Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Bethel, Ohio USA
• Horses: 0
The treatment protocol is correct but may benefit from a few changes.
First, the casting should allow a more correct hoof/pastern angle from the fetlock joint down. This would allow more correct alignment of the proximal interphalangeal joint, the pastern joint and the distal interphalangeal joint. This change would also allow engagement of the entire hoof. The current alignment places all the animals load on the anterior portion of the foot. That position could compromise the vascular bed of the foot. Radiographs of the fetlock joint would help define the correct amount of "bend" needed in the cast.
Next, I would not cast beyond the proximal insertion point of the deep digital flexor tendon. While it is desirable to stabilize the skeletal structure from the carpus down, I would want the animal to still be able to utilize the flexor muscle group so as to avoid atrophy. The current cast (forelimbs) extends to the proximal point of the radius, preventing full use of the flexor muscle group and it's attachment to the flexor tendon (ddft).
Your farrier may have already tried, but I would start with a supportive cast that extends from the coronary to just below the carpus joint. If that does not provide enough stabilization, then the cast could be extended to include the carpus (knee).
In my view, the trick is to stabilize the tendonous connections distal to the muscles while still allowing normal muscle contraction and avoiding secondary problems with atrophy. Providing a supported "bend" at the fetlock provides additional ground support at the hoof. In the end, you're hoping for bone growth (length) to "catch up" to overly lax tendons. Increasing muscle strength (free movement) should also help.
The cast may need an internal reinforcing brace to accomplish the bend at the fetlock. A lightweight spring steel could be used. A polymer material would probably be better.
While I understand that some of the terms used may not be familiar to you, your farrier/veterinarian will understand the content and may benefit from some of the thoughts.
Best luck and, as always,