Thursday, 7 February 2013

Angles, breakover and sole depth

Here is the promised post on breakover, dorsal wall angles and sole depth. This is actually just the first in the series as these are photos of Buddy and I have another series of photos from Beano which are equally interesting but which I will have to post tomorrow. 
This photo shows Bud the day he arrived. Not a dreadful hoof but its very interesting to compare his breakover and angle change now (below) after nearly 12 weeks. These sorts of steep angle changes are common when horses come out of shoes and usually the new angle gives a very clear indication of where the new breakover will be. 
In this case, it will result in Buddy having a much shorter toe and will also improve his hoof-pastern axis. This is going to take another few months, as his new hoof capsule has only grown in about a third to a half over the 12 weeks he has been here. 

The other huge benefit of a steeper dorsal wall angle is that as well as a shorter toe it indicates a hoof capsule which is much better able to protect the sensitive structures within the hoof. Its common to see improved concavity and much thicker soles once the new growth is complete. We don't usually have follow-up x-rays once horses go home but as a rule in a hard-working barefoot horse the coffin bone is held higher within the hoof capsule than in a shod horse so it would make sense for the new angle and improved sole depth and concavity to go hand-in-hand.

Its always much easier to see the new angle at the dorsal wall rather than at the heels - which is where sole shots are important...
This line  - looking at his sole nearly 12 weeks in - shows where his breakover will be once the new hoof capsule has grown in. You can already see where it will be because there is a clear change in the sole between the new and old growth.  You can also see how the balance of his foot is altering. Today the frog is very substantial and the heels are the broadest part of the foot even though he has more improvement to come. 
By contrast, when he came out of shoes the broadest part of his foot was towards the tip of the frog and the toe and the heels were relatively contracted. 

In a horse who has been out of shoes a while, similar changes can still happen but tend to be more subtle - that's tomorrow's blog :-)


Maria said...

I have a mare with heels which are not just under-run, they are folded over and she was walking on them, causing corns and corresponding creeping-forward toes. She was shod for a very short time and after laminitis caused these issues. She has been on barefoot management regime with tracks, exercise, minerals and very little grass but we don't see to be able to influence the heel to grow down even a little. I feel the standard barefoot management has failed this horse (it's been five years) and don't know where to turn. I wish what happened to the feet in this blog post happened to my mare but it just isn't happening. Any ideas?

Nic Barker said...

The first thing to address is the toe firs landing, Maria - as you said on FB, continually landing like this perpetuates a weak palmar hoof and poor hoof pastern axis.

Its a vicious circle: pain in the palmar hoof=toe first landing=stress on tendons and ligaments=more pain in the palmar hoof etc.

"Standard barefoot management" is fine for maintaining a healthy hoof but often isn't enough to strengthen a weak palmar hoof. With Buddy, the most important first step was to improve his landing. He now lands beautifully heel first but that is the key to getting these changes.

Dom said...

Going through exactly this right now with my new TB. You can see a clear line in his hoof growth where the angle changes. It matches up with the day I pulled his shoes. He's going to look MUCH better with less toe, better heel, and a frog that's actually doing its job instead of futily stretching in search of the ground. (The TB in question had not only shoes, but PADS. It's a crime because he really has nice feet under there.)