Club Foot

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Q: I recently purchased a 2 1/2 year old Warmblood gelding. He has a 2 degree club foot which I thought I could manage with proper shoeing. His x-rays do not demonstate any lateral rotation but there is laminar inflammation and some remodeling at the tip if the coffin bone. He is lame after every trimming. I would like to know if early corrective shoeing can correct this mechanical problem? Any ideas? The vet in my area seems to like check ligament surgery
as an option.
Thank You,

A: I'm afraid that shoeing club feet is one of the more controversial and difficult situations farriers face. It is beyond the area of my expertise. Geronimo did answer several questions regarding this condition although we never posted them to the web site. I will copy/paste part of one of the answers below in the hope that it might give you some general info to go on. A few specific references in it will not apply to your horse, of course, but in general it will give you Geronimo's ideas on club feet:

     When I am called out to work on a horse that is club footed, whether it is the result of heredity or injury, I know that I am not going to be able to change that clubfoot to a normal foot. So, my approach has always been to drop the heels a little on the clubfoot and try to promote some cupping and heel growth on the flat foot. In other words to try to strike a happy medium between the two. It is a balancing act.

     I do my best to get both feet synchronized to where they can co-exist with one another. Sometimes we get lucky and things work well for an extended period of time. But the problem never really goes away. It is always there to deal with again when you come back in 6 weeks. If the horse is worked on EVERY 6 weeks without fail, the amount of work becomes less and less. In my experience that is the best you can hope for. If the horse is not stumbling or falling down, not hitting himself or developing heat or swelling and is moving in an acceptable fashion, count yourself lucky.

     Sometimes it is difficult to deal with these types of problems as the horse owner, especially if you have fallen in love with this animal. Perhaps you need to rethink your role where this horse is concerned. Do you want to spend the time and money trying to solve a problem that is difficult to impossible for even the most accomplished farrier to get results from? Are you sure you want to train this horse that may remain at least slightly off for all his life?

     You do not say what your equestrian discipline is but if it is anything more stressful than pleasure or trail work this young horse is a very poor prospect. Trying to make him fit your mold is not really fair to the horse.

     I do suggest that you read my Q&A on long toe, low heel syndrome to help you with the other foot that is flat. Perhaps correcting this problem will help the horse move less unevenly. You are absolutely right in wanting the elevated egg bar shoe but definitely not a wedge pad.

     Now, one other thing--go stand in front of a full length mirror and look closely at yourself. Do you have one arm a little longer than the other? Is one shoulder a little more broad or muscular than the other? Is one knee higher off the ground than the other? What I am getting at is that there are farriers out there honestly and sometimes dishonestly attempting to correct what nature has created. No living creature is perfectly symmetrical or geometrically unflawed but most compensate well for these oddities. Frequently less is better. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

     I can tell you that I myself have been guilty as a young horseshoer of attempting to correct nature. It doesn't work. So don't fall for this shimming with pads to try and compensate for so called high and low shoulders or high and low hips.

     I will remind you that if you look at the anatomy of the horse you will see that the horse's shoulders are not attached to the horse's skeleton by other then muscle. So perhaps conditioning might be something you should consider. The unevenness in the shoulders could well simply be uneven muscle development.

     If it has to be this horse for you because of love of this animal or other reason, then read all my Q&As & Articles. Maybe you will find the answer there. The vet and another farrier examining your horse may offer you some solutions also.

Now it is me, Mary, again. 

As for your horse being sore after trimming, my first thought is to begin to shoe him so as to keep the coffin area from coming in contact with the ground. And, as Geronimo said, you must consider whether this is the horse for you or if you should cut your losses.

Sorry I can't help more,

Mrs. Mary Bayard
Dodge Creek Stables
The American Blacksmith
Oakland, Oregon

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This entire web site is copyright protected.  1996-2001 Geronimo & Mary Bayard,  2001-2008 Mary Fitzpatrick
All rights reserved. Contact Mary for reproduction information & permission.