Club foot

I purchased a 4 month old Andalusian filly back in June. I was able to bring her home on July 31st after she had been weaned and I finished building my barn. Four days before the farrior was scheduled to come ...I purchased a 4 month old Andalusian filly back in June. I was able to bring her home on July 31st after she had been weaned and I finished building my barn. Four days before the farrior was scheduled to come ...

Story originally posted by: Michael Lowder, DVM, MS

Dear Dr. Lowder,

I purchased a 4 month old Andalusian filly back in June. I was able to bring her home on July 31st after she had been weaned and I finished building my barn. Four days before the farrior was scheduled to come out and trim her (it would have been 8 weeks since her last trimming) my vet came out to give her her vacciantions. He said her left front was clubbed and immediately recommended surgery to have the inferior check ligament cut.

I went ahead and had her trimmed four days later and when I saw a marked improvement called to tell the vet. In the meantime I tried to read everything I could get my hands on about club feet in horses and there is speculation that it is hereditary. I also asked him to take x-rays to make sure. The x-rays still showed the club foot condition not only on the left but also the right front; which I have read is very rare.

We then made another appointment for both the vet and farrior to work together to get both front feet trimmed perfectly level and lower her heels as much as possible. Both of her front feet look really good and both vet and farrior will return in about two weeks to trim her again and take another set of x-rays to determine if she is still club footed. I am very depressed and baffled by this whole thing. She comes from a long line of halter and performance champions. I not only saw both her dam and sire (no club feet there) but both of her half brothers, one on the dam side who is a current national champion, and a weanling colt on the sire side. None of them have it.

Is it possible for her to have developed this due to her rapid growth (she is now 33 weeks old and about 14 hands tall; as tall as her Morgan pasture mate) and has always had very long legs … or could it be due to a change in environment; feed, pasture, turn out, and or stall flooring?

My vet and the surgeon he recommended both say that mechanical fixes usually don’t work and that cutting the check inferior ligament at this early an age would be better than waiting until she is older. I don’t want to put her under for surgery if there is some chance that she could grow out of this. I would greatly appreciate your opinion on this matter.

Sincerely,
Leesa

Leesa,

The earlier the surgery the better in general. Most do not correct by trimming alone. Now remember … as with any surgery there are chances that things may go wrong. However, most do not.

Thanks,
Dr. Lowder