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  1. #1
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    Default Can we talk about Hoof Anatomy?

    So, I took a horse I've been riding to a lameness vet yesterday because of on-and-off foot soreness/ NQR'ness, in addition to an abscess that broke through halfway up the hoof wall instead of at the coronet band or sole, leading normal vet to believe there was weakness in the hoof wall. Horse also has history of coffin joint injections.

    Fast forward, vet does evaluation, films, blocking, etc. and explains to me that the DDFT angles in the front hooves are uneven (one at 127 deg and the other at 140 deg) leading to uneven pressure on the DDFT and therefore on the suspensory, making horse's front suspensories sore. Also, this angle is pulling the coffin bone upward, causing inflammation in coffin joint and leading to the need for CB injections. He wants to put special aluminum wedge shoes of two different heights on horse in front, to even out the angles and hopefully take pressure of DDFT and suspensory.

    So, I'm an anatomy nerd and a science-head and want to understand this better. Vet wasn't there when I picked up horse, but did call and try to answer some of my questions. I thought I understood the suspensory pretty well as I had a horse with a suspensory tear and studied up on it, however I am confused by the relationship between the suspensory, the DDFT and the hoof angles. First of all, where do the suspensory branches attach in the hoof and how does adding a wedge change support them?

    Also, what is the ideal angle for this tendon? 145 deg? The horse was more sore on the RIGHT suspensory and was a grade 2 lameness on the right front on this day (0 on the left, although I've felt it in the left before) but the angle that needed corrected (the 120 deg) was on the LEFT front. Would having angles wrong on the LEFT front (also the one with weak medial hoof wall) realllllllyy cause lameness in right front? I know that musculoskeletal pain can be transferred, but is this also true when the problem is clearly an incorrect hoof angle?

    Also, what CAUSES this? Is it just incorrect trimming? The horse had been balanced and switched to new farrier who was not as knowledgeable, but at the same time problems were also discovered with back pain related to a twisted saddle tree.. could a problem such as this cause the unevenness in front?

    Thanks for answering all my silly questions, I know there is a lot of knowledge floating around this board, particularly in expert sporthorse management. I also have digital x-rays if anyone wants to see them PM me an email address.



  2. #2
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    I have never heard of the DDFT causing different hoof angles - ths is a first. The DDFT is balanced by the extensor tendon in the front. Tendon pulls are created by the muscles that are connected to them. The tighter the muscle is the more pull there generally will be on a tendon and where it attaches on a bone. If this is the case, the muscles need to be addressed rather than using wedging, which will make a tight flexor muscle only tighter by artificially shortening it.

    It is common for front hooves to have different dorsal hoofwall angles and it comes from the horse's side dominance and how this makes a horse use himself. The more unevenness you see in front hoof shape, the more unbalanced a horse is side to side muscle wise. The dominant side usually has a wider and flatter hoof, whereas the non-dominant front hoof tends to grow more upright.

    Picture of the front hooves would be helpful



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by BornToRide View Post
    I have never heard of the DDFT causing different hoof angles - ths is a first. The DDFT is balanced by the extensor tendon in the front. Tendon pulls are created by the muscles that are connected to them. The tighter the muscle is the more pull there generally will be on a tendon and where it attaches on a bone. If this is the case, the muscles need to be addressed rather than using wedging, which will make a tight flexor muscle only tighter by artificially shortening it.
    I *think* from what I understood from him that it's actually the opposite - the different hoof angles causing the stress on the DDFT rather than the other way around.

    I thought mechanically the same thing about the wedges artificially shortening the tendon (and in turn the suspensory?) thus just creating less give rather than supporting/ strengthening it.

    Picture of the front hooves would be helpful
    Knew someone would ask! I'm out of town till next week, and just scoured my computer for any of this horse that showed front hoofs recently and couldn't really find any. What I saw in them was this: Front right is much more upright, but otherwise pretty balanced. Good heel and centered toe. Front left has a flared outer hoof wall and inner hoof wall is much more upright. This one also has longer toe/ more underrun heel and is flatter soled. This one the farrier could not balance because, according to him "if he balance the hoof walls, the coronet band was uneven"

    ETA: I found an older picture of the left front (horse is standing awkwardly in crossties, so the right front is toed in and not visible, he is not normally that toed in. But you can see flaring of hoof wall.

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3632/...c475a4.jpg?v=0
    Last edited by DreamBigEq37; Mar. 13, 2009 at 02:31 PM. Reason: Added photo



  4. #4
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    I *think* from what I understood from him that it's actually the opposite - the different hoof angles causing the stress on the DDFT rather than the other way around.
    I DDFT can only be stressed if it is hyperextended thanks to bad hoof form. Usually this means excessively long toes and delayed breakover.
    I thought mechanically the same thing about the wedges artificially shortening the tendon (and in turn the suspensory?) thus just creating less give rather than supporting/ strengthening it.
    Tendons cannot be shortened, only muscles can - this is a myth that just won't die. Tendons have tensile strength and alway snap back to their naturally length, unless they are overstretched and damaged. It is the connected muscles that can shorten and create more tension in the attached tendon. Just like humans always wearing high heels - it unnaturally shortens the calf muscles, causing more strain on the attached tendons which often leads to things like heel bone spurs.

    Looking at the photos it looks like your horse is right side dominant and although it is hard to tell from the photo, he's most likely too high in the heels already , especially in the left front and probably has a medio-lateral imbalance, also the the left front more so than the right, if the hooves still look very similar today.



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BornToRide View Post
    I DDFT can only be stressed if it is hyperextended thanks to bad hoof form.
    OMG. NO. Get your facts straight. Look it up.

    Quote Originally Posted by BornToRide View Post
    Tendons cannot be shortened, only muscles can - this is a myth that just won't die.
    Ever heard of contracted tendons? Guess what? That's what it is.



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by BornToRide View Post
    I have never heard of the DDFT causing different hoof angles - ths is a first.
    God help us all.
    It's called a club foot.

    If this is the case, the muscles need to be addressed rather than using wedging, which will make a tight flexor muscle only tighter by artificially shortening it.[/QUOTE]

    Wrong again. Bringing the heels up reduces the strain the DDFT exerts on the coffin bone.


    Quote Originally Posted by BornToRide View Post
    It is common for front hooves to have different dorsal hoofwall angles and it comes from the horse's side dominance and how this makes a horse use himself.
    Defiantly not common on my horses. Unless they have a club foot. But you don't know what that is.



  7. #7
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    OP, talk to your farrier (or get a 2nd opinion from another farrier) or vet about hoof care. Or get an anatomy or hoof care book. Please don't trust everything you read on a BB.

    Hard to tell anything from your photos, but the toes look long to me.

    Good luck with your horse.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by FatPalomino View Post
    OP, talk to your farrier (or get a 2nd opinion from another farrier) or vet about hoof care. Or get an anatomy or hoof care book. Please don't trust everything you read on a BB.

    Hard to tell anything from your photos, but the toes look long to me.

    Good luck with your horse.
    Thanks for the advice. I'm definitely aware of taking everything with a grain of salt and certainly will not change anything in this horse's treatment plan because of something someone on COTH says.

    I have several anatomy books and this: http://www.amazon.com/No-Foot-Horse-...6970907&sr=8-1 hoof care book (Is there a better one out there?).

    I'm just posting out of curiosity because I don't know this new vet/ farrier well and although I asked MANY questions (probably more than the check I wrote afforded me ) I was still a little confused by the reasoning behind wedging a heel taking pressure off the DDFT and Suspensory, and also by the fact that the more "normal" angle was the sorer suspsensory. Just thought someone around here might have a clearer explanation!



  9. #9
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    I have Pasquini's Guide to Anatomy (the entire book big book which includes farm and small animals, and the equine specific one) but if you're not in vet school, it may be over your head. But I love the big Pasquini book. Lots of clinical relevance.

    Put your wrist off the edge of the desk, with the palm of your hand on the desk.
    Put the wrist down towards the floor. Now above the desk. Which one exerts more pressure?



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by FatPalomino View Post
    I have Pasquini's Guide to Anatomy (the entire book big book which includes farm and small animals, and the equine specific one) but if you're not in vet school, it may be over your head. But I love the big Pasquini book. Lots of clinical relevance.

    Put your wrist off the edge of the desk, with the palm of your hand on the desk.
    Put the wrist down towards the floor. Now above the desk. Which one exerts more pressure?
    Thanks for the rec. I'll look it up.

    At rest the wrist/ hand analogy makes sense to me, I can see why at rest the DDFT would be relieved of pressure by raising the heel.

    Here is what I have a conceptual problem with: During the loading phase, the fetlock drops through the maximum degree of rotation allowed by the flexibility of the suspensory ligament. IF the heel is wedged, it STILL drops through the maximum degree of rotation allowed by the suspensory ligament, only it does so at a sharper angle (because the heel is higher, the suspensory is no longer perpendicular with the ground.) In addition, it seems that the suspensory would be LESS flexible because at rest it is now not stretched, but rather allowed to rest shorter and tighter, thus increasing the risk of pulling and tearing during the loading phase?



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by BornToRide View Post
    Tendons cannot be shortened, only muscles can - this is a myth that just won't die.
    Tendons expand and contract. It is physiological reality accepted the world over. Well, except for your world I guess.

    "Basically, there is a stress/strain relationship involved when the tendons are brought into play. Stress or load is applied when the horse bears weight on each limb, which is accommodated by an equivalent lengthening (strain) of the tendon."

    "During exercise, a horse's tendons might stretch and retract from one to three inches. When the tendon is pushed beyond its "strain" capacity, injury is the result. The damage normally involves rupturing of the tendon's collagen fibers when they are stretched beyond their capacity. This results in inflammation, soreness, and an inability of the limb to function normally."
    http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=7441


    "And even someone with an extremely shortened muscle belly can temporarily extend the tendon, which is why ballet theaters have a barre in the back of the stage; as dancers dance and use their muscles, the co-lateral nerves running to their tendons tell the tendons to stiffen. Once offstage, the dancers stretch out their tendons at the barre, but as soon as they dance again, the tendons shorten up. This stretching/stiffening of the tendons does nothing except possibly thicken them with more coils."
    http://www.tendonitis.net/tendons_and_ligaments.htm



  12. #12
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    Tendons do not and can not contract. The term contracted tendon is a misnomer. The correct term should be flexural deformity.
    Tendons can not shorten more than their rest length.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter026 View Post
    Tendons do not and can not contract. The term contracted tendon is a misnomer. The correct term should be flexural deformity.
    Tendons can not shorten more than their rest length.
    But if the rest length is shortened permanently (i.e., by wedging the heels) wouldn't it shorten?



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by LarkspurCO View Post
    Tendons expand and contract. It is physiological reality accepted the world over. Well, except for your world I guess.
    You clearly show with that that you do not really know how tendons and muscles function. Tendons have tensile strength. They have a normal rest length and can be stretched, only to go back to the normal length they have at rest. They can not naturally shorten more beyond that.

    Quote:
    [I]"Basically, there is a stress/strain relationship involved when the tendons are brought into play. Stress or load is applied when the horse bears weight on each limb, which is accommodated by an equivalent lengthening (strain) of the tendon."

    "During exercise, a horse's tendons might stretch and retract from one to three inches. When the tendon is pushed beyond its "strain" capacity, injury is the result. The damage normally involves rupturing of the tendon's collagen fibers when they are stretched beyond their capacity. This results in inflammation, soreness, and an inability of the limb to function normally."


    [I]"And even someone with an extremely shortened muscle belly can temporarily extend the tendon, which is why ballet theaters have a barre in the back of the stage; as dancers dance and use their muscles, the co-lateral nerves running to their tendons tell the tendons to stiffen. Once offstage, the dancers stretch out their tendons at the barre, but as soon as they dance again, the tendons shorten up. This stretching/stiffening of the tendons does nothing except possibly thicken them with more coils."
    And this just confirms what I said. Tendons stretch and recoil to their normal rest length. The tendons become tighter when the corresponding muscles contract, but this means the tendons are stretched, not shortened up. This article does not use correct wording!
    Last edited by BornToRide; Mar. 14, 2009 at 12:27 AM.



  15. #15
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    I have never heard of the DDFT causing different hoof angles - ths is a first. The DDFT is balanced by the extensor tendon in the front. Tendon pulls are created by the muscles that are connected to them. The tighter the muscle is the more pull there generally will be on a tendon and where it attaches on a bone. If this is the case, the muscles need to be addressed rather than using wedging, which will make a tight flexor muscle only tighter by artificially shortening it.
    You are SOOOO WRONG! OMG!
    You don't have a CLUE about bio mechanic ! What IS your source of your "expertise"??? PLEASE I have asked you several times to tell us all know what makes you think you are such an expert? It is obvious that you are SO WRONG on so many facts. It is a more than annoying, your "advice" is sometimes dangerous.
    [edit]
    Last edited by Moderator 1; Mar. 18, 2009 at 12:17 AM. Reason: personal commentary
    Patty Stiller CNBBT,CNBF,CLS, CE
    Natural Balance Certified Lameness Specialist ,instructor.
    www.hoofcareonline.com



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by DreamBigEq37 View Post
    But if the rest length is shortened permanently (i.e., by wedging the heels) wouldn't it shorten?
    No, it is the attached muscle that will contract more, thereby stretching the tendon and creating more pull at the attachment site.

    That's the exact same thing that happens in women who constantly wear high heels - they tend to get hypertonic calf muscles that create too much tension on the attached achilles tendon which often leads to achilles tendonosis.



  17. #17
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    Also, what is the ideal angle for this tendon? 145 deg?
    In 27 years of full time hoofcare, working with veterinarians including at the university level, I have never heard of a vet using the tendon angles determine what angle a hoof should be. The hoof angles should be set to match (internally) the pastern bone and coffin bone angles so the coffin joint is aligned.
    The horse was more sore on the RIGHT suspensory and was a grade 2 lameness on the right front on this day (0 on the left, although I've felt it in the left before) but the angle that needed corrected (the 120 deg) was on the LEFT front. Would having angles wrong on the LEFT front (also the one with weak medial hoof wall) really cause lameness in right front?
    Probably not but a whole lot of other things could cause the RF lameness: heel length, (under-run?) toe length, breakover point, medial lateral balance etc, etc etc. Without seeing the radiographs I can't begin to see what it is your vet is seeing. I can assure you that using the tendon angles is news to me.
    I know that musculoskeletal pain can be transferred, but is this also true when the problem is clearly an incorrect hoof angle?
    There is a lot more to musculoskeletal problems coming from feet besides just incorrect hoof angles.
    Also, what CAUSES this? Is it just incorrect trimming?
    genetics, (club feet) combined with incorrect management of the feet as individuals (trimming/ shoeing)
    The horse had been balanced and switched to new farrier who was not as knowledgeable, but at the same time problems were also discovered with back pain related to a twisted saddle tree.. could a problem such as this cause the unevenness in front?
    Poor saddle fit can sure cause a lot of back and front end problems. However if the horse has one club foot , that can also cause the saddle to APPEAR to be twisted when in fact it is the horse that is twisted.
    Thanks for answering all my silly questions,
    Nothing silly at all. And you may be dealing with several issues all at once. This could be a jig saw puzzle that take a while to totally sort out. management.
    I also have digital x-rays if anyone wants to see them PM me an email address.
    PLEASE! I would love to see them. pstiller@bresnan.net
    Patty Stiller CNBBT,CNBF,CLS, CE
    Natural Balance Certified Lameness Specialist ,instructor.
    www.hoofcareonline.com



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patty Stiller View Post
    You are SOOOO WRONG! OMG!
    You don't have a CLUE about bio mechanic ! What IS your source of your "expertise"??? PLEASE I have asked you several times to tell us all know what makes you think you are such an expert? It is obvious that you are SO WRONG on so many facts. It is a more than annoying, your "advice" is sometimes dangerous.
    Go AWAY! Go to a full time farrier school,or a school or something but just please go away or just be quiet until you get a formal hoofcare education. You don't know squat.
    Patty, I am a certified massage therapist, for humans, small and large animals. I certainly do know how muscles and tendons function.

    Perhaps, just perhaps what you once learned about musculo-skeletal biomechanics is outdated and even largely wrong - ever considered that??!! Perhaps, just perhaps you are wrong, not I! I know I am not because the animals confirm this to me every day I work with them.

    Why don't you go away and complete a full massage education first before you blow this sort of steam.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BornToRide View Post
    Patty, I am a certified massage therapist, for humans, small and large animals. I certainly do know how muscles and tendons function.
    To repeat myself. God help us all.

    Perhaps, just perhaps what you once learned about musculo-skeletal biomechanics is outdated and even largely wrong - ever considered that??!! Perhaps, just perhaps you are wrong, not I! I know I am not because the animals confirm this to me every day I work with them.
    No, it is very very obvious you're wrong. It's not outdated. I'm in my 2nd year of vet school, and this is the truth. Besides my vet school professors (which have dual DVM's and PhD's), one of the best equine podiatry vet's in the country explained this to me.

    So, which magazine/video/seminar/clinic/bulletin board/voo doo gypsy healer explained it to you that way?

    Again, god help the animals you work on. I'm going to take up praying again, just for them.

    Why don't you go away and complete a full massage education first before you blow this sort of steam.
    Why waste $1500 on an online certification? http://www.nwsam.com/faq.html



  20. #20
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    [quote]
    Quote Originally Posted by Patty Stiller View Post
    In 27 years of full time hoofcare, working with veterinarians including at the university level, I have never heard of a vet using the tendon angles determine what angle a hoof should be. The hoof angles should be set to match (internally) the pastern bone and coffin bone angles so the coffin joint is aligned.
    Hoof angles should not be artificially set - the horse determines the dorsal hoofwall angle. The first growth below the coronet band shows which dorsal hoofwall angle the horse WANTS to grow.

    In many cases that is a steeper angle. This angle should not be artificially created by rasping the dorsal hoofwall accordingly, which is unfortunately commonly done. The hoof should always be trimmed so it is balanced with internal hoof structures.

    Quote Originally Posted by FatPalomino View Post
    BY FAR the very best advice on this thread.
    You must be one of Patty's cheerleaders - very obvious and predictable



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