Friday 16 September 2011

Horse of the week! Zan, the "flat-footed, thin soled" horse

This week the award has to go to Zan, who has been here exactly 6 months.  He has stayed longer than most horses initially because his feet were so weak that it took longer than usual to get him into full work.  Since then however his owner has had an incredibly busy time with house and job moves, and so Zan has stayed for a few extra weeks.  We don't mind though because he is an absolute sweetheart :-)
Here are his front legs the day he arrived - some very obvious stresses to his joints and hooves looking overloaded laterally. 
On his 6 month anniversary his hooves are loading much more normally, but the twist that was being taken by his limbs is now in his hooves, and he looks pigeon-toed.  I'm adding a slightly better lit shot in view of C's comment :-)
Regular blog readers will remember that this is something that we've seen before!  Personally I think his limbs look much more stable and less braced today, but the important thing is that he is much, much sounder like this.
For comparison, here are his hooves at day one...
and at 3 months - note the new growth in the top half of his hoof, and look at how much further that line has grown down in the photo at 6 months, below.  This is a slightly slower than normal growth rate, because it took over 3 months before Zan was in full work on hard surfaces. 
Looking at the solar view the shift to a stronger caudal hoof and shorter toe is clear.  Even though on the lateral photos his feet don't appear that much shorter, the proportions have changed completely.
Day one, straight out of shoes.  At this point his soles were so thin that they flexed on thumb pressure so he was incredibly prone to bruising and soreness on anything but the best of surfaces.  
The same foot 3 months later, with radical changes happening.  There is an enormous contrast between the length of toe - the old growth - and the new line of his preferred breakover, which is over an inch further back.  There is also a massive difference in collateral groove depth, a sign that his foot is developing greater strength and concavity.
At 6 months he has a hugely improved frog and heels and a thicker sole.  In a couple more weeks all the old, rubbishy toe will be grown out and his breakover will be further back and more central to his frog.  

Proof, if proof were needed, that thin soles and flat feet can be changed and improved.  In fact horses with thin soles and flat feet are not, as people sometimes think, the sorts of horses who "can't go barefoot".  Instead, horses with weak, rubbishy feet are the ones who can benefit most from growing a healthier, better balanced, stronger hoof.


georginacwells said...

You could swop my mare for Zan as she appears on the surface to have the same problems that you are describing. This post has given me tremendous comfort that we will eventually get there.

Thank you.

cptrayes said...

Nic is it just a trick of the light or has he genuinely lost that massive amount of tension that you can clearly see in the first photo in the ligament running down the front of his leg ABOVE the knee?


Nic Barker said...

No problem, Georgina :-)

C - to me the whole picture is softer and less braced now, but I can't swear that the lighting is the same, because the photos were probably taken at different times of day. I will put a slightly brighter one up as well for comparison.

Dan and Betty said...

Hear, hear. Well done.


Sez said...

The more difficult ones to rehab are the ones we learn most from. Why do you think he took so much longer?

cptrayes said...

It looks pretty clear to me that there is a LOT less tension in those forelegs above knee level. His whole body must have been feeling that strain.

Great job.


Nic Barker said...

Agreed, C - I will post some video footage of him next week if I can - he moves nicely now :-)

Sez, he was very limited in the work he could comfortably do because of his thin soles, so the reason he took longer than some was largely due to that and the time he needed to build better sole depth. Plus I suspect that there was a lot of ligament and tendon strain due to the fact that his medio-lateral balance was so compromised, so he wasn't a horse whose movement you could rush.