Club Foot and More “Foot”notes

My horse has a slight club foot and when the shoes were taken off, the hoof broke off pretty short in the toe. He has been sore for 2 days and on the 3rd day there was heat in the front part of the hoof. My vet said to put heat on the hoof as there could be an abscess and this would draw it out. My farrier is DEER HUNTING and can't be reached. How does an abscess symptom begin? Does this sound like an abscess? My horse can put weight on the foot pretty good but turning from side to side is difficult. I'd appreciate any help.

Story originally posted by: Scott Brock , R.J.F. Ð C.J.F.

Club Foot

Club feet are an interesting problem, that I will address later. First thing that you notice with an abscess is heat, lameness and swelling in the lower leg, and a pulse. Using a drawing agent can help to pull the abscess out if that is the problem. Abscesses can have the symptoms of two or three other problems and vice versa. Usually, until you can find the pocket of pus, it is very hard to diagnose. Depending on how much hoof was lost, there may be other issues.

Remember, on a club foot there should not be a dish. The dish should be removed by the farrier. The wall should be a straight line from the hair line down. If this is done correctly and the horse pulls a shoe, the foot will not fall apart. This is nature’s way of modifying the capsule to the proper position. If you have an abscess you will know in 3-5 days; once it bursts the horse will feel much better.

Foot turns at the Pastern

I recently purchased a foal and one of his feet turns out at the pastern. Would corrective trimming be helpful at this age or should we wait and see if it straightens? I have heard that if you try and correct too early that you might get them to toe in.

I have not heard of babies going from toed out to toed in because of trimming. The reason a foal is toed out or toed in is because of his genetic conformation. If you watch the foal suckle you will see that he has to not only spread his legs to get under the mother, but also has to alter his stance wide or narrow to reach the teat. This is the reason most babies have a severe deformity.

As the baby grows the positions will change and his legs will most likely change many times before he is done growing. I trim my foals flat and level according to the conformation of the limb and try not to panic. Only in life threatening cases do I suggest going to anything out of the ordinary.

Natural Trimming

What are your thoughts on “natural trimming” and the idea of not using shoes?

I know of two different types of “natural” type trimming methods. One is the “natural balance” method started by Gene Ovenick, the other is the barefoot system developed by a German veterinarian. I don’t use either one of them in my business.

The “natural balance” system has a use on severe lamanitic horses but not on every horse. I am totally against it in that manner for many reasons. The barefoot system has very little practical application on horses in the U.S. that are ridden regularly. The conformation of our horses is relatively poor and most horses cannot maintain soundness barefoot.

The object of putting shoes on a horse is protection, traction, and soundness. If your horse can maintain healthy capsules (feet) and have the traction you need it to have for the task you are doing and still stay sound, then you may be able to go barefoot.