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 Moderated by: DrDeb  

Joined: Sun Aug 18th, 2013
Posts: 18
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Dear Dr. Deb,

A two year old colt at our barn has a flexure deformity on the left fetlock. The left hoof has developed into a club foot. The right hoof is actually very steep as well, but not as much as the left one. The vet has been consulted and the farrier. It is believed the cause of the deformity is rapid growth of his bones, while the muscles and tendons are not keeping up at the same pace. The horse looks like a super model, with extremely long legs compared to the rest of his body.
His tendons left and right are a bit sensitive, but not very much. His left shoulder muscles though are very sensitive, tight and flinch extremely with just light pressure.
He can walk, but stumbles with his left front foot every few steps. The fetlock flexes too much then and his left front seems to collapse. He catches himself and then walks a few good steps again, and then takes a stumble again.
The vet has put the colt on a 'starvation' diet in hopes that it will slow down his growth. He has been put in a stall (was in a pasture before) with handwalking 3x a day. The farrier has put a pad on his left front and another pad underneath that backwards to extend the toe.
I understand this might all be a bit difficult to imagine without pictures. I'll be able to take pictures on tuesday and will post them.
Dr. Deb, do you have any insights on the best diet, hoof care, exercise and overall treatment of this problem?

Thanks so much for any insights,

Super Moderator

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Posts: 3307
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Pictures will certainly help, Martine, and not just to be helpful to those of us who participate here, but others who don't know what a 'flexure deformity' is to whom I may show the pictures, in other places and countries.

All that you report is being done is very standard. Unfortunate choices in breeding, i.e. meaning the selection of sire and dam, are the root cause of this from what it sounds you're saying. There is currently a fashion in QH's to breed very long-legged and very straight-legged horses, out of a crazy and false belief that this will make them win better in Western Pleasure. We find the parallel but opposite belief in Tennessee Walkers that breeding very crooked hind limbs will make the horse be able to win better at gait -- equally nuts, and both beliefs very destructive.

Pop those photos in when you can, everyone will like to see them, and they may enable me to make further comments as to possible treatments. The colt's shoulder muscles are sore, by the way, because standing on the tips of his coffin bones, as he now is, totally screws up the balance of tensions in the forelimb reciprocating apparatus. So it is very urgent and necessary that the colt receive prompt and effective treatment. Indeed if he really is already two years old, it's almost too late. -- Dr. Deb

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