Decisions for Treating ALD

I’m writing to you regarding the article “A Non-Invasive Option for Correcting Foals’ Limbs,” which featured in the January/February 2019 issue of American Farriers Journal. The conservative, nonsurgical management of angular limb deformities (ALDs) by hoof trimming and/or glue-on extensions is well described in references such as “Adams’ and Stashak’s Lameness in Horses” (chapter 11). In my experience, the results of conservative management are assessed for several months before surgery is considered for unresponsive cases.

The veterinarians and veterinary surgeons we have consulted for ALD did not rush to surgery or adopt the “wait and see” mode described by the author. Radiographs of the affected limbs are helpful for identifying the precise location and possible cause of the deformity, which will inform the best course of therapy. Stall rest is strongly recommended to prevent excessive loading that can damage malformed joints and/or interfere with natural bone remodeling that will straighten the limb. Therefore, I think the author is incorrect in stating, “In fact, normal — not excessive — turnout time is required to feed the new loading data to the foal’s ossification processes to imprint.”

The required bone remodeling can and does occur with limited activity during stall rest while minimizing the risk of damage to the limb. For large or heavily muscled foals such as Warmbloods, a change in the mare’s diet may help by slowing the foal’s growth and counteracting bone growth plate abnormalities. As the author notes, many of these cases (not all) are self-correcting with proper footcare. A productive collaboration between a veterinarian and a farrier can be very effective for the evaluation and treatment of angular limb deformities. As a horse breeder with a background in veterinary medicine, I am most impressed with equine vets who seek the advice of and learn from farriers. In partnership, both professions have much to offer for the betterment of horses.

— Tom Ellenberger, Villa Ridge, Mo.

A Poorly Conducted Study

There’s been a lot of discussion around “Trimming Significantly Changes Hoof Morphology” (, and I’d like to add my thoughts to the conversation. I personally think the study cited in this article was a waste of time. I’ve never heard of either of these supposedly “barefoot trim schools,” and I’ve been trimming since 2001 and researching all that is possible to find. I don’t agree with most of the pictures shown either, but again, I didn’t see any previous pictures, and there weren’t nearly enough pictures presented to make any informed decision. Yes, it is possible to thin the sole with a trim without trimming the sole, and that is where there is a lack of education and knowledge.

I didn’t see any pictures from farrier-trimmed horses (or did they not participate?) But, I don’t find many trimmers or farriers who know how to properly trim. I’ve found two farriers and one trimmer since 2001 that I can approve of. Maybe the participants in the study were bad representatives. I personally think time would have been better spent comparing founder cases and success, and rates of founder between farriers and barefoot trimmers (with their on-schedule clients). I’ll compare notes any day with any farrier or veterinarian, except one farrier I’ve met who has gained my respect, on founder cases. Far too many horses are needlessly euthanized and bank accounts destroyed in the process due to failed treatments that are documented as “scientific discoveries” that have failed over and over.

I’ve attended the International Hoof-Care Summit before and was saddened by the lack of success cases presented there, and also at many other seminars across the U.S. I attended one seminar where awards were presented and not one recipient presented a success case for founder. As far as proper trim, the trim should not differ between a shod horse and a barefoot horse, other than a shoe being applied.

I’m curious to know how many barefoot trimmers subscribe to American Farriers Journal vs. the number of farriers, and how many trimmers attend the Summit. Maybe there’s some bias?

— Don Vick, Nashville, N.C.

Timing Is Everything

After reading “Boost Your Footcare Prices For 2019 Right Now” (, I wanted to share my own method for raising prices.

I have always raised my prices on April 1. I live in Wisconsin and find that many horse owners do not do their trims during the winter on an 8 to 10-week basis, and many stretch it to 14 to 16 weeks. Because of this, winters are always slow. I would rather lose a client in April when business is picking up than in January when the phone hardly ever rings.

— Gary Pfeiffer, Delafield, Wis.

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March 2019 Issue Contents