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Coffin bone fractures in foals & high/low syndrome

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  • Coffin bone fractures in foals & high/low syndrome

    Looking for feedback here - has anyone noticed a correlation between coffin bone fractures in foals and subsequent development of high/low syndrome in the affected pair of feet?

  • #2
    I had a foal with a coffin bone fracture, not detected until she stepped on a nail and had x-rays. The fracture was fairly big, she was never lame on it, nor did she develop high/low syndrome. She was stalled for about eight weeks with the nail puncture, which may have helped out the fracture.
    Mystic Owl Sporthorses
    www.mysticowlsporthorses.com

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    • #3
      Whenever a horse bears weight abnormally for an appreciable length of time there will be measurable changes to the conformation of the foot. If the horse is non-weight bearing or refusing to fully load a limb, the weighted hoof frequently "flattens" as the unweighted tends toward clubbiness. The amount of time the abnormal stance and movement are present and the extent to which loading is uneven will have an effect on the resulting hoof conformation.
      I guess the short answer to your question is yes. foals (any horse, really) with painful coffin bone fractures are more prone to having high/low syndrome than their peers that haven't suffered the same fate. But, the same can be said of foals with any painful condition that affects weight bearing.
      "Absent a correct diagnosis, medicine is poison, surgery is trauma and alternative therapy is witchcraft" A. Kent Allen
      http://www.etsy.com/shop/tailsofglory

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      • #4
        Hi/lo is more attributable to limb length differences. I had a TB mare with awful hi/lo feet. My Ferrier and I worked with the mare, and ended up padding up the club foot to even up the legs. Problem didn't go away completely but it had an unbelievable improvement in both feet. Most importantly she stopped crushing her inside heal of the flat foot.

        Tim
        Sparling Rock Holsteiners
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        • #5
          Disparities in functional limb length may arise from shortening of flexor musculo-tendonous units due to diminished weight bearing.
          "Absent a correct diagnosis, medicine is poison, surgery is trauma and alternative therapy is witchcraft" A. Kent Allen
          http://www.etsy.com/shop/tailsofglory

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          • #6
            Originally posted by DownYonder View Post
            Looking for feedback here - has anyone noticed a correlation between coffin bone fractures in foals and subsequent development of high/low syndrome in the affected pair of feet?
            No.

            I've had 2 foals with coffin bone fractures and we created a custom metal plate to put on their feet. We traced their foot and made a plate out of diamond plate aluminum and then welded multiple clips to the toe and sides. The clips were then closed around their hoof and glued down. The plate protected the bottom of their hoof and the clips acted like a cast to hold everything tightly together. The foals were also put on stall rest. The plates stayed on beautifully and were easy for us to take off. They were changed very regularly to avoid contracting the hoof as the foal grew.

            The foals were pretty sound and even in their weight bearing with the plate on their hoof.

            Both foals became perfectly sound with no discernible difference between the two feet as they grew.

            I am riding one of the horses now and I could not tell you which foot she fractured.
            Eliza
            www.foxwoodhanoverians.com

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            • #7
              I guess the short answer to your question is yes. foals (any horse, really) with painful coffin bone fractures are more prone to having high/low syndrome than their peers that haven't suffered the same fate. But, the same can be said of foals with any painful condition that affects weight bearing.
              Agreed. I called my vet with concern over a limping foal and he said that regardless of the cause of the limping, one of the biggest concerns is that the foal will become club-footed because the lower amount of weight-bearing on that limb can cause the tendon to contract. It's not a true club foot of course, because they aren't born with it, so I believe he was referring to the hi-low situation you are as well.
              FYI, the foal limped on one foot and then the other so we did x-rays and found both front coffins were fractured (IIRC, it's called bilateral Type 7 distal phalanx fracture). It is apparently somewhat common and does not have any lingering effects (as long as you work with your vet and/or farrier to prevent rotation due to contracting tendons).
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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Whenever a horse bears weight abnormally for an appreciable length of time there will be measurable changes to the conformation of the foot.
                What is considered "an appreciable length of time"? Are we talking weeks, or months?

                Disparities in functional limb length may arise from shortening of flexor musculo-tendonous units due to diminished weight bearing
                Yes, this is what I am thinking of. For instance, I found this reference from a 1993 study at UC Davis:

                - The foal's hoof and coffin bone are soft and do not mature until 2-3 years of age.
                - The fractures occur at or near the junction between the coffin bone and the cartilage that will ossify with maturity into the wing of the coffin bone. In other words, the fractures occur in an area of developing bones.
                - The deep flexor tendon attaches onto the underside of the coffin bone at about this level.

                So diminished weight bearing would "shorten" the deep flexor tendon over time, and result in a more upright foot - correct?

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                • #9
                  My comments in green

                  Originally posted by DownYonder View Post
                  What is considered "an appreciable length of time"? Are we talking weeks, or months?

                  As scary as it sounds, especially in young animals, days can make a difference.


                  - The deep flexor tendon attaches onto the underside of the coffin bone at about this level.

                  A shortened DDFT musculo-tendonous unit pulls "upward" on the back of PIII, leading to the rotation we're all familiar with. As the back of the bone rises, the toe dips downward, which, depending on severity, can lead to all sorts of undesirables outcomes including dishing and splitting of the hoof wall, separation of the white line, bulging at the coronet and chronic abscessing.


                  So diminished weight bearing would "shorten" the deep flexor tendon over time, and result in a more upright foot - correct?

                  Absolutely, but bear in mind that it's the entire musculo-tendonous unit that shortens. An understandable analogy to the process that any woman can understand is the "stiletto syndrome". After a day of wearing heels, when you finally get home and kick them off your achilles feels tight as heck when you lower your heels to the floor level. Tendons have such amazing tensile strength that must be preserved. On the cellular level they reorganize quickly when used (or not used) in an abnormal manner. To preserve the incredible fiber strength and organization they must be in a state of tension at most times. When not in a state of tension, fibers will bunch, creating a new state of tension, resulting in shortening of the macrostructure.
                  x
                  "Absent a correct diagnosis, medicine is poison, surgery is trauma and alternative therapy is witchcraft" A. Kent Allen
                  http://www.etsy.com/shop/tailsofglory

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                  • #10
                    I had an 8 year old mare who was discovered to have an old coffin bone fracture on a PPE exam (@ 8 years old). I had bought the mare at 6 months old and she was never lame in all the years I owned her outside of a hind foot abscess as a yearling.

                    As far as I know, she also wasn't lame as a foal by her dam's side.

                    She sold as a riding horse and is out competing and doing very well. She had 2 very even sized (and big) feet, with no difference in her heels/angles between the 2 front feet. She also never had a difference in her feet when I purchased her at 2 months old (she stayed at the breeders until weaning at 6 mo old).
                    Kris
                    www.edgewoodmeadowfarm.com
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DownYonder View Post
                      What is considered "an appreciable length of time"? Are we talking weeks, or months?



                      Yes, this is what I am thinking of. For instance, I found this reference from a 1993 study at UC Davis:

                      - The foal's hoof and coffin bone are soft and do not mature until 2-3 years of age.
                      - The fractures occur at or near the junction between the coffin bone and the cartilage that will ossify with maturity into the wing of the coffin bone. In other words, the fractures occur in an area of developing bones.
                      - The deep flexor tendon attaches onto the underside of the coffin bone at about this level.

                      So diminished weight bearing would "shorten" the deep flexor tendon over time, and result in a more upright foot - correct?
                      Originally posted by Edgewood View Post
                      I had an 8 year old mare who was discovered to have an old coffin bone fracture on a PPE exam (@ 8 years old). I had bought the mare at 6 months old and she was never lame in all the years I owned her outside of a hind foot abscess as a yearling.

                      As far as I know, she also wasn't lame as a foal by her dam's side.

                      She sold as a riding horse and is out competing and doing very well. She had 2 very even sized (and big) feet, with no difference in her heels/angles between the 2 front feet. She also never had a difference in her feet when I purchased her at 2 months old (she stayed at the breeders until weaning at 6 mo old).
                      If the injury wasn't painful and didn't cause lameness conformational changes would not be expected.

                      Edited to add that I have no idea how I multi-quoted the above. Ooops!
                      "Absent a correct diagnosis, medicine is poison, surgery is trauma and alternative therapy is witchcraft" A. Kent Allen
                      http://www.etsy.com/shop/tailsofglory

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