6 Old 05-05-2008, 11:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks alot Sonnywimps!

He's not limping at all, and he doesn't seem to be in any pain, so I hope hope hope that it's not Club foot. His frog is much higher then his other feet and he has a strange spot near the top left corner of his hoof, it's not a bruise, it looks like....I'm not sure how to describe it, it's like it's made out of the same stuff that makes up the frog. It's small and it's a different shape too . If I can get a picture of it I will. Like I said, I'm going to try to get our vet out and see what he says, fingers crossed!!

Thanks again for all of the info!
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post #4 of 6 Old 05-05-2008, 11:36 PM
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Keep in mind that there are also varying degrees of severity when it comes to club feet, and sometimes the conditions aren't quite as severe as the description Sonny posted. Plus, caught early enough a good farrier can help you out quite a bit. We have a school horse that's club footed that's jumped and showed most of his life and is now one of our beginner (non jumping) horses at 26. Sound, fat and sassy. His soundness honestly baffles me a little. His foot is bad enough that it looks noticably different then the others. At his age I would expect some kind of wear and tear. But sound as can be!
There's also a horse that came to our barn around 3 y/o with a minor club foot and is now jumping in the level 4 jumpers (I think 3"9?). Sound. Farrier's done an amazing job on both of them.
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post #5 of 6 Old 05-09-2008, 03:49 PM
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How old is the colt? Some foals are born a bit upright, but with lots of exercise on varying terrain,the foot will sort of grow out of it. More problems are cuased by keeping up young horses than by turning them out. Also, good trims that encourage the heels to contact the ground while keeping the toe short will go a long ways to prevent a lot of problems.

If your colt is over a year old, trims are even more important! Exercise is alway beneficial once you get the right trim going.

Sometimes though, one foot is a little more upright than the other. No big deal, it's probably more to do wtih the anatomy up higher in the body such as a shoulder. The hoof shape mirrors how it's used-with hooves, form follows function and a slightly more upright hoof may just be what your horse needs to be sound. Most horses have slightly mis-matched hooves, just as you likely wear a bigger ring on the hand that you use the most (right handed people have bigger right hands, viseversa for lefties)

Also, young foals tend to graze with the same foot forward as their necks don't quite reach the ground and always putting the same foot more forward will influence how it grows (form following function again) but will tend to grow out of this.

If it were a "true" club foot, you would know it and your farrier is likely just using the term "club" to mean more upright compared to the other foot. A true club is from severly tightened tendons and sometimes the foot even knuckles over completly. Yes, the hoof will grow more upright with this scenario. This is the club foot you don't want as it's a threat to soundness, but usually indicates poor nutrition or lack of exercise or combo thereof.
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post #6 of 6 Old 05-11-2008, 03:28 PM Thread Starter
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He's a year old, and he stays outside in the pasture with the other horses if that helps. My vet is coming out on Mon hopefully and I'll get to see what he says. Reading everything that everyone has said, I don't personaly don't think he does, he doesnt look like it to me, now I'm not a vet, farrier or even that knowladgeable about horse feet so I could be wrong. He does need his feet frimmed again though, when the farrier said that it had been his first trim.
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