Passing The Club Foot Exam

Not all club feet are the same, so understanding grading systems can help you better determine how best to help a particular foal with this all-too-common problem

I was curious to see if club feet in horses was a topic of interest to the horse-owning public. I Googled it and came up with over 42,000 hits.

Obviously club feet are a huge concern to horse people. As I read about club feet on the internet, I discovered a lot of anecdotal information along the lines of being “from my third cousin who lives next door to a friend who had some kind of knowledge of a horse with a club foot who was crippled lame or never had any problems.”

There are also “experts” who contradict each other, but all claim to have plenty of personal experience that has helped them develop (almost) foolproof methods that work 100% of the time.

When discussing club feet, we must consider the age of the horse and the severity of the condition. It is impossible to make blanket statements about what works or doesn’t work. For this article, I want to look at club feet from newborns through the yearling year.


Let’s start with a definition. The American Association of Equine Practitioners defines a club foot as “an upright conformation of the foot associated with a flexural deformity of the distalinterphangeal joint. The dorsal hoof wall angle is steep accompanied by a broken-forward foot-pastern axis. The distance between the heels is normal.”

To understand club feet, it is necessary to understand both anatomy and conformation (Figure 1 Above). The bones of the front limb are the humerus, radius…

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Red renchin

Red Renchin

Red Renchin was a long-time farrier who called Mequon, Wis., and Wellington, Fla. home. A native of Minnesota and a member of the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame, he served as Technical Editor of American Farriers Journal. Renchin passed away in 2015.

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