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ClaudiaD 03-21-2013 12:12 AM

Can a horse...
Can a horse with a clubbed foot do endurance racing, given the hooves were trimmed and/or shod?

Here are some pictures of my horse's feet. They were taken right before he was trimmed.
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cowgirl4753 03-21-2013 12:17 AM

My phone won't let me copy and paste your link, but a friend of mine had a gelding with a noticeable front clubbed foot, and as long as he was trimmed and shod properly she never had any issues. She is actually competing pre st. George dressage which is just under grand prix. And he is holding up quite well and they are doing fabulous!
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toto 03-21-2013 12:22 AM

Depends on the severity of the club-- i would talk to the farrier about it-- that right front is quite a bit different from the left.. it would be like me jumping in a tennis-shoe, and a stiletto.

gottatrot 03-21-2013 11:44 AM

Yes. My horse once had a foot like that and did endurance just fine. Often horses with club feet are not noticeably lame. You only will notice when the foot is corrected that they are much more sound, and things you thought were unrelated such as difficulty picking up that lead or leaning in when cantering on that club side go away. However, the kindest thing for your horse is to correct the club foot.
This foot used to look just like yours. That was until I did a lot of research on club feet and found out how to correct them. It often does not work when people try to fix these for several reasons. First, the bars are jammed up inside the foot as in this picture:
If you took your horse's frog off, this is what you would see. Bars growing up inside. This makes it painful for the horse to stand on the foot, so you can't just trim the hoof wall down around the heels. You have to trim the bars every two weeks (sometimes slightly below the sole level) and slowly let them grow out from inside the hoof. The frog grows up tall and skinny and needs trimming down as the heels come down also.

The sole compacts in the heels clear down to the ground also, so it looks "live" and like you can't take it out. Those tall bars hold it in like a vise. But you have to slowly take the foot down about every two weeks by trimming a little bit of sole out with the heel wall and bars (about 1/4 inch at a time).

Because the heel has been so long, the horse will have weaker muscles on the back of the leg (the ones that push the heel down). So the lowering has to be done gradually to let those muscles gain strength and stretch as the heel comes down. It would be like if you wore high heels for a year every day and then went barefoot. Your calf muscle would have shortened, and it would hurt to walk flat on the ground until that muscle stretched out again.

Finally, you can read all about the properties of tendons online if you are concerned about the Deep Digital Flexor Tendon being "contracted." Don't read farrier sites, read medical sites and you will discover that this is a myth. Tendons cannot contract, they can only stretch (1-2 inches) and cutting the check ligament is a short cut to waiting for the muscles in the legs to gradually strengthen and lower the heel rather than causing it to drop because the ligament was cut.

trailhorserider 03-21-2013 04:15 PM


Originally Posted by gottatrot (Post 1979290)
However, the kindest thing for your horse is to correct the club foot.

I didn't think you were supposed to correct a club foot (if it is the horse's natural conformation).

So, if it were me, I would research the heck out of club feet before I try to "correct" anything. Especially if the horse is sound.

Corporal 03-21-2013 04:22 PM

Agreed. My 6yo KMH gelding's LF foot looks clubby, but he has never pulled up lame, on it or the other 3 feet. When he was 3 we took him on a trail riding vacation and one ride was 6-hrs (w/1hr lunch) covering many miles at the typical fast amble, and never had a problem. He gets turnout, over 3 acres, almost every day and never trips or takes a wrong step even with all of the nonsense with his BFF, my 6yo QH.
A club foot, IMO, affects more subtle movements in like, Dressage, or Reining. As long as your horse is sound and maintains soundness in the work necessary to muscle him up, I wouldn't worry about it.
Speaking of turnout, THIS is the stretching that enables your horse to be athletic. Unfortunately, horses stalled for lengthy periods get tight in their muscles and can experience difficulties, some of which could be attributed to the hoof, if it resembles my horse's, that is, clubby.

gottatrot 03-21-2013 07:01 PM


Originally Posted by trailhorserider (Post 1981802)
I didn't think you were supposed to correct a club foot (if it is the horse's natural conformation).

So, if it were me, I would research the heck out of club feet before I try to "correct" anything. Especially if the horse is sound.

We like to blame lots of things on a horse's "natural conformation" but most club feet are developed later in life and do not even stem from foalhood. Many club feet that are seen in foals even are from muscle weakness issues and if the foals receive enough exercise on hard ground and proper trimming, the issue will correct itself. My horse had her club foot for at least 12 years since that is how long I've had her. Yet fixing it slowly did not cause any lameness issues or obvious pain, and conversely she started enjoying going out on trail rides rather than appearing to be lazy and having to be pushed to go.

I have two other friends that also fixed their club feet with great results.

Of course a person has to decide for themself, but I thought the same way for many years because of what people told me..."it cannot or should not be corrected." I heard it was because that was how my horse stood while grazing. Yet now that my horse's heel does not hurt she no longer stands with the club far underneath her while grazing in turnout.

I also heard it was because the club foot's shoulder was higher, but that is like saying one of your legs is shorter than the other because you are standing with one foot in a tennis shoe and one in a high heeled pump.

What really brought it home to me was seeing how what I thought was sound was not sound at all for my horse. She no longer has issues with picking up the left lead. Also as the foot was trimmed I discovered lots of old bruising that grew down from inside the hoof wall, which showed me that even though my horse never limped there was bleeding inside the hoof from its incorrect form.

ClaudiaD 03-23-2013 01:08 PM

Thanks for all the replies. I do want to say that I have also been told that you can't/shouldn't fix a club foot. Last year I had a new fairer come and trim my horse and he somehow didn't notice that my horse has a club foot and trimmed him like any other horse and even with that dramatic difference in the heel my horse was never lame or sore. (btw that farier no longer trims my horse) My reason for making this thread was because my friend told me that because my horse has a club foot he would easily get hurt. But I wanted to get other opinions because my horse has never been lame from his club foot. Thanks again for the replies
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