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Crooked Legged Horses and Flaring

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  • Crooked Legged Horses and Flaring

    I trim a horse who is quite crooked legged. Basically her legs go in all different directions, on rads one of her knees looks like the film was taken sideways. Fascinating!

    Her feet *always* want to flare out to underneath her bony column. I trim her to her sole plane and don't chase those flares aggressively. It occurred to me one day that if I did, her foot might very well roll over and she'd be on her pastern FWIW, her foot lands heel first and relatively flat. She is sound in light work.

    So.. my question is.. what do other trimmers use as guidelines in a situation like this? Soundness? Overall balance?
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

  • #2
    Medial or lateral flaring? Do you measure the CG depth when you trim? Pictures?

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Medial or lateral.. depends on the foot and the crooked leg above it She has plenty of sole depth and her feet are balanced, most of my clients do rads and she is no exception. No pics, sorry, it's not my horse!
      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
      ---
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

      Comment


      • #4
        Do you measure the CG depth? I am trimming some minis that have a more severe media-lateral deviation in the hinds to the point that they will almost collapse on the lateral edge if the medial flaring is not controlled with trimming. Often they need more frequent trimming to keep the affected hooves better balanced.

        They all have one thing in common - they are basewide behind and tend to walk a somewhat bow legged.

        I always balance the medial and lateral side at each trim by using the CG depth as guideline.

        Comment


        • #5
          I had a trimmer recommend to straighten my crooked horse's legs. With easy boots.

          The horse was 5 years old already!!!!!



          Anyway, if the horse is landing well and sound, that's all you need, right?

          Comment


          • #6
            Front legs

            I drop an imaginary plumb line from the point of the shoulder down and note where the horse's joints are, and where the foot is. The foot needs to be under that point, even if the leg bones put it elsewhere. Then what you see is a hoof trying to get under the point of the shoulder to support the weight there.

            At rest, the leg is like a column supporting a porch roof. The base needs to be lined up with the top, or it will not support its section of roof and will instead topple over. The horse has muscles and soft tissue to keep the leg from toppling, but they've got to make up for the faulty conformation by pulling medially and laterally while continuing to hold up the weight. The horse still needs the foot underneath that point at the shoulder where the weight comes down.

            On a crooked leg, we'll often see asymmetrical hooves that are wider on one side than the other. And if this isn't enough, flaring to at least get the wall where it should be. If you tried to make that foot look normal on a badly crooked leg, you will undermine the body's effort to support itself.

            This is bad enough, but it gets downright scary when the horse is in motion. You might end up with a compromise so that the horse stands supported but moves with the least amount of potential damage to his soft tissue.

            Leaving conformation out of the equation is one thing I really dislike about the whole barefoot thing. How conformation affects hooves, and what may be done to help a horse, was touched on in the basic farrier class I took. I would love to have studied it more in depth. When I encounter a horse whose conformation is so bad that I think a shoe will help him hold his hoof together under the extreme stresses it experiences, I send them to a farrier.
            Last edited by matryoshka; Aug. 4, 2009, 10:35 AM.
            "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

            Comment


            • #7
              Hind legs

              The hind foot needs to be under the point of the buttock, looking from behind. Again, check to see where the joints really are, and which way they point. It's surprising what you find on a horse that is considered to have decent conformation. It doesn't seem to cause as much problem for the hoof when the hind legs are crooked: I notice more problems in the joints than in the hooves.

              A lot of horses have their stifles or hocks turned outward. This means the weight is coming down the medial side of the hoof, and it flares to the outside. I was taught that flares in the hinds mean the wall is too long there.

              For trimming, I line myself up with a plane bisecting the hock and see where the hoof is. It's easiest if the lower joints line up with the hock. I trim the hind so that it supports the leg. It is interesting how the horse shifts his stance when you change the hind feet. The foot needs to be in a position to support the weight of the horse coming down through that leg.

              I like to make sure the heels are even--it seems like a lot of people allow the heels to get uneven because the leg is so rarely straight, and so they trim it to appear flat when the leg is lifted for trimming. You need to check the balance of the hinds when the horse is standing on it, not when it is lifted. Make sure you check your work from standing in front of the hock, too. It's weird how it can look right from the back but still be off when you walk in front.

              I get very good feedback from local people who do body work on the horses I trim. They like how I do hinds and say the horses I trim have fewer hind-end problems than usual. So I guess I'm on the right track.
              "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

              Comment


              • #8
                I trimmed a 17hh TWH who had the most crooked front legs I'd ever seen. He was back a the knee, his knees touched, and his feet were close to being under his shoulders. Also, one leg was turned laterally about 45 deg starting at the elbow, the other somewhat less. The resulting cant of the hoof meant he flared terribly on the lateral side. Yet, he'd land on that flare and the foot would pronate medially. It was weird to see such a large flare be the point of impact, because it seems it should wear away or break up when the horse moves.

                Anyway, I tried to compromise on the flare. The horse appeared to need it a bit for standing, yet is was definitely in the way when he moved. I tried taking it down closer to the sole plane, but he got sore. So I found a point that we could both live with. This horse had a powerful hindquarters, which is probably why he was able to get around okay. He did poorly on hills and hard ground. Needed rather flat, sandy areas for maximum comfort.

                Luckily, he found a home with a lady who likes to brush horses and only wants to ride around the farm in an area with sandy soil. Could not have hand picked a better place for this guy if I'd had a list.
                "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

                Comment


                • #9
                  drop an imaginary plumb line from the point of the shoulder down and note where the horse's joints are, and where the foot is. The foot needs to be under that point, even if the leg bones put it elsewhere. Then what you see is a hoof trying to get under the point of the shoulder to support the weight there.
                  I SOOOO disagree with that! That is the very kind of thinking that traditional farriers have used for centuries that ends up causing lameness.
                  The bones in the distal limb(the fetlock and below) have already adapted in to the forces above. That includes the coffin bone. Most times the condyles (ridges in the joints) are not quite pointing straight ahead so trying to crank them around to center the foot under anything above that will unbalance the distal joint spaces, causing eventual lameness.
                  Because the functional (waxy or "live" ) sole is proven to be a very accurate guide to where the bottom of the coffin bone is, then in the absence of radiographs the sole will be the best guide for balancing the foot and keeping those joint spaces even. (and sound) .
                  The horse is built however he is built and the foot will take care of everything above it .
                  One problem is that a lot of people THINK they are trimming to the live sole but in fact are missing it by a lot because they have not learned to recognize and locate the TRUE live sole plane.
                  Patty Stiller CNBBT,CNBF,CLS, CE
                  Natural Balance Certified Lameness Specialist ,instructor.
                  www.hoofcareonline.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As to flares , with the exception of severely crooked horses, they tend to go away when the foot is repeatedly balanced properly medial laterally.
                    And in those who are that crooked , to help minimize the flaring I take the flares down every time I shoe or trim them and they do not get sore.
                    If a horse gets sore from a trim it was because of something other than the flare removal .
                    Patty Stiller CNBBT,CNBF,CLS, CE
                    Natural Balance Certified Lameness Specialist ,instructor.
                    www.hoofcareonline.com

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Thanks everyone. I trim this horse to her live sole plane. When I first started trimming her she was 3 out of 5 lame on her front feet. She is sound now and rads say that her feet are perfectly balanced based on her joint spaces..

                      but I try to be careful about becoming complacent. It would be easy to say that is good enough, but I prefer to view her feet as a work in progress.

                      It is interesting to hear re: Patty that she might eventually lose the flare if she stays balanced. I like that idea as I am really uncomfortable with the idea of chasing that flare aggressively - I trimmed a very crooked legged horse last year who had been "de-flared" by one of our local Pete devotees and the horse was then walking on the side of his pastern yes, the entire hoof capsule rolled over. Extreme example yes but one I sure won't forget seeing theory and practice are certainly not always the same thing. I am otherwise quite aggressive about removing flares and have not had a horse lame from doing so.. but this is clearly not the same as the average flare!
                      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                      ---
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        If it appeared I was suggesting anybody try to fix conformational faults through trimming, or to crank the hoof under the point of the shoulder, then I miswrote. I was trying to explain why we see some wonky feet under wonky legs: adaptations to deal with structural defects.

                        If the lower limb cannot modify itself in response to crooked limbs in order to support its weight, the foal will not stand, will not be able to run away from predators and will die. Problems that foals can get by with become worse as the horse reaches his full weight. So what we are seeing in adult horses is what their hooves have had to do to make up for problems elsewhere. If they can't, the horse won't be able to stand up, let alone move. Further, many of these adaptations are not going to hold up well over time, because joints aren't designed for some of the stresses they experience due to crookedness. And then there is the extra strain on soft tissue...

                        My point was that we shouldn't monkey around with these adaptations unless they result in counterproductive overgrowths of hoof wall. Trimmers can get rid of the overgrowths but shouldn't try to take away an important adaptation in the name of a pretty hoof pictured on a web site. Not that EqTrainer was suggesting this.

                        Looking at legs the way I do explains what I see and lets me know what can be safely removed and what should be left for the good of the horse. The point I thought I was making is that the joints adapt to try to put the hoof where it is needed, and we should respect that. Because there are now lateral components to the forces experienced by the hoof, we're going to get flares. Sometimes it is good to reduce these, sometimes not so much.
                        Last edited by matryoshka; Aug. 5, 2009, 08:26 AM.
                        "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                          I like that idea as I am really uncomfortable with the idea of chasing that flare aggressively - I trimmed a very crooked legged horse last year who had been "de-flared" by one of our local Pete devotees and the horse was then walking on the side of his pastern yes, the entire hoof capsule rolled over.
                          I know it's not your method of trimming, but based on what you saw with that horse could you tell what guideline was used to trim the foot so severely? Like, what did the trimmer use to decide where and when to trim and when to stop?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                            Her feet *always* want to flare out to underneath her bony column. I trim her to her sole plane and don't chase those flares aggressively. It occurred to me one day that if I did, her foot might very well roll over and she'd be on her pastern FWIW, her foot lands heel first and relatively flat. She is sound in light work.
                            I'm not understanding how a flare can be under the boney column.

                            It sounds like you are 'using' the flare to 'hold up' one side of the foot?

                            I'm having a little trouble following you.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post

                              It is interesting to hear re: Patty that she might eventually lose the flare if she stays balanced.
                              Yes, they will - no doubt in my mind because I have observed this, although creating more muscle balance side to side may need to be involved. If a hoof flares excessively due to conformational issues or past traumas the flares will generally always remain.
                              I like that idea as I am really uncomfortable with the idea of chasing that flare aggressively - I trimmed a very crooked legged horse last year who had been "de-flared" by one of our local Pete devotees and the horse was then walking on the side of his pastern yes, the entire hoof capsule rolled over.
                              Sounds to me like it was done incorrectly.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by BornToRide View Post
                                Sounds to me like it was done incorrectly.
                                Tautology of the century!!!!

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by Androcles View Post
                                  I know it's not your method of trimming, but based on what you saw with that horse could you tell what guideline was used to trim the foot so severely? Like, what did the trimmer use to decide where and when to trim and when to stop?
                                  The trimmer thought, I guess, that simply because the horse had a flare there that she should totally remove it. She also took his toes back to the edge of the sole so if you can picture this, he had underrun, uneven heels, no outer wall now and a really short toe. Horse is wide at the knees, base narrow, severely pidgeon toed. So he just rolled over it.

                                  Her guideline? No flare. Well, he had no flare after that but he certainly had some other emergent issues
                                  "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                  ---
                                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                                    The trimmer thought, I guess, that simply because the horse had a flare there that she should totally remove it. She also took his toes back to the edge of the sole so if you can picture this, he had underrun, uneven heels, no outer wall now and a really short toe. Horse is wide at the knees, base narrow, severely pidgeon toed. So he just rolled over it.

                                    Her guideline? No flare. Well, he had no flare after that but he certainly had some other emergent issues
                                    Yeah, no. sounds like she had no understanding about correct hoof balance.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by Androcles View Post
                                      I'm not understanding how a flare can be under the boney column.

                                      It sounds like you are 'using' the flare to 'hold up' one side of the foot?

                                      I'm having a little trouble following you.
                                      The horse toes in/base narrow and is quite wide at the knees and tied in at the elbow. Those are the most obvious faults. If you drop a plumb line from her shoulder her leg goes in/out/in/in. So the foot pushes a flare to the outside, I am assuming to get under her knee/upper body more.

                                      Not sure I'm the one using the flare I think *she* is..
                                      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                      ---
                                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                                        The horse toes in/base narrow and is quite wide at the knees and tied in at the elbow. Those are the most obvious faults. If you drop a plumb line from her shoulder her leg goes in/out/in/in. So the foot pushes a flare to the outside, I am assuming to get under her knee/upper body more.

                                        Not sure I'm the one using the flare I think *she* is..
                                        I would also recommend some body work in this case - stretching the pectorals by abducting the front legs and making sure the latissimus dorsi muscle isn't a contributing factor (it rotates the humerus inward which affects elbow position)

                                        Comment

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