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Re: uneven shoulders and club feet (long)

California Horse Adventures wrote:
> When I first got my good endurance horse he had a club foot with high heel,
> rundown heel on the other foot and shoulders that were 2 inches different.  <SNIP

I have had a couple of club footed, uneven horses, too.  My success in
endurance with them is based on how severe the defect was.

>   First it helps to understand what the clubfoot stems from as we heard some
> real whacky explainations. The foal is born with a contracted deep digital
> flexor tendon which pulls on the coffin bone for the rest of his its life.

That's true, but it doesn't cover all of the possibilities for clubbed
feet.  My husband's horse was indeed born with one, and his sire throws
nice geldings-to-be, almost all with a clubbed foot.  (His fillies all
have AWFUL attitudes - yuk!) On the other hand, my arab, Rocket,
developed a clubbed foot after a devastating shoulder injury as a
yearling.  (He ran through a fence when the breeder took everyone
(except him) in out of a lightening storm.  He was missed in the field,
somehow.)  The pain and lack of use of that front leg allowed the tendon
to contract and change the foots who character.  I got him nearly 8
years later.

When he eats in the field, he DOES unweight that foot (puts it back,
non-load bearing), mainly because the tendon would need to stretch too
much to allow him to put it in front.  It is a symptom of his problem,
but as you say - it did not cause it.  You cannot MAKE this horse graze
any other way.  I have seen videos and pics of this horse as a foal -
not a problem before the injury.

<SNIP lots of great management techniques for clubbed feet.>

How to shoe a clubbed footed horse is so controversial.  I have heard
"shoe each foot to itself".  I've also heard that we should normalize
the feet as much as possible so that they match.  In one, the horse is
unbalanced.  The other way, we sacrifice the structure of the good foot
and leg while trying to match the two feet.  I'm undecided which way is
best.  We've tried both over the years.

Interesting aside...
My horse has redeveloped his weak sde (old shoulder injury/clubbed
foot), and he always has even, centered wear on his shoes.  He has also
routinely interfered, with the right clubbed foot striking midway up the
left cannon bone.  We watched him move, video taped him, etc. and saw
that his foot took off and landed centered and level, but swung in
immediately after take off.  Our vet & farrier hypothesize that he has
scar tissue in the shoulder plus he's using accessory muscles to work
that shoulder, pulling the leg off line and then correcting for it at a
point for the foot to land flat.  Even though that side is now even, I'm
afraid that the entire problem isn't fixed.  Since he is sound (now that
he is over a sole abcess), we put on splint boots and away we go.

Linda Flemmer

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