Club Foot Prone to Leg Lameness?
I have a fairly simple question...
This last March I got my dream horse, Gypsy. Got her very cheap as a green broke purebred 2007 Quarter Horse mare (I'm working on getting her registered). Absolutely stunning girl, she's just got one flaw; her front right hoof is clubbed.
According to her previous owners, she has never been lame. Even with the infrequent trimmings she'd received while in their care.
She hasn't shown any signs of lameness whatsoever so I didn't worry much about it. But this summer we are both going into some training (horsey-boot camp!) for a future job possibility and we're going to be riding about 4x a week for six to eight hours on trail rides. Farrier says her hooves should be okay, just put shoes on her. OK, I can do that. I'm not so much worried about hoof lameness anymore but LEG LAMENESS.
Because of the angle a clubbed foot is set at, can it cause leg damage under arena work and trail work?
If you make sure her angles are appropriate for the angle of the coffin bone, she shouldn't be any more prone to injury than any other horse.
I have a 2 year old that also has a club foot (right front as well). She hasnt started hard work yet, but I've been up my farrier's and vet's ass about it and they both tell me it most likely will not cause an issue, but it is a possibility.
I dont know specifically about it causing damage to the leg, but I would assume they would be more prone to strain or injury.
I would find a "corrective farrier" that deals specifically with that kind of issue. Ask your vet to recommend one. I am no expert but from my experience with my own horse's club foot, that heel could come down a bit more.
OH - and shes beautiful :) Congrats on getting your dream horse.
If you are shoeing her, be very particular about the farrier, and make sure her knees are even after the shoe job. Watch the LF does not collapse and the toes run away. As well plan on a 4 week shoe schedule to keep the legs at the same height. Personally, on a horse with drastically uneven fronts, I'd recommend hoof boots first. Shoes will tend to underrun the low foot and keep the heel on the high foot too constricted.
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I rode a horse a few years ago that had quite a bad club foot, he was an older boy but had never been unsound on it thanks to very good corrective shoeing
The only thing that I found - which was also pointed out to me by the owner was that when he cantered on that one rein he actually felt more comfortable when he was on the wrong lead than when he was on the right one
Firstly, while those pics aren't great, it looks like it's probably not too bad. Also if well managed - & often even when not - if you're not wanting to compete in high grades with the horse, it's not usually a huge issue. That said...
'Club foot' can be caused by a variety of things & generally it's a body issue too - tho that may be a 'chicken or egg' thing. As such, it's not a good idea to try to 'fix' it with hoof care alone. I would not be trimming those high heels down to 'ideal' parameters any more than I'd standing the other one up on high heels to match.... at least without good bodywork support & very gradually. As a basic rule, I'd be just trimming it to close to sole plane, as per the other one. If she's been clubby forever or for a long time, the sole plane will be lower on that foot.
Especially as she's still young, I'd get a good veterinary chiro to check her out. It could be that something's out in her wither or some such, that can be fixed. He may also give you exercises for her, to help stretch that leg. Having her graze on hills, long grass, and putting her hay/feed at around knee level can also be helpful, so she doesn't have to go one leg forward, one back to reach the ground - one common reason for club foot & horses like us are usually one-sided.
Now, assuming she 'needs' to stay clubfooted ever after... of course significant imbalance is going to affect her body.... assuming affects aren't already there & caused her hoof imbalance. It can get worse with age too, if it's not well managed. However, if you're not wanting to turn her into an elite athlete, it's probably not likely to be a big deal for her.
Hoof damage is another thing though. Because of the angle, P3 is pointing into the ground & the horse is landing toe first, which will put more pressure on the sole, dorsal wall and navicular region, for eg. Damage to the laminae & angle of the foot can essentially 'founder' the horse. The heels & rest of the caudal hoof, being 'jacked up' will not be getting any good stimulation so will remain weak & non-functional. So I would be ensuring I kept her well & frequently trimmed, to keep the toe from running forward, the heels from overgrowing any more. I'd probably be padding the toe sole for protection and also under the frog (*not under heel buttresses*) for support, for work. Because there is already excessive force on the foot & joints & because she's still very young, I'd be reluctant to shoe - this tends to have immediate palliative results, but the peripheral loading & extra concussion will cause further damage. I'd use boots or such where needed.
The club foot should be properly trimmed and a wedge added if needed to level up and balance the existing structure. Anabel is correct, her body needs to be level after the shoe job even tho her feet will likely not match at all. So long as the foot is properly trimmed and shod she should be fine. I would not hesitate to shoe if I had a good farrier. Club feet tend to be rather thin soled at the toe and can be hard to boot as well.
Are clubbed feet trimmed to functional sole? Or is there another way to tell how the hoof should be trimmed?
I have an 11 year old horse with similar foot conformation that says it's not a problem assuming it's trimmed properly. Anabel is right about the knees being even and keeping the toe on the low foot in check. If your farrier tries to make the feet match, run far far away and find one who understands the proper trimming of clubs.
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