Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The best way to support a limb...

One of the main reasons that owners give for shoeing a horse is to provide "support" for the limb. I've always been a bit puzzled by this phrase because if we are honest all a shoe does is shift the loading area of the hoof to the edge - but more importantly I've generally found that the hoof does a far better job of providing support than any shoe. 
Take Millie as an example. She is particularly fascinating because although she has come here with a front limb navicular diagnosis she also had some conformational wackiness going on with her hind feet and legs.

Both her owner and I were quite concerned about her initially (she arrived a few days out of shoes) because the angle of her hind feet was putting strain on her joints and it looked as if she would overload the lateral side. 
A few weeks down the line, however, and its surprising how fast her hooves are stabilising the limbs. She has had the conformation issue for a number of years and it didn't really change in shoes but who would have guessed how supportive her hooves could prove to be, given the chance?
These are her front feet from day one and (below) after 4 weeks. Some rebalancing but lots of improvement still required. I suspect with Millie though that her hind feet need to be right before she can properly load her front feet so I suspect her to improve from back to front.

Millie's shoes had come off just before she arrived and over 4 weeks her feet have become stronger, as you can see from these photos. 
Interesting again how - far from her feet breaking off out of shoes - they are actually growing down stronger.
This is the most revealing angle to assess change in "navicular" horses - if the palmar hoof is becoming stronger and loading more evenly its a good sign that we are on the right track.
So the answer to the question? The best way to support the limb is to allow the hoof to do its job. 

1 comment:

Jassy Mackenzie said...

She has hinds exactly like my Cordon! Funny looking things that point inwards when allowed to :-) His hinds grew so differently when he went barefoot that I have a photo somewhere of the hoof actually looking twisted as it grew down.