Monday 18 June 2012

Bizarre feet of Legend

This week I thought I'd start the blog with some bizarre looking feet. These belong to Legend, who has been here 8 weeks now. He came here because of a long term navicular lameness but had also suffered from mechanical laminitis while in remedial shoes. 
When he arrived here he had very distorted hooves. He had been out of shoes for about 6 weeks but the nail holes are still visible. He'd just started to grow a better connected hoof capsule but it was clear he had massive changes to make. 
Here he is 8 weeks later, with a reasonable amount of new hoof capsule grown in. The problem is, though, that he has a double whammy of issues: weak heels, frogs and digital cushion and related soft tissue injuries (a safe assumption) from the navicular PLUS thin soles, long toes and solar and laminar pain from the laminitis. 
In practice, this means rehab is a slow, difficult process - even more than usual - because while his weak palmar hoof needs movement to strengthen it, the work has to be done in a way that doesn't damage his thin soles. 
However, despite having restrictions as to what we can let him do in the way of exercise, he is making some good changes to his feet. You can see in these photos that his heels are becoming more supportive and - although his toes are shockingly long still in the lateral shots - the foot is becoming more balanced. 
Here is his foot from the front, day one versus today.  The new hoof capsule growth is clear in the lower shot and I hope you can see that the medio-lateral balance is better too. 

There is always a danger in posting photos of really odd-looking hooves. 

I suspect that a lot of you will be thinking that he would be far better off if his feet were trimmed and particularly if the toe was taken back. 

Believe me, I would like nothing better (cosmetically) than to take a pair of nippers and a rasp to these feet and make them look pretty......BUT feet that look prettier in photos on the blog are no good to me or - especially - to Legend or to his owners unless he is also sounder on them and moving more freely. 
Of course, in one way it would help his biomechanics if he had a shorter toe...BUT if you whack off the toe in a trim that will immediately overload the palmar area, not good for a DDFT and collateral ligaments which are already under strain and which are in the early stages of becoming stronger. 
Also, if you look again at the solar view you can see that there really isn't that much which you could trim without being invasive - its not that his white line has stretched, its his whole hoof capsule which distorted with the remedial farriery - so again, although the appearance of the hoof from above tells you to trim, everything else is telling you to leave well alone. 

Legend is doing a great job of changing his feet and improving them as fast as he possibly can, but if we try to accelerate that by "rebalancing" his feet today then all we will do is put the tendons and ligaments within his hoof under even more strain than they are already - and he will be less sound not more sound - though his feet will appear "prettier" and may look less bizarre on the internet - but (for me) that's not a good enough reason to trim!


Unknown said...

Its great to see that amount of change after only a couple of months and (little or) no human intervention :) Its also great to see your and Rockley's name being mention frequently on facebook and the web atlast! I saw a comment on a group saying 'have you considered Rockley, ask your vet' as the first response to a lameness query which was great to see! Legend does have some odd looking feet bless him, was this shape caused by the remedial shoeing? which then caused the mechanical lameness/added to it?

jenj said...

My goodness, Legend's feet are definitely different. Poor fellow! It's amazing the changes he's making in just 8 weeks.

I LOVE your explanation of why not to trim. It's super clear that healing is a gradual strengthening thing, and while doing one thing might "fix" that particular piece of the puzzle faster, it would be detrimental to others. Fantastic.

It's also pretty funny that you had to do a comb-over of the hair around the coronet band to get a good shot of his feet! ;)

Nic Barker said...

Thanks Rachael :-) Yes, apparently the distortion was a result of the remedial shoes though of course it doesn't always have such a drastic effect!

Nic Barker said...

Jen - its a nightmare trying to get decent pics of feathery feet - my preference would be to trim the whole lot off but of course lots of owners don't like that ;-)

juliette said...


You are courageous to have this blog and do the right thing even when it means that you have to post photos in the process that do not look like "the right thing". Working with horses correctly, on the ground or riding or in our horsekeeping practices isn't always "picture perfect" but we are in this for the horses. Good for you for not tidying up the long toe. Legend is lucky to have you working with him. Sticking to your guns isn't always easy!

Nic Barker said...

Thanks Juliette - very much appreciated :-)

M's mum said...

Wow, those poor feet. How long was he in remedial shoes? I keep being amazed at how feet can change (for the worse and for the better)over relatively short periods of time.

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Wow, yes, you are right. The first instinct would be -"back toe, BACK!" but then in looking at his sole, I think I can see his frog has stretched forward to give in protection of his toe length, so in due time, I'm sure he'll start self trimming. Does the long toe put more pressure on navicular? Interesting thoughts about the tendons and whole balance. I'm anxious to see the next round of pics and YES that new growth looks awesome and smooth! :)

Jassy Mackenzie said...

So interesting! And I love your explanation as to why not to trim. Makes total sense and hopefully might give the trimmers out there who do love to look at perfect feet, some food for thought!

amandap said...

Very interesting.

Wide masking tape works quite well for keeping hair out of the way for photos. Duck tape is a bit too sticky. May be no good for your purposes though.

cptrayes said...

That has to be number one in the wierdest part-grown foot of all time list for me!


Nic Barker said...

C - I'd agree, but Dexter's still top the bill of the hoof freak show as far as I am concerned (!)...

Nic Barker said...

Kristen - I hope you are right :-) The long toe is not a good thing from the point of view of his landing, DDFT or navicular bone but at the moment its the case of the devil and the deep blue sea BUT the more new growth he has, the happier he is.

Amanda - GREAT idea :-) look out for tape next time around ;-)