Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Legendary hoof changes

These are the rather strange hooves belonging to Legend.  On the day he arrived he had already had his shoes off for 5-6 weeks.  He had suffered from a bout of stress laminitis following the remedial farriery for his navicular and this resulted in the very flat feet, long toe and collapsed heel. 
He had already started to grow a better hoof capsule - in the initial photos his feather hid the growth but I peeled them back yesterday and its more clearly visible and has grown down further in the last 3 weeks, as have the nail holes. 
As his owners pointed out when they saw him yesterday, there are actually 3 distinct bands of angle change, reflecting the different stages his feet have been through in the last 6 months.
Obviously, when you see a foot with a toe like that, the temptation is to get out the rasp and nippers and back it right up - which might well be a good idea if the only issue was laminitis.  In Legend's case, he has lameness which has blocked to his palmar hoof as well - in fact that's the primary problem.  Backing up his toe would make his foot look prettier but would also shift a lot of weight backwards, onto the frog and heels, and if they are not strong enough for the extra load, that will actually make him lamer not sounder. 
If you compare the photos, over the last 3 weeks his heels have started to become less under-run - the heel buttresses are slightly further back in the lower photo - but this is still a very weak, flat foot and although the frog is fairly healthy, the heels are still collapsed. 

The catch-22 is that Legend is still landing toe first, and shortening the toe would tend to help him land heel first IF his palmar hoof is strong enough - its a real balancing act and at the moment I am still tending towards not trimming him, as there are such massive changes already going on that I think he has more than enough rebalancing to cope with at the moment...
...as you can see in this shot, which shows how his balance is shifting not just in the dorso-palmar plane but also medio-laterally - look at the bulge in the new growth at the lateral aspect. 

For now Legend is comfortable on the tracks and in the field but definitely not on tough surfaces - which is hardly surprising, poor chap.  I do hope though that as he grows better feet this will soon improve too. 


Kelly (ridegroomfeed) said...

I'm so glad to see this post right now! I'm contemplating some 'long toe' issues in my own horse right now. Will you just let this new hoof grow down, and the toe will shorten in its own time?

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Interesting..! I'm curious to see if you do end up trimming that toe back, if he doesn't move enough to self trim on his own, as his palmar hoof strengthens. THIS to me, is similar to what I'm dealing with...so I'll be watching close. As if I don't already! :)

Freyalyn said...

Very interesting - and particularly so that you don't take the obvious solution of toe-trimming but look further to see why it wouldn't be a good idea. Poor Legend.

Nic Barker said...

The toe will definitely shorten as the new hoof capsule grows down. There used to be a belief that the old, long, damaged dorsal wall would somehow lever away the new growth and damage it (this was one of the rationales for trimming the toe back) but in reality this doesn't happen because the new growth is way more strongly attached and has better integrity than the old growth.

Kristen - I am going to leave well alone for now, but if I do trim I will let you know - and what effect it has!

Freyalyn - its always down to what is going to suit the individual horse, so what is right for Legend may not be right for another horse, but I need horses here to be as comfortable as possible and to move as much as possible, so any trim which is likely to impair that is a no-no, as far as I am concerned.