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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Hoof pastern axis

These photos are terrible - sorry - but for today the detail is not so important - we are talking bigger picture - in every sense of the word.

Just an aside - using my cameraphone which has been in two loos and a bucket of water and it still works! But being just a cameraphone it struggles with the confines of Grace's stable.

Having a discussion with a foot specialist vet a few weeks back and naturally we got to technology, in particular x-rays, MRI scans and of course their impact on trimming.  One of the points the vet made which I think worth passing on is how misleading the technology can be.  For illustrative purposes we talked about hoof pastern axis.

Now I like my clients horses to end up with a naturally full square stance.  Many start off with their legs all over the place, usually trying to cope with undiagnosed pain.  Particularly common is having one or both fore limbs tucked slightly behind the vertical.  Rectifying this usually means finding the source of pain and dealing with it; however that may be - but it is often deep central sulcus thrush.  Othertimes it might be a corn, or just sky high heels that are forcing the foot and leg out of balance.

The vet's point was that if the limb being x-rayed wasn't properly set up, and in their opinion the very act of putting the foot on blocks destroys the natural stance, then the x-ray can be misleading. Didn't go on to explain how to fix this though.  I'll try and get that next time.

The trouble is; if your horse has pain in the back of the foot they may stand with the limb out of true.  With this stance you may be told your horse has a problem with their pastern axis.  Which is true.  But the common treatment of wedges and/or 'remedial' shoes don't actually address the problem.  They can make it worse.

Below are the terrible pictures I promised, showing the same foot seconds apart.  The horse doesn't have thrush and wasn't manipulated in any way for the pictures.  Grace was eating and no one with any sense interrupts her when she is chowing down.  The image with the broken axis is when she is leaning forward and the better one is when she is standing more upright, chewing.  This is her left fore - can't remember the last time I trimmed it (well rolled really).  It is about time I gave it a slight tidy, if only for aesthetics, but it is working for her just fine for the minute - although I think trouble is brewing - we will see in due course.

Left leaning forward, right stood upright


kate said...

Such an improvement! What's changed in the management?

Lucy Priory (ably helped by Sophie) said...

Hi Kate

Nothing has changed. The horse is eating. In the first photo she is leaning forwards to get her hay from the floor. In the second photo (about 5 seconds apart) she has lifted her head to chew.

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