Either can cause imbalanced movement in the horse, which can cause one foot to grow steeper than the other. Something as simple as a loose nail in a saddle or a saddle that is so tight it restricts this movement can cause these problems. Five months later, as the flare was grown out, the upper growth angles have « normalized » as stride is lengthened and more natural movement is working on our side. The reddened, rippled walls and divergent (fan-shaped) growth rings have almost grown out, replaced by smooth hoof horn growing at the same rate at heels and toe. By the time you get the flare grown out, often the feet look almost perfectly matched. And the West most recently hosted the 2020 US Open – which almost didn’t happen due to COVID-19. Most of the imbalances we have discussed will usually only cause a two or three degree difference between the pair of hooves.
The result was two or three degrees of remaining difference between the hooves and a very sound balanced ride. If a horse is turned out 24/7 and gets ridden a few hours a month, this will have little or no effect on the feet. Eventually, P3 and the upper band of new hoof growth are almost vertical, when all the horse wanted was a few degrees difference between the feet. Treatment is almost always non-operative and surgery is only used as a last resort. Treatment of the dorsal bunion of the great toe may require tendon transfer and/or fusion. A new cast will be applied to the leg to protect the tendon as it heals. Remember the scapula must travel back underneath the saddle for the horse to extend the leg forward. There are two muscles that run along the outside of the scapula (supraspinatus and infraspinatus). As this causes soreness, the horse will start to move with a shorter (farther back) stride so that the scapula doesn’t have to slide behind the saddle when the limb is extended forward. I have dozens of clients who think I fixed their club foot, when all I did was allow the feet to have the two degree difference the horse wanted to begin with.
This thinking often leads a farrier to cut the sole out from under P3 at the toe and allow the heels to grow unchecked on the normal foot. People tend to allow or even encourage the club foot to flare so that the overall hoof angle matches the « good side. » It looks better that way to most farriers and owners. We use the same hand to trim, survêtement psg all the way around the horse. Tack up your horse and slide your hand between the shoulder and the saddle pad. Every left and every right in this previous section flips to the opposite when we find a left-handed horse. Since most people are right handed, this type of problem is most common on the front right foot, with secondary problems on the left hind diagonal. Winged Foot has grown from those early days of scratching for 15 men, to a point where we are now the most successful member of the elite USA Rugby Super League. Most grade 2 and low to mid-grade 3 club feet will show a favorable response to an inferior check desmotomy provided all other variables, including foot stereotype, chronicity, degree of internal surgical gap and follow up care are taken into consideration.
From my observations in the field, this is one of the most common. If, however, most of the horse’s exercise happens under saddle, the effects on the feet can be very dramatic. Smart training work – in hand, under saddle, at liberty or in a round pen that is designed to balance flexion to both sides and to balance lead preference helps more than anything else you can do. As the movement, flexion and lead preference becomes more balanced, the hooves will follow. A shorter stride causes a hoof to grow more upright. The hoof responds by becoming less upright. She had a very difficult time turning to the left and would not move on a left lead, under saddle or at liberty. If this still yields an exceptionally high heel, I also add a 1/4″-1/2″- tall (depending on limb flexion) rocker behind the bar wall junction to (get the heel « out of the way » of a longer stride and to promote heel-first impact). The foot was being allowed to flare to make the wall angles match.
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