Rehabbing the Club Foot

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by Mcdreamer, Jul 15, 2018.

  1. Mcdreamer

    Mcdreamer Senior Member

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    Alright hoof gurus. Henry is arriving next weekend so it's time to get super serious about securing a good farrier for his club foot.

    Looking for advice from farriers about rehabbing the club foot (preferably barefoot but if a hoof needs a shoe, it needs a shoe). What do you recommend? What are the steps to maintaining soundness? How do you decide if the horse can go barefoot or needs shoes or needs boots?

    Looking for advice from owners with club footed horses. What has your experience been? Are club feet the end of the world? Big deal? Medium deal?

    My goal for henry is to do trail riding. No jumping or ring work. Just trails. He's only 5 years old--is there still time to make a difference in his hoof?

    Also, these balance x-rays are from 2 years ago when I first acquired Henry in my program. I changed farriers pretty quickly to someone who could do a much better trim. But still good to see the coffin bone rotations.
     

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  2. rhinebeck

    rhinebeck Senior Member

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    Generally it’s not to change the shape but keep it balanced - it’s not able to be changed and changing it may be detrimental but keeping it balanced in its own world would be best.

    ELPO guides are great - if you can get them down to the guide and he needs more you can add boots or shoes.

    Boots or shoes highly depends on preference - some say shoes are the end all but I like you believe if needed to use them. Only after hooves have been properly balanced and something is still missing.

    Can you get good hoof photos? They will be helpful in helping you.
     
  3. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    Are you sure that's a club foot?

    If it is, you're not supposed to try and reshape it at this point, you're suppose to try to coexist with it. A good farrier won't tell you he'll make it disappear.
     
  4. meljean

    meljean Senior Member

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    From past experience, we had foal that developed it as yearling, was taken to Auburn and operated on, which made it better for a time but still impacted horse, and worsened.

    Maybe someone on here has something they have seen change a club foot enough so horse was ridable. But from what I have seen with them, riding for much of any length of time isn't feasible.
     
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  5. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    I have seen two horses with the same degree and severity of club foot, visually the two feet were completely identical, and yet, one completely sound and one couldn't even hobble around a pasture. You have to see what's going on inside there, and have a good vet and a good farrier who work together and know what to do.

    Usually a youngster born with a club foot that is well-maintained is sound, that means there is a LITTLE one can do from very early on, if done very carefully and gradually, very very slowly, one tiny bit at a time, the farrier has to keep a lot in hand, to stretch the tendons and ligaments involved very very slightly in a safe way very young in life while they are still malleable.

    It gets to a certain point and that's where you stop. The experienced vet and farrier know how far to change that foot in a baby, and when to stop, and then how to maintain that foot the rest of the horse's life.

    It's totally different when the horse ACQUIRES the club foot because he takes weight off the foot for months and months because it is injured or diseased. In THAT case the disease process is likely to continue and to worsen.

    So really we have several cases:
    1. The animal is born with it and it is appropriately addressed and maintained
    2. The animal is born with it and it is NOT appropriately dressed nor maintained
    3. It is acquired later in life due to disease or injury of the foot, the animal puts more weight on the other foot and the injured one starts to be more and more upright, the foot bearing more weight becomes flatter and flatter, if it is let go to this point, the disease process that started the whole thing is very advanced by the time you see one foot more upright and the other starting to flatten out
    4. The foot is deformed due to some other reason than a club foot, like laminitis
     
  6. Mcdreamer

    Mcdreamer Senior Member

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    Some of you have seen these before. These were taken in early spring (as evidenced by the fuzz).
    He has never been lame in the 2 years I've had him. He's been shod up front and rarely loses his shoe. He's a tiny footed guy--very petite all around. I have no idea if he was born club-footed or developed it, foundered, etc. Would be nice to know!
    henryhoof1.jpeg henryhoof3.jpeg henryhoof4.jpeg
     
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  7. Mcdreamer

    Mcdreamer Senior Member

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    Ps my goal is not to make it disappear. My goal is to gather knowledge to make the best decision for this horse.
     
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  8. Arem

    Arem Senior Member

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    If that’s what his feet look like now, they’re too long/tall in both heel and toe. Unfortunately, that’s more common than not. His shoes are also too small and set too forward, leaving his heels unsupported. He has flaring, which occurred when feet are too long.

    Now that I’ve totally ragged on his feet....:oops:

    I would highly recommend checking to see if there any ELPO farriers in your area
    ELPO Membership List - Farriers

    If that’s not an option, I highly recommend studying the ELPO’s resources to get an understanding of the hoof and how it works. Hopefully, armed with that information, finding a decent non-Elpo farrier will be doable.

    Maintenance of his feet and ensuring long term soundness will be making sure that those feet stay impeccably balanced. Doing that got me several sound years out of my clubfooted horse who was never supposed to be sound again (diagnosed Navicular in her club foot). Unfortunately, we struggle now, but for her the damage was already done by the time we got her feet right. The right shoes would probably help, but the closest farriers I’d trust to do the right kind of job are all over 3 hours away. Had one that came around for a while, but he moved several states away.
     
  9. Kristal H

    Kristal H Senior Member

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    See if you can find a good vet podiatrist they are both a vet and farrier.

    Depending on the exam you have a few options.

    1. Cut the check ligaments, take the heel down and go through several mints if rehab. This is the only method that gives you a chance of obtains a fairly normal hoof. I have seen this work well on several.... but excellent after care for a couple of months is crucial.

    2. Shoe the club foot this is usually done by taking the heel down as low as possible but then inserting a wedge pad with a high enough degree so that the horse can stand placing weight on the heel. The toe is also rolled back to allow easier break over. This method allows the frog to function. I’ve seen many horses work and move well with this set up.

    3. Barefoot trimming about every 4 weeks. If the horse is barefoot they continue to wear the toe down and grow more heel so you have to constantly rebalance the foot. Again after a trim the horse needs to be able to stand comfortably with the heel down.
     
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  10. LoveTrail

    LoveTrail Senior Member

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    I had a double club footed horse that I treated like number three until I put him in reining training at age seven. Worked really well for him. Then went back to barefoot when he was for sale at age nine. I think he still is at age 18 though now a pasture horse. He was also bench kneed, contracted heels and toed in a bit and still was able to continue as a show horse and then IEA horse to age 17 when he hurt his stifle.
     
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